Category Archives: Christianity

Thoughts on religion

Money in the Church, or What’s Wrong with a Pastor’s Salary

Here are a few scriptures in the New Testament that point to the idea that some can receive money for their teaching/ministry: Galatians 6:6, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” and 1 Cor 9:13-14, “Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat [of the things] of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of [the offerings of] the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.”

These scriptures clearly say that some leaders can and should be paid, but I would counter that many people who are paid in the church ought not to be, and that the church leaders were never made rich off of the ministry, but rather had their basic needs met and the rest of the offering was distributed to the poor. Paul, concerned with the mixing of taking money from those to whom he was ministering, didn’t collect any offerings from the Corinthian church, but rather subsisted off of the Macedonians while he was ministering in Corinth (2 Cor 11:7-9). Furthermore, we find in Acts 18 that Paul also worked as a tentmaker while he was at Corinth to support himself rather than take money from the local church. So, even an apostle supported himself while he lived in a town and ministered there even though he says he had a right to be paid for his ministry. In 2 Corinthians (esp. chapter 8) we find out the reason why Paul did this: he didn’t want his ministry tainted by asking for money for himself, especially since he was collecting money for the poor in Jerusalem. In fact, the scripture in Galatians also has a counterbalance, of Gal 6:10 where Paul writes that the local church should care for their poor.

All of that is background to say what my view is: we as a church abounding in riches should be willing to support those who dedicate themselves fully to the ministry, especially those who are doing missionary work, so that their being supported from where they are ministering doesn’t pollute the Gospel; however the idea that we allow our local church leaders to get rich off of ministry, especially preaching, is a very sad thing, and we are turning the house of prayer into a den of thieves (Matt 21:13). Nowhere does Paul mention that the local church leaders in Corinth should be paid, but rather says in 1 Cor 14:26,29-31, ” How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if [anything] is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.” People weren’t lining up around the block to become apostles, as Paul writes earlier in 1 Cor 4:9-11, “For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We [are] fools for Christ’s sake, but you [are] wise in Christ! We [are] weak, but you [are] strong! You [are] distinguished, but we [are] dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.” Paul doesn’t paint the picture of a man that was taking 10% of any of the churches to which he was ministering as his wage, but was only interested in having his basic needs met! The idea that we are effectively making every local pastor more than equal in rewards to that of an apostle while ignoring the apostles unwillingness to pollute the Gospel with money hurts the development of the gifts within the rest of the church (who should be teaching along with their leaders) and also takes money that could be used to both support missionaries and the poor and funnels it into the hands of those who could distribute their responsibilities and work but rather are often made rich.

Five Things I Wish People Would Admit about the Bible

Note: I wrote this because, in a previous post, I attacked an article written by Relevant Magazine titled 5 Things I Wish Christians Would Admit about the Bible for listing 5 things almost no Christians actually believes about the Bible. In the spirit of putting my neck where I built a guillotine, I thought I should write my own list of Five things I Wish People Would Admit about the Bible, that I think most people will probably argue with or at least try to ignore.

1) The Bible, as it stands today, is not inerrant. There are contradictions in the Bible (Jesus’ lineage for example). There are also verses that are in some manuscripts and not others (see John 7:53-8:11). I do believe it was God Breathed at its original writing, but we’ve had 2,000+ years to cut, paste and insert into it. All of that being said, it is a testament to the Holy fear people have had in doing so, that so few errors have entered it. As an example, the Church has known for a long, LONG time about the contradiction in Jesus’ lineage, but were unwilling to either remove one, or change the other to make it match.

2) Because the Bible was written in human languages, it has inherited the problems of language. All language is abstract, arbitrary, and ambiguous. No word can replace an object, and therefore we must recognize that any word written in the Bible is only as useful as the intent God meant to speak into those words when they were being written, and the only way to do that is to be filled with the same Holy Spirit that wrote the words originally.

3) The New Testament Law replaces the Old Testament Law. The Old Testament remains to teach us lessons, but is not for implementation or prescription. The Old Testament remains to teach us how frail, sinful and foolish men are, but that is all. The sabbath day no longer need be kept, the tithe is no longer commanded, etc, etc. Further, the Old Testament law was not God’s law, but was a bargain God made with man to teach them how bad they were at even living up to a crappy law. Jesus spoke in Matthew 19:8, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” And again, the sermon on the mount was to show that the Old Testament law was not God’s will for man, but was man’s will for a law they thought they could uphold.

4) The Bible is very clear that God is a righteous God that demands righteousness, but is also interested in being that righteousness for us. It seems to me that most Christians are either interested in seeing the Bible as a book that tells us what and what not to do, or they are interested in saying useless euphemisms like “Jesus preached relationship not religion.” The truth is that God is very much concerned with our actions, but also knows we have no ability to carry out right actions, or rather to be righteous. The Old Testament effectively says this over and over and over again, with the best of people realizing they are the worst, and God not ignoring their sinfulness. The New Testament exists and proves that God wants us to be righteous through His righteousness, not in some ethereal heaven beyond, but right now, today, through Jesus’ shed blood and His resurrection.

5) A person can be a Christian without ever reading the Bible, and/or while believing “heretical” doctrines that either twist the Bible or ignore it. Mark 9 has a man doing miracles in Jesus’ name, and He tells His disciples that “no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.” Almost all of the epistles are the Apostles writing to churches who are clearly believing/practicing heretical ideas, but the authors never seem concerned with the overall salvation of the church so much as them growing in Christ. The Bible is important for its pointing out heresies and misalignments in our lives, but we must be careful of not throwing out the Spirit with the ugly vessel it chooses to work in.

5 Things No One Actually Thinks about the Bible

Please read the Relevant Magazine Article: 5 Things I Wish Christians Would Admit about the Bible first, then read my rebuttal here:

This article seems to be refuting claims almost no one actually makes about the Bible, and in each point, he makes many sub-points that often seem to have nothing to do with the bullet, and are often wrong: 

1) Of course the Bible isn’t “magic”, a term no one uses to describe rather than what he’s really refuting, which is that it is Spiritual. But then, the author immediately goes into fun facts about the Bible not being The Good Book because it’s many small books. Would he then admit that the Bible are the Good Books? He doesn’t say, just simply that it’s not Good. If he would really like to be clear, he should say what books are literal and which are figurative. Surely Jews felt Psalm 22 was figurative poetry right up until Jesus was actually crucified exactly as described. But again, I’m still not sure what he’s refuting except perhaps some people who think a Bible scares off vampires.

2) I would argue the Bible is much clearer than we’d like it to be, and that’s why most people try not to read it literally (see bullet 1). Is fornication ok? Bible’s much clearer than we’d like to it be. Is bad language ok? Bible’s much clearer than we’d like it to be. Should we love our enemies, care for the poor, give away our excess, seek spiritual gifts of healing? All of these things are clear, but we as people want to move away from them for our own comfort. And as Christians, we should understand with complete clarity that the New Testament trumps the Old Testament (the word that is most often used of the NT isn’t actually testament, but covenant, which is the terms of a contract), so for any person who says Christians believe they should stone those not observing the sabbath day, or kill homosexuals, you need to simply ask them if that old covenant carried over to the new one.

3) Using the author’s own words against him, some places in the Bible are just inspired, some places are just history (possibly not inspired at all), but other places are clearly dictated by God directly. Were Isaiah’s visions just inspired, or John’s revelation, or some of David’s Messianic Psalms? An interesting thing happens in 1 Corinthians 7: Paul switches between speaking directly on behalf of God, and using his own inspiration. We must recognize that the Bible has both inspiration, and dictation, but it dilutes God’s word not to recognize this.

4) The very purpose of the Bible is to have an objective, outside source that prevents our own interpretations from straying too far. 2 Peter 1:20-21 reads, ” τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες ὅτι πᾶσα προφητεία γραφῆς ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως οὐ γίνεται οὐ γὰρ θελήματι ἀνθρώπου ἠνέχθη προφητεία ποτέ ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου φερόμενοι ἐλάλησαν ἀπὸ Θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι” which literally means this first knowing that any prophecy of scripture of its own interpretation not is. not indeed by will of man was brough prophecy at any time but by spirit holy being carried spoke from God men, or reordered for the layman, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” You see, there is a source text (and there are variations of the source text, which a good Bible annotates for the reader), and we as readers of the Bible must realize two things: it wasn’t written by a man’s private interpretation, and we ourselves cannot approach it with our own interpretation but must read it as it was written, i.e. by the Holy Spirit.

5) Again, the author seems to be titling at windmills, as what thoughtful Christian believes that the Bible is either equal to God or is greater than God. John himself ends his Gospel proclaiming “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”

As an overarching comment about this article, I feel the author is actually undermining the Bible by first making statements no one really believes to make outsiders realize how stupid Christians must be for believing in a “magic” book that is God. I think the author then gets to pat himself on the back for saying how great a deed he did in condemning those stupid Christians publicly and setting the record straight.