07 September, 2007

The Nouveau Riche

(A repost from 12/06)

I bet you were told that to make it in life financially, you should go to college, find a good job with a reputable company and work hard. Or, you may have been told to get a good education and start a business of your own. Well, you were told wrong. There is an easier way to make a six figure income and you can include your family too!

And no, it is NOT Amway. Get into the ministry! Yes, you heard me right. The ministry. Yes, I know, I have heard all the stories about poor ministers and they are still out there. I know a few, too. But, we have a new crop of ministers and administrators in churches and para church organizations that are doing quite well. They are even wealthy by American standards. Many are in the top 10% of income earners!

Some of you may be thinking, well, there is nothing wrong with paying the workman his wages. And you would be right about that. But, we do need to ask ourselves a few questions: 1) What is fair and just as a wage for ministers and administrators of God's Word and, 2) Should the these expositors of God's Word make 4-5 times more than what their average congregant or donor makes? (In some cases it is 10x more)

Let's take a look at some figures so we can get our facts straight. First of all, what does the average (median) family in the United States make? There are, of course, considerations for location. In Alaska, you might pay $5.00 for a tomato in the dead of winter so we have to make adjustments for location. Here are some Census Bureau statistics on incomes in the United States:

Real median household income in the United States between 2004 and 2005 is: $46,326.
Source: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/007419.html

That means that as far as household incomes in the United States: 50% are above $46,326 and 50% are below $46,326. This figure includes New Yorkers, Californians, Alaskans and those from Piney Bluff, Arkansas.

Chances are you recognize that figure. Those reading this (all 10 of you) will make, for the most part, anywhere between $30-80,000 as personal or family income. We know this because of the breakdown from states when considering a four person family that probably has two income earners. Source:http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/4person.html

So now that we know average incomes of families in the United States, let's take a look at a few para church salaries of some well known ministers and their administrators: (There is a link below to enlarge the chart)

The compensation includes the following: Using information reported on an organization's most recent Form 990, we include as compensation an individual's salary, cash bonuses, and expense accounts and other allowances. We do not include contributions to benefit plans or compensation deferred to a future date.
Source of graph: http://drbrooker.net/?p=521 Running Well Blog. (With permission)

The chart incomes does not include: Book royalties, CD sales, materials or speaking fees. (In case you did not know, the 990's are what non profits file to the IRS and do not include church income)


Now, there are some disturbing trends here. One is the large salaries that are way out of line with what the average American family lives on. But, the second most disturbing aspect are the family member salaries. For Ligoneir Ministries, the President Tim Dick, is R.C. Sproul's son-in-law. So that makes three family members in top management making over $500,000.00 combined. As I understand it, his wife is the only paid board member. This was reported on the 990. (Update: Tim Dick recently resigned)


The most surprising was Chuck Swindoll who makes a paltry $55,000 but then we see his wife is making up for that low salary with her six figure income. And, his daughter is doing pretty well, too.


Billy Graham takes the cake at $405,000. One only hopes that a big portion of this goes right back into BGEA. I was a bit shocked to see his income only a bit less than Paul Crouch. We expect that kind of income from the Word-Faith folks....but Billy Graham?


I can hear the rebukes and arguments as I write this. So why am I doing this? No, I am not a socialist. I am a capitalist in regards to business but not in ministry. I am writing this because there is a disconnect between these ministers and their sheep. How can they relate to the challenges of a single mom who makes $20,000 year with no health insurance when you live on 10x that amount in a luxury gated community?


I am sure many pastors started out poor but after 10 years, a large income starts to become normal and we all know how it works; your lifestyle starts reflecting your income.


There is a danger in living so much better than your sheep. With these kinds of salaries you tend to live in areas with other higher income people. You eat where they eat, shop where they shop, your kids go to school with the higher income kids, etc. It becomes a "Group Think" mentality. Money does that. It is hard to be real humble when you are raking in 250 thou a year.


But what is the real harm here? The harm is that their donors and tithers (Is that a word?) are, for the most part, the $20-60,000 a year people. The kind of people whose lifestyles, challenges and limitations they cannot relate to. The very same people they expect to pay up in tithes and donations so they can live well.


I am not advocating the return to poverty level pastors! But, I am advocating a bit of normalcy and a dab of humility.


Is there a love of money here? I have to wonder because the salaries are so far out of line to the average American. Except for Alistair Begg, who interestingly enough, comes from Scotland. I wonder if there is something to that? Not being an American, I mean.


Salaries are one area where I have to give some (not all) Baptists credit. Some Baptist churches make their detailed budgets public knowledge. In these transparant churches, most everyone who cares, knows what the pastor to the secretary makes. You know he is making $50,000 a year when he gets up to preach. This is why the situation with family members on the chart is a disconcerting. You may not realize that a minister's wife's role in his radio/tape ministry is bringing the family an extra 150,000 a year unless you are searching the 990's. And please do not tell me the board members know and that is enough. The boards of most non profits rarely meet and when they do, they bring their rubber stamps. And most of them are in the six figure range which is why they are on the board! Sadly, it is the same with many elder boards.


Another result of these large incomes is that we are turning ministers into celebrities with books, tapes, speaking engagements, etc. Celebrities start thinking about image. Who is going to follow a guy who drives a rattletrap? Who wants to be under the teaching of someone who lives in a 3 BR ranch with one bath? And, their peers think "well, I better be careful speaking out on a certain issue or I may offend him and he won't blurb my book". That kind of thinking really happens. I have personally witnessed it.


But hey, just because they are ministers of God's Holy Word does not mean they can't live well. Right? The question is: How well?


Why did God decide to bring Jesus into the world as a lowly blue collar peasant? Our Master had no where to lay His head. He owned nothing in a worldly sense. Many 'shepherds' have forgotten this as they negotiate six figure salaries and drive home to their gated communities.



Matthew 13:22


As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.


Matthew 6: 24


No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.


Folks, we are seeing quite a bit of unfruitfulness these days.


I think it is great to make a lot of money...for business people. They can give tons for the Lord's work. What concern me are ministers and administrators, which many times are family, living high on the hog with money from those who can't and who happen to be their sheep.


As Mammy in Gone With The Wind said, "It ain't fittin, It just ain't fittin".


23 comments:

Robbiekrop@hotmail.com said...

Another great article. Exspecially informative for a young man called to the ministry. I think you are right on, Paul didn't want that kind of conflict between those whom he ministered to, so he took up tent building. I recently went to a Will Graham crusade Billy Grahams grandson...I can tell you this, preaching is not a gene that can just be passed down. But a name sure does, there were over 3,000 people at his very first crusade. I bet he made a pretty penny from that. He preached an evangelistic message and never used the word repent once! I was almost sick.

Love you Aunt Lindon, Oh and by the way, I am pretty sure that very soon I am going to be an uncle so I wouldn't worry that I have revealed your secret but if people must know I guess I can tell them how young you really are.

Lindon said...

Ok, get the smelling salts. Are you saying Kel is preggers? Praise the Lord!!!

Thanks for an insightful comment. When one preaches and never mentions repentence, I have to conclude they are really a motivational speaker. Why? because they are not presenting the full gospel so it is not really preaching at all.

You may not be loved by all for preaching the FULL gospel but you will be pleasing God! Better to do that and get your mansion in heaven instead compromising the truth for an mansion on earth.

Love you!

Brandon Giromini said...

Lindon,

Definitely a great article. You articulated some of the very thoughts I had in regard to family members on the payroll. I would imagine the purpose of a non-profit is not to enrich a few members. I plan on investigating a large amount of the top ministries and share the salaries with the public. I think it should be required for ministries to place the top salaries on the website for full disclosure. Wanna guess how many would lose donations?

Lindon said...

Brandon, thanks and thank you for the work you have done in this area. One thing I did not mention in my post and is very important is this: When these people of God are so comfortable in their living standards, they never have an occassion to have to depend on God soley. Perhaps they did in their early days but we all know how it is when you get comfortable. You forget.

There is a balance and I am not suggesting being poor. But I do think donors have a right to know how much they are taking home and that includes all family members.

The annual reports, etc they put out just give lump sums for salaries. One has to dig deep into their 990's to see these salaries broken out.

I would faint if they put their salaries on their websites! I won't hold my breath. They probably think it is none of our business but it is because they expect us to pay for it.

Brandon Giromini said...

If these were for-profit businesses, we would have less room to question their salaries, but they are donor-supported ministries. I agree, that I don't want them to be poor, but living in the top 10% of income tax earners is a little extreme. Of course the alternatives is to get a job like the rest of us, but isn't it much easier to just call up donors when you need more money?

One problem I have is when is someone living too rich of a lifestyle? Just because a pastor is supposedly a good money manager, does that mean he should buy a $700,000 house? When is enough, enough?

I am thinking about setting up a Google Spreadsheets shared account where we can add information about salaries and then easily share it on our sites. All that is required is a free Gmail account.

Frank Vance said...

The figures used by D.R. Brooker came directly from Charity Navigator.

Charity Navigator can be a very useful tool. I've regularly referred to it myself. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. One of the limitations with Charity Navigator is that they include the form 990 column E “Expense Acct. and Other Allowances” as part of “Compensation,” when in fact “Compensation” is only form 990 column C. Since from our perspective what often gets placed under column E is just another form of compensation (e.g. ministerial housing allowance) Charity Navigator’s approach of combining columns C and E is often an accurate reflection of a minister’s overall compensation. However, there are exceptions. It still is necessary in some cases to review an organization’s 990, rather than just rely on Charity Navigator’s compensation figures.

For example, one might easily draw the conclusion that Billy Graham is taking a $400k salary, but that’s not the case. As BGEA's 990 states, “The expense account and other allowances for Billy Graham includes BGEA paid additional health care support costs of $190,725 for Dr. Graham that are required for him to continue to serve and perform his duties and responsibilities for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.”

Roughly half of what Charity Navigator shows for Billy’s “compensation” isn’t what any reasonable person would consider a salary at all.

By comparison, $56,077 of RC Sproul’s form 990 column E “Expense Acct. and Other Allowances” clearly is compensation, in the form of a ministerial housing allowance. That’s donor money that goes directly to pay off RC’s mortgage on his gated-community manor, tax-free to him.

In further comparing the two all of Billy’s book royalties ($millions every year) go directly to his ministry. Sproul personally keeps all of his book royalties, not to mention speaking honorariums and a $60k preaching salary from Saint Andrews Chapel. Sproul is easily taking home twice what Billy Graham takes home, even though Ligonier's revenue isn't but one-tenth that of BGEA.


Frank Vance
hosted at Ministry Watchman

Hawkeye said...

Sproul is now making around $100,000 for preaching at Saint Andrews Chapel.

Brandon Giromini said...

I thought I would share this little tidbit. I was on the home from work last night and I caught the tail end of the Insight of Living broadcast with Chuck Swindoll. He was talking about Handel's Messiah and how Handel finished the symphony in 24 days. He then went into how Insight for Living too needed to "finish" their symphony this year by listeners making a donation. I could only help but dwell on the following:

Chuck Swindoll $55K
Cynthia Swindoll $148K
C. Swindoll-Gaither $82K

It must be nice to earn more and more income simply by asking for more donations.

Lindon said...

Brandon, I know, sad isn't it? I can hardly listen to Christian radio anymore because of that and some of the strange teachings. Best to download old Leonard Ravenhill sermons or the newer Paul Washer sermons.

I can take it better from someone like Washer knowing he lived in the mtns of Peru for years with little amenities. But you think of these other guys bringing home 200 grand asking for donations, it kind of sours the stomach.

But, Let us finish our symphony? If I recall my history, Handel was mocked and scorned and was pretty much broke during this time so I do not think the analogy works here. How about a pay cut, Chuck?

Anonymous said...

Lindon, anyway you can use your expertise to find out what Pastor Steve Gaines makes at Bellevue Baptist, using the 990? Or this form only used for national charities? Just curious? Thanks.

Lindon said...

anon, I would recommend you read this site: http://www.freegoodnews.com/2006/12/reformation_200.html

Just copy the url into your browser.

One of the problems is that churches do not have to report salaries like non profit's do.

John Haggee was under attack for his large salary for his para church ministry so he just put it under his church umbrella where no one would know what he and his family were taking in income.

The key here is the church. The church needs to make this information public.

Lindon said...

Sorry!!

www.freegoodnews.com is the blog. Here is the correct url for the post I was referring to:

http://www.freegoodnews.com/2007/01/reformation_200.html

gordan said...

The only thing that keeps me from saying this is a great article, is how sick it's made me.

I live in a poverty-stricken area, where the average income is less than 25K annually, and the pastor at the First Baptist church is well into the six figures. The lowest pastor on staff, the youth guy, made 60K some three years ago. Who knows, now.

The workman is worthy of his wages, but I've heard these guys preach...let me just say that they're being paid like master chefs for putting out some pretty thin soup.

I do believe that the issue is idolatry.

luvvom said...

I guess my question is why is everyone so fixed upon how much these people make. Is money so valuable to you all that you jugde a person’s spiritual life on how much they make? What if this were dirt they had….would any of you care? I think this just shows how much you all care about money. We should judge these people on their spiritual walk with Christ. Are they in great sin and not preaching the truth? God blesses His children in different ways. He blessed Abraham, David, Job etc with material blessings along with being His children. He blessed His apostles with physically being with Christ. Now which of these men are you going to scorn for having so much? It is God who gives and takes aways and it is the individual who is accountable to God with the things that He has given them. Rick Warren might give 90% of his income away but look at his spiritual life…he is indeed very, very poor! It is the spiritual gifts that you all must focus on not money. Do you see the spiritual gifts in these men or not. Money is nothing and I care not how much a person makes. I happen to know that some of these men give and give. Money is not evil only the love of money which will effect your spiritual life. I can’t speak for many of these men, but I don’t see this happening in the life of R.C. Sproul or John MacArthur or Tom White who, BTW, was imprisoned in Cuba for spreading the Gospel and suffered for Christ’s sake. Let’s look beyond money which so many people put so much value in and look at what counts. It's sad that Christians are tearing other Christians up over money of all things. You can't say that they have a love for money any more than you can say that Abraham and David etc had a love for money. They had even more than these men have. Are you going to say that God is wrong in giving to the OT saints what He gave them? Is He wrong now? When they start preaching unbiblical things then you can start condeming them but not because they make a lot of money.

Lindon said...

luvvom,

When these organizations make their appeals for funds to continue their 'ministry' please feel free to give to your heart's content. Many obviously do.

Could you possibly cite one NT example?

Or perhaps a read of George Muller would be of interest to you.

"(One of his four rules was:) Never to ask any human being for help, however great the need might be, but to make his wants known to the God who has promised to care for His servants and to hear their prayer."

-Andrew Murray On George Müller

luvvom said...

I prefer to cite Scripture instead of man.

1 Timothy 5:17-19
"17Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." 19Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses."

Lin,
you have no Scriptural support for your man-made "moral" law. You, along with others, have decided what is the appropriate wage that a certain person can make. Since it is a man-made law you have these problems: 1)this law will change depending upon location and time in history, 2)you are placing upon your brothers and sisters a law that God has not established, and therefore, are placing burdens upon them just as the Pharisees did to others, 3)you have made a works religion which goes against Scripture, 4)ultimately you are a hypocrite because you certainly make more than the persecuted church no matter how you slice and dice it, and finally you are unjustly slandering your brothers and sisters which goes against Scripture. Christ says that we will know them by their fruit not by the size of their income. If their fruit goes bad, then you have a case. You have no case in regard to Sproul, JM, or Tom White.

Lin said...

My goodness. George Muller, depending solely on God without ever asking ‘man’ for help, was not meant to offend you. It should inspire us. His journal inspired Paul Washer to do the same.

Are you trying to say that 1 Timothy 5:17-19 is translated into six figure salaries, gated communities and large speaking fees for those proclaiming Christ?

First of all, ‘Elder’, Overseer and/or Bishop is not an office as it was in the OT. The term ‘office’ in 1 Timothy 3 is not in the original Greek text. It was added by King James for very good reason: Power.

Young’s Literal Translation of that verse: Stedfast [is] the word: If any one the oversight doth long for, a right work he desireth.

It is a relational function…something you do…not a ‘position’ or ‘office’.

And if you look it up, it only gives us the meaning of Bishop which is episkopē literally translated as ‘inspection for relief’ and ‘visitation’. It is describing someone mature in the faith. An “Elder” is a senior. If it is an office and you are to submit (which is really ‘Yield’ voluntarily) or ‘obey’ then you are in big trouble if they are false teachers. What then? Are you sinning if you do not ‘obey’?

Would our Lord, who rebuked the Pharisees, institute the exact same offices that lead to absolute power and corruption? Or would He institute functions within the ecclesia which are based on relationships that do not Lord it over? If it is an office, we can forget the Holy Priesthood. And we might as well become Catholics.

Secondly, In that verse, ‘honor’ is the Greek word timē which has several meanings including: a value, that is, money paid, or (concretely and collectively) valuables; by analogy esteem (especially of the highest degree), or the dignity itself: - honor, precious, price, some.

YLT on these verses: 17The well-leading elders of double honour let them be counted worthy, especially those labouring in word and teaching,

18for the Writing saith, `An ox treading out thou shalt not muzzle,' and `Worthy [is] the workman of his reward.'

Since this verse says, ‘The laborer is due his wages’ we must take the entire NT teaching into consideration and not just proof text this verse. What do we know is taught in the NT concerning this? That teachers, elders or pastors are to have very high pay and esteem, honor and dignity? Remember the tents Paul made so as not to be a burden?

NT examples just do not communicate lifestyles of the rich and famous for those who have been called to preach or teach. As a matter of fact, NT teaches throughout that wealth is a snare.

But even then, how did the early ecclesia pay the ‘laborers’? How did the ecclesia handle need? That is an interesting question and one to deeply study. We see almost nothing of what is in scripture being carried out today.

Thirdly, as an aside, the word ‘rule’ in the Greek is Proiÿsthmi which also has several meanings:

1. to set or place before
a. to set over
b. to be over, to superintend, preside over
c. to be a protector or guardian
1. to give aid
d. to care for, give attention to
1. profess honest occupations

Which one best fits the entire teaching of the NT in regard to the ecclesia? A ruler with an office such as a Pharisee Or one who is (mature in the faith) to be a guardian and protector to care for the Body?

Considering the examples of Christ, Paul and all the other apostles, I do not see how you can come to any other conclusion. Paul did not make demands using his apostlistic function. He persuaded and pleaded in love.

We are a holy priesthood. But we forget… and the tradition of marrying church and state (worldly thinking and structures) brings worldly thinking in our ecclesia.

We want our popes and bishops because we are lazy. We want to put them on pedestals and follow them. Which is why we hear more about Calvin from reformers and what he taught than we do of Christ and what He taught.

Some of the most godly teachers/preachers/elders will be those we have never heard of. Living on nothing, expecting little proclaiming Christ. But, our worldly “Christian’ institutions do not respect such men. They are not published or on the radio!

We have ONE teacher and that is Christ. We are to be like the Bereans.

Friend, those you are defending look more like the Pharisees than Paul or Peter. And when they ask me for money, they make it my business. Strange how they do not welcome transparency in these financial matters.

And if a pastor/elder/ teacher files a lawsuit against another professing Christian shows ‘fruit’ to you, then we really have nothing more to discuss. To include Sproul in your example, after all the factual, verifiable dark deeds of Ligonier, only shows you wish to have popes you can idolize.

I think you are angry with me for taking on your idols. I wish you were not angry and had not called me a Pharisee who has her own moral law. A Pharisee has power, office and influence. I have none of those. A Pharisee is: Do as I say, not as I do. But they knew the law. They had knowledge of the scriptures such as many of these men do.

For me, I simply have to take the entire NT teaching into consideration. Our famous and wealthy pastors, elders (what does one call the chairman of a para church organization, biblically?)do not look like the model we have in the NT. We do see a model of wealthy men in scripture supporting the church (Acts and others) but we just do not see that model with the Apostles. They gave it all up to follow Him who is so worthy of it all.

We only have what is in the NT as our model for ecclesia.

Follow the teachings of Christ in the Word and not just of men. The veil was torn in two on the Cross. The Holy Spirit teaches, through the Word, even someone as insignificant as I.

Gal 4:16

luvvom said...

Lin,
You said: “My goodness. George Muller, depending solely on God without ever asking ‘man’ for help, was not meant to offend you. It should inspire us. His journal inspired Paul Washer to do the same.” This didn’t offend me at all. If that is how he wanted to conduct his church, he was completely free to do so. However, just because someone conducts his affairs in a manner he feels led to do does not give him (I don’t think he placed this burden on others) or you the right to make it a Biblical law. To get the Biblical standard of correct behavior and what one can or cannot do, you must relate back to Scripture which is what I did.

“Are you trying to say that 1 Timothy 5:17-19 is translated into six figure salaries, gated communities and large speaking fees for those proclaiming Christ?” No, I’m not. That’s just my point. The Bible doesn’t give us a set limit on how much a person is allowed to make. You feel that 200,000+ income and grand houses are extreme and over the top. Well, the persecuted church could easily feel that your income and housing is over the top. What’s to prevent them in judging you for your comfortable life style? Many, many times they go without food and clean water, appropriate clothing, housing, toiletry, hygiene, and access to God’s Word. In compared to you and them and then you and R.C. Sproul the disparagement is greater between you and the persecuted church.

“First of all, ‘Elder’, Overseer and/or Bishop is not an office as it was in the OT. The term ‘office’ in 1 Timothy 3 is not in the original Greek text. It was added by King James for very good reason: Power.” I didn’t quote from the KJV I quoted from the ESV. Besides that, this verse doesn’t mention the word office. However, there are other verses that do mention office and is in the original Greek text:

diakonia

) service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others
2) of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote religion among men
a) of the office of Moses
b) of the office of the apostles and its administration
c) of the office of prophets, evangelists, elders etc.
3) the ministration of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection esp. those who help meet need by either collecting or distributing of charities
4) the office of the deacon in the church
5) the service of those who prepare and present food



Bishop is not found in the OT from what I have read but in the NT Greek it means:

Episcope

1) investigation, inspection, visitation
a) that act by which God looks into and searches out the ways, deeds character, of men, in order to adjudge them their lot accordingly, whether joyous or sad
b) oversight
1) overseership, office, charge, the office of an elder
2) the overseer or presiding officers of a Christian church

Elder is mentioned in the OT but mainly refers to age. In the NT Greek it means:

presbyteros

1) elder, of age,
a) the elder of two people
b) advanced in life, an elder, a senior
1) forefathers
2) a term of rank or office
a) among the Jews
1) members of the great council or Sanhedrin (because in early times the rulers of the people, judges, etc., were selected from elderly men)
2) of those who in separate cities managed public affairs and administered justice
b) among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably
c) the twenty four members of the heavenly Sanhedrin or court seated on thrones around the throne of God

“And if you look it up, it only gives us the meaning of Bishop which is episkope literally translated as ‘inspection for relief’ and ‘visitation’. It is describing someone mature in the faith.” I’ve given you the full definition of Bishop in the NT Greek meaning which you were lacking.

“An “Elder” is a senior. If it is an office and you are to submit (which is really ‘Yield’ voluntarily) or ‘obey’ then you are in big trouble if they are false teachers. What then? Are you sinning if you do not ‘obey’?” Pastors, bishops, elders etc are offices according to the NT Greek definition I gave you. Here is a verse which shows that the church has leaders who reside over the church under Christ. Hebrews 13: 7, 24 “17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you….Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings.” Notice here that the writer of Heb tells the people to submit to their leaders and he also separates the leaders from the saints in his greeting. Is it because they are better than the saints? No. But they are given honor or another word for that is respect in accordance to their office.

“Would our Lord, who rebuked the Pharisees, institute the exact same offices that lead to absolute power and corruption? Or would He institute functions within the ecclesia which are based on relationships that do not Lord it over? If it is an office, we can forget the Holy Priesthood. And we might as well become Catholics.” Scripture teaches that each person is to study the Scripture and know what is true. So, if you have done your job, you will know when you leader is making you do something that is not in accordance to Scripture and thus you don’t have to obey him. He governs you only unto the will of God. Anything outside of that he has no say over. For example, he cannot tell you what kind of car to buy or when to buy it or even the color of it or even how you should use it. If you have a pastor who is abusing his authority then you must tell the elders who will talk with him. If he doesn’t listen to their correction then it goes to the assembly. If he still doesn’t listen to them then it goes to the general assembly. If they find him at fault and he refuses to repent, then he is disciplined according to the severity of his wrong action. The Catholic Church is different in that they feel that they are infallible and that church members should blindly follow whatever they say and discourages study of God’s Word. They themselves don’t even have correct understanding of the Bible so it is the blind leading the blind. Just because we submit to our leaders doesn’t mean we are going to follow them into sin or that we are like the Catholics. If you truly understood the structure and workings of the church, you would not have this fear and you would be able to submit as Scripture instructs you to do. Pastors are held responsible for their actions as are the elders as are the congregants. We all are under the head of Christ. That is why it is important that not only the pastors not make up man-made laws to impose on their congregants but that the congregants not make up man-made laws to impose on their leaders…which you and others have done. By your comments, you refuse to be under the authority of a leader which goes against Scripture, and yet, you demand that they come under your authority by submitting to your man-made laws which isn’t Scriptural.

“Since this verse says, ‘The laborer is due his wages’ we must take the entire NT teaching into consideration and not just proof text this verse. What do we know is taught in the NT concerning this? That teachers, elders or pastors are to have very high pay and esteem, honor and dignity? Remember the tents Paul made so as not to be a burden?” Yes I do remember that Paul made tents. Did he only make them for the heathen or do you suppose that some Christians bought them? Paul was a tent maker and R.C. Sproul and JM are book writers…all of them made a living from their talent. I also remember 2 Cor. 11:7-11 “7Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? 8I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.” So Paul didn’t receive help from the Corinthians but he did receive help or in his words “robbed” other churches (meaning placed a greater burden on them so as not to place any burden on the Corinthians) for help. Nothing in this Scripture states that he didn’t ask for help and only waited for them to send him something. Now he could have waited and not asked but you don’t know that for sure. 1 Cor 16:1-3 states, “1Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 3And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.” Here Paul instructs a church to give not to himself but to those in Jerusalem. He doesn’t just tell those in Jerusalem to seek God and God will meet their needs without them asking for help from the brethren even though God does meet our needs even if we don‘t ask, but it isn‘t a requirement.

“NT examples just do not communicate lifestyles of the rich and famous for those who have been called to preach or teach. As a matter of fact, NT teaches throughout that wealth is a snare.” So now it is wrong for pastors to have a large amount of money because the apostles didn’t? Paul didn’t get married and actually encouraged others not to unless they couldn’t keep from sinning. Should we insist that people not get married unless they know for sure they would sin…is this the higher ground? Where in Scripture does it say that wealth is a snare? Do you mean that love of money and serving money is the snare? You don’t have to have lots of money to have a love of money and serve it. There are those who do have lots of money and they love and serve Christ. If they lost their money today it would make no difference to them. If wealth was a snare, then He wouldn’t have given many of His servants lots of wealth. This is your own opinion, because you have confused people who do have a lot of money and love their money with the fact that it is because they do have lots of money when really it is a matter of their heart not their money.

“But even then, how did the early ecclesia pay the ‘laborers’? How did the ecclesia handle need? That is an interesting question and one to deeply study. We see almost nothing of what is in scripture being carried out today” Exactly! In Acts they sold all they had and gave it to the church members who had need….are you doing this, Lin? No, you are not. You want to condemn these men for their abundance…why don’t you live according to the example shown in Acts and sell all you have and give to those in need? You demand they follow some fallacy you’ve made up in your mind and yet you don’t follow the example shown in Acts. Could this be because we don’t necessarily have to sell all that we have and give it to the church? Ananias and Sapphira sold their land and lied about the amount the got for it. They were not required to sell it or even give the profits to the church. So here we see that even though the church set up an example of how to give didn’t necessarily mean this was a law that was to be followed either by them or us. Could it be that our pastors don’t have to be as poor as the apostles? The apostles’ poorness wasn’t a rule for others to follow otherwise it would have been a command clearly given in Scripture.

“Considering the examples of Christ, Paul and all the other apostles, I do not see how you can come to any other conclusion. Paul did not make demands using his apostlistic function. He persuaded and pleaded in love.” I have already shown in 1Cor 16 where Paul did instruct churches to give money to others. He didn’t “plead” he just told them to do it. Also, in Titus 2:15 he stated, “15Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

“Which is why we hear more about Calvin from reformers and what he taught than we do of Christ and what He taught.” This is absurd! We are taught in Scripture not to lay aside the teachings of others who teach God’s truths. We in the reformed camp don’t give credit to Calvin for the doctrines of grace! He began to understand them in detail but there were those who followed him who corrected some of the things he said and stated them more in line with the Bible. How do we know that those who followed him were more in line with the Bible? Because we get the truth from the Bible and compare it to what these men said and agree that they interpreted the Bible correctly.

“Some of the most godly teachers/preachers/elders will be those we have never heard of. Living on nothing, expecting little proclaiming Christ. But, our worldly “Christian’ institutions do not respect such men. They are not published or on the radio!” And yet they get their righteousness from the same Person that Sproul and JM and Tom White do and in the same manner! The fact that they are poor and no one has heard of them does not make them more righteous. Their righteousness comes from Christ living a righteous life for the sake of His children. Sounds as those you are putting these men on a pedestal because of they are poor which in your mind equals righteousness. This isn’t Scriptural if it was then our sanctification process would be by our own hand and not God’s and God says that our sanctification process is by His hand alone. If God makes you poor then give Him glory in your poorness. If He makes you rich, then give Him glory in your richness. Paul said that in all things he had learned to be content because his contentness was in Christ not in a lot or little of things.

“Friend, those you are defending look more like the Pharisees than Paul or Peter. And when they ask me for money, they make it my business. Strange how they do not welcome transparency in these financial matters.” The money you give to God’s people is NOT your money it‘s God‘s. If you don’t like the way a group handles their money then don’t give GOD’s money to them…find someone else. However, if you’re giving to someone because you think they exude piety in their poor state, you have just built an idol for yourself. You should give to someone because first they preach the Word of God in an accurate manner and then because they are in need. I don’t give to Sproul or JM because I don’t see that they have a need not because they are rich and therefore they surely are in sin and need to be rebuked. I do give to VOM (Tom White) because there is a great need there. I also give to my church because there is a great need there and my pastor preaches the Word of God. I would still give to my pastor even if his income exceeded mine as long as he passionately preached the Word of God accurately because that is my church that I’m supposed to support. I’m not beyond buying something from JM although I disagree with him on some points such as dispensationalism. I do and will continue to buy from Sproul unless he stops preaching the Word of God.

“I think you are angry with me for taking on your idols.” My only idol is to be Christ and that is my goal by His grace. We all have our idols do we not? However, these men are not my idols. There are things that they teach that I don’t find to be true and I can see that it is not true. I don’t follow them and I certainly don’t follow them blindly. If what they teach is Scriptural then I follow it. You have angered me because you have slandered some of God’s children who are my brothers without any Scriptural support. You not only injure these men you injure Christ since they are apart of His body. If you had Scriptural support, then you would not be slandering them but admonishing them.

“ I wish you were not angry and had not called me a Pharisee who has her own moral law. A Pharisee has power, office and influence. I have none of those. A Pharisee is: Do as I say, not as I do. But they knew the law. They had knowledge of the scriptures such as many of these men do.” You do have influence over weaker brothers and sisters who know not the Scriptures well and thus lead them astray.

luvvom said...

Lin,
You said: “My goodness. George Muller, depending solely on God without ever asking ‘man’ for help, was not meant to offend you. It should inspire us. His journal inspired Paul Washer to do the same.” This didn’t offend me at all. If that is how he wanted to conduct his church, he was completely free to do so. However, just because someone conducts his affairs in a manner he feels led to do does not give him (I don’t think he placed this burden on others) or you the right to make it a Biblical law. To get the Biblical standard of correct behavior and what one can or cannot do, you must relate back to Scripture which is what I did.

“Are you trying to say that 1 Timothy 5:17-19 is translated into six figure salaries, gated communities and large speaking fees for those proclaiming Christ?” No, I’m not. That’s just my point. The Bible doesn’t give us a set limit on how much a person is allowed to make. You feel that 200,000+ income and grand houses are extreme and over the top. Well, the persecuted church could easily feel that your income and housing is over the top. What’s to prevent them in judging you for your comfortable life style? Many, many times they go without food and clean water, appropriate clothing, housing, toiletry, hygiene, and access to God’s Word. In compared to you and them and then you and R.C. Sproul the disparagement is greater between you and the persecuted church.

“First of all, ‘Elder’, Overseer and/or Bishop is not an office as it was in the OT. The term ‘office’ in 1 Timothy 3 is not in the original Greek text. It was added by King James for very good reason: Power.” I didn’t quote from the KJV I quoted from the ESV. Besides that, this verse doesn’t mention the word office. However, there are other verses that do mention office and is in the original Greek text:

diakonia

) service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others
2) of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote religion among men
a) of the office of Moses
b) of the office of the apostles and its administration
c) of the office of prophets, evangelists, elders etc.
3) the ministration of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection esp. those who help meet need by either collecting or distributing of charities
4) the office of the deacon in the church
5) the service of those who prepare and present food



Bishop is not found in the OT from what I have read but in the NT Greek it means:

Episcope

1) investigation, inspection, visitation
a) that act by which God looks into and searches out the ways, deeds character, of men, in order to adjudge them their lot accordingly, whether joyous or sad
b) oversight
1) overseership, office, charge, the office of an elder
2) the overseer or presiding officers of a Christian church

Elder is mentioned in the OT but mainly refers to age. In the NT Greek it means:

presbyteros

1) elder, of age,
a) the elder of two people
b) advanced in life, an elder, a senior
1) forefathers
2) a term of rank or office
a) among the Jews
1) members of the great council or Sanhedrin (because in early times the rulers of the people, judges, etc., were selected from elderly men)
2) of those who in separate cities managed public affairs and administered justice
b) among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably
c) the twenty four members of the heavenly Sanhedrin or court seated on thrones around the throne of God

“And if you look it up, it only gives us the meaning of Bishop which is episkope literally translated as ‘inspection for relief’ and ‘visitation’. It is describing someone mature in the faith.” I’ve given you the full definition of Bishop in the NT Greek meaning which you were lacking.

“An “Elder” is a senior. If it is an office and you are to submit (which is really ‘Yield’ voluntarily) or ‘obey’ then you are in big trouble if they are false teachers. What then? Are you sinning if you do not ‘obey’?” Pastors, bishops, elders etc are offices according to the NT Greek definition I gave you. Here is a verse which shows that the church has leaders who reside over the church under Christ. Hebrews 13: 7, 24 “17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you….Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings.” Notice here that the writer of Heb tells the people to submit to their leaders and he also separates the leaders from the saints in his greeting. Is it because they are better than the saints? No. But they are given honor or another word for that is respect in accordance to their office.

“Would our Lord, who rebuked the Pharisees, institute the exact same offices that lead to absolute power and corruption? Or would He institute functions within the ecclesia which are based on relationships that do not Lord it over? If it is an office, we can forget the Holy Priesthood. And we might as well become Catholics.” Scripture teaches that each person is to study the Scripture and know what is true. So, if you have done your job, you will know when you leader is making you do something that is not in accordance to Scripture and thus you don’t have to obey him. He governs you only unto the will of God. Anything outside of that he has no say over. For example, he cannot tell you what kind of car to buy or when to buy it or even the color of it or even how you should use it. If you have a pastor who is abusing his authority then you must tell the elders who will talk with him. If he doesn’t listen to their correction then it goes to the assembly. If he still doesn’t listen to them then it goes to the general assembly. If they find him at fault and he refuses to repent, then he is disciplined according to the severity of his wrong action. The Catholic Church is different in that they feel that they are infallible and that church members should blindly follow whatever they say and discourages study of God’s Word. They themselves don’t even have correct understanding of the Bible so it is the blind leading the blind. Just because we submit to our leaders doesn’t mean we are going to follow them into sin or that we are like the Catholics. If you truly understood the structure and workings of the church, you would not have this fear and you would be able to submit as Scripture instructs you to do. Pastors are held responsible for their actions as are the elders as are the congregants. We all are under the head of Christ. That is why it is important that not only the pastors not make up man-made laws to impose on their congregants but that the congregants not make up man-made laws to impose on their leaders…which you and others have done. By your comments, you refuse to be under the authority of a leader which goes against Scripture, and yet, you demand that they come under your authority by submitting to your man-made laws which isn’t Scriptural.

“Since this verse says, ‘The laborer is due his wages’ we must take the entire NT teaching into consideration and not just proof text this verse. What do we know is taught in the NT concerning this? That teachers, elders or pastors are to have very high pay and esteem, honor and dignity? Remember the tents Paul made so as not to be a burden?” Yes I do remember that Paul made tents. Did he only make them for the heathen or do you suppose that some Christians bought them? Paul was a tent maker and R.C. Sproul and JM are book writers…all of them made a living from their talent. I also remember 2 Cor. 11:7-11 “7Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? 8I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.” So Paul didn’t receive help from the Corinthians but he did receive help or in his words “robbed” other churches (meaning placed a greater burden on them so as not to place any burden on the Corinthians) for help. Nothing in this Scripture states that he didn’t ask for help and only waited for them to send him something. Now he could have waited and not asked but you don’t know that for sure. 1 Cor 16:1-3 states, “1Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 3And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.” Here Paul instructs a church to give not to himself but to those in Jerusalem. He doesn’t just tell those in Jerusalem to seek God and God will meet their needs without them asking for help from the brethren even though God does meet our needs even if we don‘t ask, but it isn‘t a requirement.

“NT examples just do not communicate lifestyles of the rich and famous for those who have been called to preach or teach. As a matter of fact, NT teaches throughout that wealth is a snare.” So now it is wrong for pastors to have a large amount of money because the apostles didn’t? Paul didn’t get married and actually encouraged others not to unless they couldn’t keep from sinning. Should we insist that people not get married unless they know for sure they would sin…is this the higher ground? Where in Scripture does it say that wealth is a snare? Do you mean that love of money and serving money is the snare? You don’t have to have lots of money to have a love of money and serve it. There are those who do have lots of money and they love and serve Christ. If they lost their money today it would make no difference to them. If wealth was a snare, then He wouldn’t have given many of His servants lots of wealth. This is your own opinion, because you have confused people who do have a lot of money and love their money with the fact that it is because they do have lots of money when really it is a matter of their heart not their money.

“But even then, how did the early ecclesia pay the ‘laborers’? How did the ecclesia handle need? That is an interesting question and one to deeply study. We see almost nothing of what is in scripture being carried out today” Exactly! In Acts they sold all they had and gave it to the church members who had need….are you doing this, Lin? No, you are not. You want to condemn these men for their abundance…why don’t you live according to the example shown in Acts and sell all you have and give to those in need? You demand they follow some fallacy you’ve made up in your mind and yet you don’t follow the example shown in Acts. Could this be because we don’t necessarily have to sell all that we have and give it to the church? Ananias and Sapphira sold their land and lied about the amount the got for it. They were not required to sell it or even give the profits to the church. So here we see that even though the church set up an example of how to give didn’t necessarily mean this was a law that was to be followed either by them or us. Could it be that our pastors don’t have to be as poor as the apostles? The apostles’ poorness wasn’t a rule for others to follow otherwise it would have been a command clearly given in Scripture.

“Considering the examples of Christ, Paul and all the other apostles, I do not see how you can come to any other conclusion. Paul did not make demands using his apostlistic function. He persuaded and pleaded in love.” I have already shown in 1Cor 16 where Paul did instruct churches to give money to others. He didn’t “plead” he just told them to do it. Also, in Titus 2:15 he stated, “15Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

“Which is why we hear more about Calvin from reformers and what he taught than we do of Christ and what He taught.” This is absurd! We are taught in Scripture not to lay aside the teachings of others who teach God’s truths. We in the reformed camp don’t give credit to Calvin for the doctrines of grace! He began to understand them in detail but there were those who followed him who corrected some of the things he said and stated them more in line with the Bible. How do we know that those who followed him were more in line with the Bible? Because we get the truth from the Bible and compare it to what these men said and agree that they interpreted the Bible correctly.

“Some of the most godly teachers/preachers/elders will be those we have never heard of. Living on nothing, expecting little proclaiming Christ. But, our worldly “Christian’ institutions do not respect such men. They are not published or on the radio!” And yet they get their righteousness from the same Person that Sproul and JM and Tom White do and in the same manner! The fact that they are poor and no one has heard of them does not make them more righteous. Their righteousness comes from Christ living a righteous life for the sake of His children. Sounds as those you are putting these men on a pedestal because of they are poor which in your mind equals righteousness. This isn’t Scriptural if it was then our sanctification process would be by our own hand and not God’s and God says that our sanctification process is by His hand alone. If God makes you poor then give Him glory in your poorness. If He makes you rich, then give Him glory in your richness. Paul said that in all things he had learned to be content because his contentness was in Christ not in a lot or little of things.

“Friend, those you are defending look more like the Pharisees than Paul or Peter. And when they ask me for money, they make it my business. Strange how they do not welcome transparency in these financial matters.” The money you give to God’s people is NOT your money it‘s God‘s. If you don’t like the way a group handles their money then don’t give GOD’s money to them…find someone else. However, if you’re giving to someone because you think they exude piety in their poor state, you have just built an idol for yourself. You should give to someone because first they preach the Word of God in an accurate manner and then because they are in need. I don’t give to Sproul or JM because I don’t see that they have a need not because they are rich and therefore they surely are in sin and need to be rebuked. I do give to VOM (Tom White) because there is a great need there. I also give to my church because there is a great need there and my pastor preaches the Word of God. I would still give to my pastor even if his income exceeded mine as long as he passionately preached the Word of God accurately because that is my church that I’m supposed to support. I’m not beyond buying something from JM although I disagree with him on some points such as dispensationalism. I do and will continue to buy from Sproul unless he stops preaching the Word of God.

“I think you are angry with me for taking on your idols.” My only idol is to be Christ and that is my goal by His grace. We all have our idols do we not? However, these men are not my idols. There are things that they teach that I don’t find to be true and I can see that it is not true. I don’t follow them and I certainly don’t follow them blindly. If what they teach is Scriptural then I follow it. You have angered me because you have slandered some of God’s children who are my brothers without any Scriptural support. You not only injure these men you injure Christ since they are apart of His body. If you had Scriptural support, then you would not be slandering them but admonishing them.

“ I wish you were not angry and had not called me a Pharisee who has her own moral law. A Pharisee has power, office and influence. I have none of those. A Pharisee is: Do as I say, not as I do. But they knew the law. They had knowledge of the scriptures such as many of these men do.” You do have influence over weaker brothers and sisters who know not the Scriptures well and thus lead them astray.

luvvom said...

Didn't mean to send that twice. Your moderating of my comments obviously shows that you feel insecure about your position. I care not if you post it or not. My argument is with you not your readers. If you wish to look as though you had the last say that is your right for it is your blog. But I would caution you on how you handle God's Word and how you treat His body...it is to Him that you will answer not me or anyone else. I will leave you to God's discipline and keep you in my prayers that He opens your eyes to His truth and shows you how you are following man's opinions.

Lindon said...

"Your moderating of my comments obviously shows that you feel insecure about your position."

Sarah, I just sent you a private e-mail about this explaining the situation. It had nothing to do with you and I am very sorry you thought that! It has to do with a frequent commenter here called 'watchinghistory' who cannot be trusted to always post civil comments. I thought he had gone away but posted something recently that required deletion and moderation again!

I enjoy the debate and want all sides published. I will respond soon as I have the time to really wade through it. You have exceeded my own word count in my previous comment! I thought only I did such things. :o)


Grace and Peace of our Savior to you.

Lin said...

Luv wrote: “By your comments, you refuse to be under the authority of a leader which goes against Scripture, and yet, you demand that they come under your authority by submitting to your man-made laws which isn’t Scriptural”

How is publishing public numbers requiring them to come under my authority? You lost me there. You almost sound like someone from the state church with magistrates. :o)

Are you saying that those who donate funds to Ligoneir have no right to know not only salaries but how many family members are on the payroll? What about all those who were laid off so family members could be hired? You care nothing for them? Do you really believe that openness and transparency is bad for these preachers/teachers of the Word?

What does any of this have to do with ‘being under authority’. Biblical authority is only to the degree the person rightly interprets scripture and fits the qualifications of an elder as outlined in 1 Timothy. So, interestingly enough, in order to ‘submit’ to authority…one would have to know if that ‘authority’ is a true teacher of the Word. This means that one would have to be a Berean themselves.

So, authority for Christians comes from rightly dividing the Word. The WORD is the authority.

By your definition, a mere man could live like a hellion, teach anything and still require you to be under his authority simply by his title or position. That is not scriptural.

For example: If you have not read RC Sproul, Jr’s autobiography, Ligonier Tales, then you cannot understand why Sproul, Sr, is not qualified to be an elder. Unless, of course, you give him a pass because of his position and title.


Luv wrote: “Yes I do remember that Paul made tents. Did he only make them for the heathen or do you suppose that some Christians bought them? Paul was a tent maker and R.C. Sproul and JM are book writers…all of them made a living from their talent.”

The only way they make a living is with tithes and offerings from donors, speaking engagements and selling their teaching in books, materials and tapes. And they make a very nice living from the selling of their teaching.

Did Paul charge for people to read his letters? Did he write his teaching down on papyrus and sell them after the meeting? Paul did not market or sell anything related to the Word that we can find in the NT. Yet, this is normal procedure today. As a matter of fact, they make a very good living (top 10% of income earners in the US) selling their teaching and preaching of the Word. What I shared on this post for most of them is over and above their preaching salary.

Luv wrote: In Acts they sold all they had and gave it to the church members who had need….are you doing this, Lin? No, you are not.

ALL they had? I am sure they kept some clothes to wear and possibly enough to buy some food. But as to my situation how do you know what I have done or not done? I think you would be very surprised but to even say a word would be violating Matthew 6.

The bottom line is this: In the New Covenant we no longer have anointed kings, earthly priest or ‘Great men of God’. The greatest among you will be your servant. The first will be last and the last will be first. The ‘authority’ you mention comes from the 'Word' by a messenger (elder..someone mature in the faith) that rightly interprets the Word. We are all priests. We are a Holy Priesthood. And we have ONE teacher, Christ Jesus.

I think we are confusing position and title with true Biblical authority these days. It is happening in both the reformed world and seeker world of Christendom. It is sad and I pray we stop doing it.

I happen to love the teaching of John Piper and Paul Washer. But at the end of the day, they are human just like me. I must check everything with scripture and seek the Holy Spirit to teach me.

Grace and Peace.

evision said...

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