Probably A Bad Idea

Update: I decided to restore this post and just take my medicine. Have at me.

 

 

I am sure I’m going to regret this but I was asked again today by a very well-meaning friend why I don’t attend a church of my choice.

OK

I have some questions that I’d like answered and some statements.

1. My understanding is that the professional priesthood/ministry/pastor/teacher job ended when the veil split in the sanctuary (Matthew 27:50,51) forever ending the separation of God from His people. Is this not true? Did not Paul himself continue his trade while establishing local churches and exhort Timothy to do the same? I have a major problem with multi-millionaire preachers or even those who live better than the most humble of their flock. I believe the closer New Testament example would be to keep your day job and practice your spiritual gift of preaching, teaching, prophecy whatever.

2. Show me in scripture where tithing is called for in the New Covenant. It’s not there. If you’re going to live by the law then live by all of the law. Shellfish anyone?

3. What are these ostentatious and overblown buildings for? My understanding is that the old temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and will not be rebuilt until Christ returns and the only other temple is our bodies.

4. I recognize the need to have communion with other believers. In Acts these meetings took place in homes. If too many people start showing up start another group.

Churches and Christian groups do  a lot of good in the world. Don’t get me wrong.

I don’t tell anyone not to go and tithe and be on building committees and on and on. If you want to meet and pay some person a salary to talk to you then by all means do so. It’s none of my business.

I also have never been able to get one Christian “professional” to answer any of these questions without a lot of spiritualizing and obfuscation.

I’m not proselytizing anyone.

All of this actually kind of pushes me to the Catholic Church because if you’re going to buy into it you may as well buy into the original brand.

If you want to talk or convince me then please do. If you want to be mad please don’t.

It is not my intention to offend anyone or belittle anyone’s beliefs.

The opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions or views of management.

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15 Comments on “Probably A Bad Idea”

  1. daniel says:

    1. It seems to me to be a pretty big jump in reasoning from Matthew 27 to church leaders should only be bivocational. As Christians I think that we are free to have pastors that are paid and pastors that are bivocational. Each of these positions presents its own challenges and benefits, but neither is intrinsically better than the other.

    Regardless of whether you agree with this, some churches have bivocational pastors and staff, so if (1) is a big problem for you, then go to a church that has an unpaid staff.
    (supporting church members to some degree is not unprecedented in scripture since Paul did accept some gifts. The moral here is do whatever furthers the kingdom.)

    2. The new testament expresses the ideas of the old testament in a way that cuts to the intentions of the agent. The actions are less important than the motivations in the new testament. So, in the new testament it’s more than don’t commit adultery; it’s don’t lust—it’s more than give 10% of all that your earn; it’s be a generous and cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7).

    Does the new testament ever explicitly teach that we should tithe 10% of all that we earn? No, but giving generously is going to be at least that.

    Again, if this is a big problem for you, then join a church that doesn’t focus on bottomline financial results, and rather emphasizes being generous and taking part in the work of the church.

    3. I don’t know. Though I don’t know exactly what you mean by overblown and ostentatious. (I think I have some idea.)

    I will say this: I think that there is some place for impressive buildings in the work of the Church, if the buildings are constructed as works of art that are designed to bring about in believers a state of worship and reverence.

    However, if the purpose of a building is to show the power (and the depth of the wallets) of those that built the building, then it is clearly contra the purpose of the Church.

    4. Nothing wrong with a home church, but I suspect that the early church primarily met in homes not because that is the best model, but because Christianity was an illegal cult. I suspect that if they could have collected into big public groups they would have. (I suspect this, because as soon as Christianity was no longer illegal this is exactly what happened.)

    How are you doing church currently?

  2. jeofurry says:

    Rob,
    Honest questions deserve honest answers. I am sorry that no one has been willing to answer them for you before. I will try to answer your questions if that is OK and I will try to be as straightforward as I can.

    1. Paul did not say that no one should earn money as a minister. In fact, he said quite the opposite. 1 Timothy 5:17-18 is one such reference, “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.”
    He says something similar in 1 Corinthians 9:1-14; even thought he further mentions that he has refrained personally from earning a living among the Corinthians by way of his ministry among them. He argues that those who devote themselves to ministry can be compensated for that work.
    The multimillionaire preacher is also addressed however, and not in a positive way, in 1 Timothy 6:5 for instance, he mentions those who think godliness is a means of gain(speaking of wealth). Our own master, Jesus, had plenty to say about the perils of wealth as well.

    2. Your second question is based on an incorrect assumption. The fact is that the New Covenant is not an abrogation of the Old Covenant or the Mosaic Law as such. Jesus affirms this in Matthew 5:17-18:

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

    Last I checked the earth and heavens are still with us. This is further confirmed if you look at the OT passages regarding the New Covenant. Jeremiah 31:31-34 says that the New Covenant is the Law written on our hearts:

    “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

    This is the passage that the writer of Hebrews cites several times in speaking of the New Covenant. There is a similar passage in Ezekiel 36:26-27:

    26And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

    The issue of tithing isn’t just a Mosaic issue in any case. Abraham tithed as well, before the Law was ever given. It appears from Scripture that tithing is a Godly principle, not just some legalistic thing. The Law wasn’t given for salvation in any case. Salvation has always been by faith (Romans 4:13-14 for instance).

    3. Ostentation and overblown buildings have no Scriptural support whatsoever. Even the Temples were overdone according to Scripture itself, but God still permitted and even blessed them. It seems to be in His nature to put up with us, even when we are goofballs, but only to a point. Not every church is a huge church however and there is nothing wrong with building a place in which to meet. Jesus didn’t condemn having a synagogue to meet in, rather we find Him there worshiping and teaching in that setting in the Gospels as well as in the Temple.

    4. You need to take a second look at Acts. The early church met in the Temple itself in Solomon’s Porch (Acts 2-4 and beyond probably until its destruction). In other places in Acts, the believers are typically meeting in local synagogues as well (Acts 6:9; 9:2, 19-20; ch. 13; 14; 17; chapter 18 until that synagogue kicks them out and they start a new one next door; 19:8). Paul’s testimony in chapter 22 mentions that he hunted down believers in the local synagogues (where they had to be meeting for this to make sense). The early church wasn’t just a “house church.” There is nothing super scriptural about meeting in homes only, despite what some modern guys have tried to claim. It is good to have meetings in homes, but those are supplementary not stand-alone to themselves.

    I hope that helps a little bit anyway. If you want to talk more about it, I am more than willing.
    Shalom,
    Jeff

  3. Laura Thompson says:

    For my own beliefs I believe that God wants us to enjoy the fellowhip of other Christians and their strength with ours is what the

  4. Laura Thompson says:

    This is my belief: The church of Jesus Christ is a fellowship of other believers, aka saints, who support one another and join in praise, prayer, and support in all occasions of life. In all my life my strongest friends have been those I have met in the church and are the most long lasting. I too have not been involved in organized religions as of late, and only one of this site knows the reasons. Mine are far different than the author. Reared as a Bapstist, I do believe their essential foundation of how we get to Heaven and having Jesus as our personal Savior who gave His life for His love for us, to pay the penalty of death for our sin. It is a oversimplistic idea for many to grasp but a book I read so many decades ago explains the relationship between God, sin, and man quite well, “The Guilt Trip” by Hal Lindsay, explains the relationships and the nature of man quite easily. I suggest its reading. I know this, the church is not a building, it is not the preacher, but a group of like believers who support each other regardless of tithing, livelihood, and station in life. There is no judgement, a thing most rare in in organized religion. I do know too that the church indeed helped me rear my children, giving them the educational syngergistic education they got from home about right from wrong, character and giving. I do love the fact that many nondemoniational churches are a good thing and that the Catholic religion is not the original one and it is frought with ugly sins from those who used it for political power. I would never go to a church who believed that the Pope was without sin and who worships a mother figure who was human rather than the Christ himself. To each his own. Peter and Paul, Barnabas and party started the original church and Catholicism had no place in that church. I strongly advise the author to do more study on church history and advise readers to his understanding in that area. I know you believe and I know you believe the right order of things. Understand the church has a place in our lives, but only if we are fed by the Spirit there, and I do believe He exists there most of the time. Prosperity religion is the perverted monster of the love of the love of God. Never confuse that with the true One.

  5. Laura Thompson says:

    I see that my comments are loaded with mispelling and poor grammar, one things I despise to see in public writings, so with that I send my apologies. I guess I shouldn’t have been in a hurry, but it is a strong belief I have. I know my life when I was involved in the church activities, even when I couldn’t stand the preacher, and now that I am not. There is no comparison to the level of spiritual thinking, activities, and prayer when I was involved then. No comparison. I live a life much less fulfilled than it was then and I only have myself to blame. Like I said, the church is not the preacher, but the people who believe in you, your fellow saints and believers who are generally and lovingly holding you up in prayer and surround you with service when you need them most. I have seen the difference. I’ll end now with a note that there is a church for everyone which fills them with the Holy Spirit to help them through the pitfalls of what life has to throw us in.

  6. Robert says:

    Daniel
    I knew this was a bad idea.
    You make several good points that I don’t intrinsically disagree with.
    I’m just asking.

  7. Robert says:

    Jeff
    Once again, as with Daniel, I knew I would regret this.
    Thank you Jeff for your well thought out and sound answers.
    It gives me a lot to consider and I truly appreciate it.

  8. Robert says:

    Laura
    I can’t say I strongly disagree with anything you said and as you know would agree with most of it.

  9. Robert says:

    I don’t see any misspellings or grammatical errors. Just a person with sincere beliefs.

  10. Fr. Ernesto says:

    Actually, I think you raise some good questions. And, the reason I think you do is because the same questions were raised in the New Testament Church.

    1. Should ministers of the New Covenant be paid? That obviously was a debate in New Testament times because of the number of times that Saint Paul has to deal with the issue. In Corinthians he defends his right to receive support, even though he freely chooses not to take it. Interestingly enough, he cites the fact that Peter and his wife traveled together on mission and received support when they arrived at different churches. In 1 Timothy 5:18, he again argues for support of those who pastor. So, it was a live issue in New Testament times, but I would argue that the answer is that a pastor is entitled to sustenance, if he wishes. In passing, I am a working pastor, so the church at which I am an assistant gives me no money. This gives me the freedom to argue for those who choose to be paid by the church.

    2. Actually, the New Testament standard is to be willing to share all if necessary. The Sermon on the Mount goes far beyond the tithe in saying that if a stranger wishes your cloak, to give it to him. In the Book of Acts, the believers shared everything. Though it did not last, there is a continuing strong emphasis all the way through the Book of James that giving ought to be abundant and sacrificial. So, actually, the tithe would be the least of a believer’s call in the New Testament.

    3. There is no clear New Testament answer to what you have said in the epistles. However, the Orthodox use the Book of Revelation strongly in their worship practices, and there one has some very clear examples of golden vessels, censers, etc. One’s answer to your comment will depend on how one sees the Revelation as applying to today’s worship.

    4. As has already been mentioned in an earlier comment, the believers in Jerusalem quickly built a synagogue. So, they obviously saw value in a building dedicated to being a temple.

    And, finally, the Catholic Church is not the original brand. There were five ancient patriarchates. Four remained together and one split off. That one became the Roman Catholic Church. Up until the Muslim conquests and then the later colonial expansion of the West, the overwhelming majority of believers were found in the four Patriarchates that remained united.

  11. Robert says:

    Fr.Ernesto

    Actually, I think you raise some good questions. And, the reason I think you do is because the same questions were raised in the New Testament Church.

    1. Should ministers of the New Covenant be paid? That obviously was a debate in New Testament times because of the number of times that Saint Paul has to deal with the issue. In Corinthians he defends his right to receive support, even though he freely chooses not to take it. Interestingly enough, he cites the fact that Peter and his wife traveled together on mission and received support when they arrived at different churches. In 1 Timothy 5:18, he again argues for support of those who pastor. So, it was a live issue in New Testament times, but I would argue that the answer is that a pastor is entitled to sustenance, if he wishes. In passing, I am a working pastor, so the church at which I am an assistant gives me no money. This gives me the freedom to argue for those who choose to be paid by the church.

    I think we might agree completely on this issue. However, I believe it has been abused with the multi-millionaire pastors and I’m not just speaking of the going to hell televangelists. Can you imagine Paul, Peter or Timothy becoming exceedingly wealthy through ministry?

    2. Actually, the New Testament standard is to be willing to share all if necessary. The Sermon on the Mount goes far beyond the tithe in saying that if a stranger wishes your cloak, to give it to him. In the Book of Acts, the believers shared everything. Though it did not last, there is a continuing strong emphasis all the way through the Book of James that giving ought to be abundant and sacrificial. So, actually, the tithe would be the least of a believer’s call in the New Testament.

    Yes. Who is giving all?

    3. There is no clear New Testament answer to what you have said in the epistles. However, the Orthodox use the Book of Revelation strongly in their worship practices, and there one has some very clear examples of golden vessels, censers, etc. One’s answer to your comment will depend on how one sees the Revelation as applying to today’s worship.

    I think that the icons and majesty of the church bring us to a place of worship and reverence. I think the cheap imitation of most evangelical churches makes us introspective and insular.

    4. As has already been mentioned in an earlier comment, the believers in Jerusalem quickly built a synagogue. So, they obviously saw value in a building dedicated to being a temple.

    See above.

    And, finally, the Catholic Church is not the original brand. There were five ancient patriarchates. Four remained together and one split off. That one became the Roman Catholic Church. Up until the Muslim conquests and then the later colonial expansion of the West, the overwhelming majority of believers were found in the four Patriarchates that remained united.

    This I do not know about. Can you suggest an enlightening book?

  12. Fr. Ernesto says:

    Let me answer your two further questions, the last one first.

    Any history of the Mediterranean area that goes into enough detail will mention the Great Schism of 1054. Generally they only mention that Cardinal Humbert traveled from Rome to Constantinople and deposited a tome of excommunication on the altar at Hagia Sophia. The Patriarch of Constantinople is always mentioned.

    But, it takes a good history book to mention that there were three other Patriarchs around, the Patriarch of Antioch, of Jerusalem, and of Alexandria. For a highly secularized version of the patriarchates go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentarchy. Warning, this article would rub all Orthodox the wrong way because of its highly secular analysis, but it will give you a historical overview.

    As to who is giving all, there were many figures in Church history who gave all. For instance, think of St. Francis of Assisi. To this day all monastics give all. But, it is not required of all Christians. Nevertheless, there is a call to give that is much stronger than the Old Testament Law.

  13. will says:

    I come in with an odd perspective. I am bi-vocational, this last two years, I have been try- vocational, trying some different things to keep a roof and food for the family. I have not been able to take a salary from the church for months.
    From the real world, the building[ it is no church, we, here, you rob, jeff, ernesto, laura, we are the church. Christ;s bride has a split personality, but He loves Her, the building, is handy. A meeting place, a safe haven, a shared responsibility, a place for the communal meals. Few of us at Dayspring have houses with the space, or parking, sometimes the heat, to host a gathering. It is essential for those reasons. Also the church is a common ground. No one owns it or controls it, it is a group property.
    I have seen buildings be a burden, but ours is a blessing, if an expense.
    Rob, I deal with the church-slapped, and you fit in to that group. When something does not work for us, we assume it is the thing that is broken, but perhaps we were just a square peg in the round hole of whatever it was.
    The Catholic church is not the original, it has changed and morphed into something unrecognizable to it’s founders.
    Could it be that some work in churches, some in houses and some on the streets, but we all work for the same Father, impowerd by The Spirit, taught by Yeshua, the Risen Messiah.

  14. Robert says:

    Wiil,
    You and Jeff, Laura, Daniel and FR. Ernesto are so awsome.
    Thank you so much for your responses,
    All of them are well thought out and as a cliche a blessing.
    Will and Jeff.
    I know you are not getting rich serving Christ. I suspect the same is true of Fr. Ernesto and I know it is true of my friend Laura.
    It renews me and makes my faith stronger.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  15. Robert says:

    I forgot to than you as well, Will.


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