By Brannon S. Howse
The Southern Baptist Convention picked Ronnie Floyd as its next President of the Southern Baptist Convention; the largest protestant denomination in America. I believe Floyd's confirmation is further confirmation that the SBC is a theologically bankrupt organization.
One of my concerns with Floyd is his unbiblical teaching on stewardship as well as his recommending the book of a Word of Faith false teacher. In a video that has gone viral, http://vimeo.com/87916585 Floyd can be seen and heard in what I can only describe as manipulating his congregation to believe that they should cough up their money first and foremost to his 501(C)(3) before even paying their mortgage. So the church staff salaries and buildings come before making sure your family has a roof over their head?
I am told some SBC churches actually contribute to some of their staff’s retirement. According to a 2007 report in the Dallas Business Journal:
Guidestone Financial Resources, based in Dallas, has topped $10 billion in organizational assets at the end of April. Formerly known as the Southern Baptist Convention Annuity Board, the financial services organization changed its name to Guidestone in 2004.
$10 billion? But don’t you dare think of paying your families mortgage before giving your expected percentage to the nonprofit church that might actually be using some of those funds to contribute to a staff person’s retirement account.
Remember Ronnie Floyd’s church is reportedly a mega church with numerous locations and buildings. I just wonder how many zero's are in Floyd’s salary? His church is free to pay him as much as much as it wants. However, I do find it greatly offensive when a man that is supposed to be a shepherd appears to be fleecing the flock by taking Scripture out of context when it comes to the issue of stewardship.
This proclamation by Floyd is just so disgusting that I truly cannot put it into words. http://vimeo.com/87916585
Does God want you to give money to a mega church before carrying for your own family? No! In I Timothy 5:8 we read:
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
I have an audio ( http://www.worldviewweekend.com/radio/audio/john-macarthur-tithing )
of a young lady asking Dr. John MacArthur during a Q&A time at Grace Community Church if she should continue to tithe to the church or pay off some debt that seemed to be creating a financial issue for her. Dr. MacArthur quickly told her that the tithe is the Old Testament tax but as to giving to the church he admonished her to pay off her debt in order to protect her Christian witness and then she could choose to give to the church ministries as the Lord lead her. Dr. MacArthur told her that the Word of God instructs us to give out of generosity and not out of compulsion. However, he did affirm that we are to give to the work of the Lord.
Here is a short video clip ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afu8sW-NGEw ) of Dr. John MacArthur explaining why the Widow’s mite is not a story to be used as an example of sacrificial giving but of a corrupt religious system that exploits the poor, “the weak, the desperate and defenseless.”
Many Christians sadly do not know the Bible well enough and thus they are defenseless against a religious system and “pastors” that prey on them by telling them they are Biblically sinning if they don’t fork over a set amount of their yearly income to his organization. Many of these so called churches are really just organizations that do not fulfill the Biblical model of a New Testament Church.
Some mega church pastors are now making up to $400,000 a year according to a 2010 report. (Source: http://www.christianpost.com/news/report-reveals-salaries-of-megachurch-pastors-46779/ )
I guess such salaries could motivate the “pastor” to make sure everyone is giving their “fair share” regardless of the financial crisis the family might be experiencing.
What does it say about a pastor that is so theologically ignorant that he does not seem to know that the “tithe” is the Old Testament tax of Israel? However, let’s set that aside for a moment. Regardless of how you feel about that issue, can we not all agree that Ronnie Flyod should not be positively quoting and recommending a book by a Word of Faith false teacher Robert Morris?
The book by Morris is endorsed by many Word of Faith false teachers. Among many troubling things, Robert Morris has had New Age Mormon Glenn Beck speak at his church: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF14jfexNaI
Morris says Beck loves God but does Morris not understand that Mormonism teaches that their god evolved from flesh and bone to become a god and that Mormon men can become as god?
Robert Morris has said that people that don’t tithe are opening the door to demons. Seriously? http://vimeo.com/76311562#at=0
However, all of the theological issues with Robert Morris does not seem to have stopped Arkansas SBC “Pastor” Ronnie Floyd from promoting a book by Robert Morris to his church congregation.
You would think all this information is more than enough to stop someone like Al Mohler from nominating Ronnie Floyd to be the next SBC president. http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?id=42045
Refreshingly, Pastor Wade Burleson gets it Biblically correct when he writes:
The root problem, in my opinion, is a common mistake made by institutional churches and those who lead them. Christian leaders sometimes make our their 501(c)(3) nonprofit institutional churches to be the kingdom of God. They are not. 501(c)(3) nonprofit institutional churches are kingdom tools, but they are not the kingdom. To be more specific, the church to which you belong is a tool whereby the kingdom of God can be advanced, but it is not the kingdom of God itself.
This is a vital distinction that must be clear among Christian leaders and people who belong to institutional churches or churches will continue to be on the slope of slow decline. We preachers deceive church members when we act as if our institutions, our budgets, our buildings, our programs, and everything else about our non-profits are equivalent to God's kingdom...
Pastor Wade continues:
The key to prosperity for any nonprofit church is have leadership that is keenly aware that churches are but tools in the kingdom and all Christians, including Christian leaders of nonprofits, are simply servants/stewards in the larger kingdom. The New Testament only speaks of the kingdom and servant leadership, not 501(c)(3) nonprofits. The New Testament only refers to the "temple of God" as the people of God, not institutional brick and mortar buildings. The New Testament only knows God's people as believers in Jesus Christ from different regions and cities, joining together as needed to advance the kingdom of God. The New Testament knows nothing about individual, institutional churches with big budgets, big buildings and a professional staff who claim to be God's priests and vicars over laity.
How do you know if an institutional church sees itself as "the kingdom of God?" Here are a few ways to determine:
If the pastor proclaims himself as your "spiritual authority" and demands obedience to his will, then you have an institutional church that has set itself up as the kingdom of God.
(2). If the pastor equates giving to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit institutional church as "giving to God," and not giving to the 501-C3 non-profit institutional church as "stealing from God," then the institutional church has set itself up as the kingdom of God.
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Another pastor that understands that the tithe was the Old Testament tax of Israel is Dr. John MacArthur who writes:
Two kinds of giving are taught consistently throughout Scripture: giving to the government (always compulsory), and giving to God (always voluntary).
The issue has been greatly confused, however, by some who misunderstand the nature of the Old Testament tithes. Tithes were not primarily gifts to God, but taxes for funding the national budget in Israel.
Because Israel was a theocracy, the Levitical priests acted as the civil government. So the Levite's tithe (Leviticus 27:30-33) was a precursor to today's income tax, as was a second annual tithe required by God to fund a national festival (Deuteronomy 14:22-29). Smaller taxes were also imposed on the people by the law (Leviticus 19:9-10; Exodus 23:10-11). So the total giving required of the Israelites was not 10 percent, but well over 20 percent. All that money was used to operate the nation.
All giving apart from that required to run the government was purely voluntary (cf. Exodus 25:2; 1 Chronicles 29:9). Each person gave whatever was in his heart to give; no percentage or amount was specified.
New Testament believers are never commanded to tithe. Matthew 22:15-22 and Romans 13:1-7 tell us about the only required giving in the church age, which is the paying of taxes to the government. Interestingly enough, we in America presently pay between 20 and 30 percent of our income to the government--a figure very similar to the requirement under the theocracy of Israel.
The guideline for our giving to God and His work is found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each ne do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver."
When I contrast what we have read and heard from Pastor John MacArthur and Pastor Wade Burleson with the clips by some of these other “pastors” I think it reveals that difference between a shepherd and a shark.
I remember when a Southern Baptist Pastor told me to my face that it was a sin that I was not coughing up 10% of my income every year to his 501-C3. I asked this pastor to provide one New Testament Bible verse that said I was sinning by not giving 10% of my income to his 501(c)(3). He said “What about bring your gifts into the store house?”
First, that is Old Testament and not New Testament and second that was literal grain that was being brought into the store house and then the Levitical priests would distribute it to the widows and orphans. I promptly told him I would be happy to see that a dump truck of grain is delivered to the church and dumped in the parking lot but that I expected to see the deacons out in the parking lot bagging it up to take to the widows and orphans in the church. Needless to say he did not want me to bring my gifts into the store house as described in the Bible and turned down the offer of a dump truck of grain.
I explained to this pastor that my wife and I do give to the work of the Lord but that does not mean I am compelled to direct all my giving to the local church that employed him. In fact, I explained that due to fact that the church was constructing what I felt was an unneeded multimillion dollar building I was convicted that I should direct some of our families giving toward certain ministries that I knew to be financially and theologically responsible. After all, the Bible has a lot to say about Biblical stewardship.
If you have a solid Bible teaching church that is teaching you the Word of God in context and is involved in Biblical ministry then God’s Word tells us we should financially support those that minster to us. (1 Corinthians 9:14, 1 Timothy 5:17) We are also called to support Biblical missionaries that are faithful to the Great Commission.
The increasing problem I see and hear about is that many people attend a church where the pastor is theologically sound for the most part yet overall the church itself has stewardship issues that are of concern. Many people remain at such a church because it is the only option in their area. In other words, the decline in true New Testament Churches causes many people to find a local church where the pastor’s preaching is average but the church itself has serious stewardship issues such as:
• The church is Millions of dollars in debt because of their building program; a building program that some of the families felt was not necessary due to the amount of debt that was required to build the addition.
• The church supports missionaries that are not all Biblically sound or that are theologically shallow. Some of the missionaries lean toward social justice or are planting churches using the new Rick Warren model.
• The church has men that are not qualified to be deacons or elders according to the Biblical standard
• The church has Sunday school teachers that are known for teaching things that are not Biblical and some of them are known for taking Scripture out of context and yet nothing is done to remove these individuals as Sunday school teachers.
• The church youth group is more about entertainment instead of Biblical discipleship. The church often promotes student and adult conferences that are not Biblically sound.
• The church has people on the staff that don’t seem to be needed or they are known for not doing their job with excellence.
• The church budget reflects expenditures that are wasteful and even superfluous.
Many people I know attend such a church because it is the only choice within miles and miles. These people tend to donate something to the church to assist in the pastor’s salary, the light bill, and the heat and air conditioning bill. Beyond that, many families are supporting missionaries directly that they have personally checked out theologically.
Some families are spending resources to take their families to a Bible conference because their church ministries are so lacking in the desired worldview, apologetics, and theologically training they desire for their children.
Some families are supporting a local Christian radio station because the Bible teaching they hear each day is what is really ministering to them.
The bottom line is that many families do give to a local New Testament Church and they do so joyfully when and where they see Biblical stewardship. Many of these families give to the work of the Lord in many different ways. However, just because they are not giving 10% of their income to a local church does not mean they are sinning. Remember the tithe is the Old Testament tax of Israel.
If you believe God is laying on your heart to give 10% of your income to the work of the Lord then give 10% but not because Scripture has been twisted or your arm has been twisted. The Lord may lay on the heart of some to give 15% or 20% of their annual income after taxes. However, the issue is that there is no set amount we are commanded to give. We are told in 2 Corinthians 9:7 to give without compulsion.
It appears that many mega church CEOs are increasingly known for how they browbeat their congregations for money using the Old Testament tax of Israel. Are these guys that theologically ignorant or do they really know the truth but use the tithe of the Old Testament to manipulate their congregations? Either way it does not speak well of them does it?
The video (http://vimeo.com/25896597#at=0 ) of Pastor Steve Gaines of Memphis, Tennessee telling his congregation they are stealing from God if they don’t cough up 10% to his church went viral last year. Note to Steve: Malachi 3:9 is an Old Testament text that is referring to the tax of the theocracy of Israel. The New Testament Church is not Israel and not a theocracy that demands a tax or tithe.
Are these pastors making mega salaries? Is this why they need to keep the funds flowing even if it means taking Scripture out of context and quoting false teachers? The Baptist Press reported on October 16, 2006 http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=24193
“those at odds with Gaines also claim that the pastor’s salary has been set at nearly $500,000.” In the December 20, 2006 Baptist Press it was reported:
“Earlier this year, Gaines' brief tenure at Bellevue encountered a stormy challenge from a former deacon, Mark Sharpe, and other opponents whose accusations -- aired on the Internet and in the Commercial Appeal -- include Gaines' alleged intimidation of those who disagree with him, his alleged forcing out a popular music director and his alleged refusal to disclose his salary, which they contend is nearly $500,000.”
I think that for “pastors” like Ronnie Floyd, Steve Gaines, or Robert Morris to harangue, guilt, intimidate, or twist Scripture to compel their congregations for a set percentage, in my opinion, amounts to spiritual abuse at best and at worst it smells of Word of Faith theology.
Are some “pastors” that bully their congregations into coughing up a set amount pulling in total salary packages that equal $250,000 to $500,000 or more. http://www.christianpost.com/news/report-reveals-salaries-of-megachurch-pastors-46779/
No wonder such “pastors” are twisting Scripture and twisting arms for church members to give up 10% of their personal incomes. Such behavior is not spiritual fruit but rotten fruit.