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  1. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric B View Post
    I don't believe the Church was ever supposed to become such a corporate (i.e. business) institution. Originally, they met in homes, and a person who knew the bible would teach the others. Support was really only for those constantly travelling, like the apostles, not for stationary ministers, or those who decide to go on a "mission trip"; and this was food and shelter, not a "salary".

    All of that is where the church took advantage of the end of persecution in the empire to organize itself as basically, a microcosm of the empire. Eventually, it became the big persecuting government, and then split apart when the stranglehold was broken through the advent of printing, forming dozens of mini governments, and then the more independent ones just went for a business model, and the incorporation laws included them as another "non-profit corporation".

    All of this might make it easier to have a nice building, and someone motivated to "lead", but then it becomes another power base that people covet for its own sake, and all the red tape as we see here, and spreading the message is dependent on, and in practice takes a back seat to all this other stuff.
    Well that's one version of events, another would be that the Church was eclipsed by capitalism and its value base.

    RH Tawney tells it well in his book Religion and The Rise of Capitalism, itself wrote in response to The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, which in some ways was a response to Marx, or at least the Marxists, suggestion that culture, including religion, springs from the economy.

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    Well, yeah, it became a government first, back before capitalism, when the Roman Empire was the model of organization. after the church broke up, then smaller, largely American bodies took the capitalist model.
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    It just seems funny that money and religion both have nothing to do with each other yet one can't function without the other? This isnt true. I know this, everyone knows this yet church is still receiving large amounts of money. Justify it if you want but even Jesus was against financial gain. Now his word is being used in order to support ones self. If he was here he wouldn't approve so why should we. Earning money is important to the preacher and not just for religious purpose but also financial stability. They are both equally important and that's a shame. God and Jesus wouldnt agree with either one and that's a fact. You don't need money to spread the word of God, you need money to maintain a church and you need to maintain a church to support its preacher. A preacher can make a living off of the church and that is also a fact. There is some financial gain to be made off of the church weather its big or small. And that has nothing to do with religion. Preachers know this weather that they admit it or not. How could they not know this? God would not agree or would he?

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    Plus here's a thought: Why is it the more successful the church the more financially stable the preacher? The only struggling preacher is the preacher of a struggling church. And a struggling church is a broke church.

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    Sure the church helps people, so does the hospital. The only difference is in a hospital the doctor isnt the only one who's making a living off of it.

    Now if you're going to help make the money to help people wouldnt it be nice to get some of it or is it only okay for SOME preachers to do this well being wrong for others? Maybe it's wrong either way. Maybe not. I don't know. But there seems to be a double standard in the religious community when it comes to this. They all seem to say "It's okay to make money in Gods name" well some add "just not a lot of it."
    Last edited by Bobble; 04-28-2011 at 03:29 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobble View Post
    Plus here's a thought: Why is it the more successful the church the more financially stable the preacher? The only struggling preacher is the preacher of a struggling church. And a struggling church is a broke church.
    How are you deriving success? Membership? Nice buildings? Not sure what your criteria is.
    You're also seemingly discussing western Christianity, under a capitalist system, so money will by nature dominates.
    Our culture runs on money and demands money -- whether for large buildings and ministries, or simply to pay for a car and gas to get to people to minister and for Bibles and food drives.

    Church looks different across seas and/or in the third-world countries.
    Because the culture is not greased on money, the church doesn't hinge on money.

    This is why there have been movements to create home churches, so that money is no longer an issue. Church moves out of a large conglomerate that demands buku amount of financial resources into people's living rooms and kitches, where everyone brings potluck meals, contributes their own experiences with God, and singing is free. People avoid all the overhead and instead emulate the original first-century church, gettin back to its roots, focusing on personal relationships with a core group.

    I also beg to differ a bit with the quoted thought: First of all, people tend to figure out their investment ministries, then continue to invest as long as things remain positive or neutral; they get attached. Second of all, all things have life cycles. A lot of the big ministries have taken downturns after their years of prosperity, especially if the investment was made in a particular figurehead (i.e., the pastor) and then that figurehead leaves.

    Case in point: Crystal Cathedral / Robert Sculler Ministries:

    Robert Harold Schuller (born September 16, 1926 in Alton, Iowa) is an American televangelist, pastor, and author known principally through the weekly Hour of Power television broadcast that he began in 1970. He is also the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, where the Hour of Power program originates. On January 22, 2006, Schuller announced his retirement...

    On October 18, 2010, Schuller Coleman announced that the Crystal Cathedral was seeking bankruptcy protection.[10]
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobble View Post
    Now if you're going to help make the money to help people wouldnt it be nice to get some of it or is it only okay for SOME preachers to do that well being wrong for others? Maybe it's wrong either way. Maybe not. I don't know. But there seems to be a double standard in the religious community when it comes to this. They all seem to say "It's okay to make money in Gods name" well some add "just not a lot of it."
    Money will always a controversial issue within the church, because the answer is ambiguous (and, I think, subjective).

    Is the church a business, or is it a ministry?

    Within the last few months, my son turned 16. This past winter, he wanted badly to go on a missions trip to Swaziland, to help people. Then he went through this torturous period involving money concepts -- was it better for him to not go at all and just send the money, to feed starving people? Why did he need to go at all if he could just use the money directly to help someone? Why do people spend money on DVDs and computers and cars and houses and nice meals out, when many people in the world live without food or shelter? And he felt like he was getting the blow-off from adults in the church, who hadn't really engaged him but just said, "Well, it's a balance." (Which might technically be correct, in the end, but didn't help my son work through things.) He was feeling like, if he really wanted to serve God, rationally, he needed to sell all of his things and give the money away.

    Hard questions, and some of the answers based on personal conscience.

    I don't think religious people have an easy out, though, if they consider their profession another way of serving God. In that case, there is not any real difference between serving God directly in a church, for compensation, vs working in the secular world to "serve God" for compensation, is there? Money is money is power to do things, it doesn't matter where it comes from. So the question remains regardless of whether we are talking church or secular profession, if one is religious.

    Good questions.
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  7. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric B View Post
    Well, yeah, it became a government first, back before capitalism, when the Roman Empire was the model of organization. after the church broke up, then smaller, largely American bodies took the capitalist model.
    I dont know, there was unity between church and state in Rome but to be honest I feel that's been exaggerated and wasnt the most important phase of the RCC's existence. Afterall it outlived the decline, fall and disappearence of Rome. In reality it was and is more confederal than its detractors or false friends would like to admit, the various religious orders, communities, missions, all had a life and locus of their own.

    Even reading Erasmus and Luther's discourse on free will and the context provided with most publishers editions of that work, its pretty hard to buy into the singular account of the church as a totalitarian and totalising entity. There was obviously more than simply the rise of new business practices, ie banking, interest, loans, credit (called commission unless the money lenders were Jews) and wage labour, for instance nation states, regional identities, principalities were all ready to wage war for their new found existence.

    Still those same business practices were pretty important, Tawney suggests that while in the beginning religious communities kind of entreatied, "made a peace", with markets, Quakers like Rowntree and Cadburies (choclate manufacturers) in the UK were paternalistic employers and set the tone for others like Guinness, that eventually markets became the source of values rather than religion.

    I wouldnt argue with that and I think when considered most closely most of the apparently maverick, minority or marginal values in the cultural wars of today have some basis in those which underpin or eminate from economic norms. The respect and legitimacy of individual sovereignty/choices which many want to enshrine in law or recognise politically is just the consumer sovereignty which theoretically rules in the marketplace.

  8. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobble View Post
    Sure the church helps people, so does the hospital. The only difference is in a hospital the doctor isnt the only one who's making a living off of it.

    Now if you're going to help make the money to help people wouldnt it be nice to get some of it or is it only okay for SOME preachers to do that well being wrong for others? Maybe it's wrong either way. Maybe not. I don't know. But there seems to be a double standard in the religious community when it comes to this. They all seem to say "It's okay to make money in Gods name" well some add "just not a lot of it."
    Hospitals were originally Church run institutions, they were created and are an organic out growth of the order of Knights Hospitaller, who used to provide services to pilgrims going to the holy land in order to comply with vows to uphold hospitality.

  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    How are you deriving success? Membership? Nice buildings? Not sure what your criteria is.
    You're also seemingly discussing western Christianity, under a capitalist system, so money will by nature dominates.
    Our culture runs on money and demands money -- whether for large buildings and ministries, or simply to pay for a car and gas to get to people to minister and for Bibles and food drives.

    Church looks different across seas and/or in the third-world countries.
    Because the culture is not greased on money, the church doesn't hinge on money.

    This is why there have been movements to create home churches, so that money is no longer an issue. Church moves out of a large conglomerate that demands buku amount of financial resources into people's living rooms and kitches, where everyone brings potluck meals, contributes their own experiences with God, and singing is free. People avoid all the overhead and instead emulate the original first-century church, gettin back to its roots, focusing on personal relationships with a core group.

    I also beg to differ a bit with the quoted thought: First of all, people tend to figure out their investment ministries, then continue to invest as long as things remain positive or neutral; they get attached. Second of all, all things have life cycles. A lot of the big ministries have taken downturns after their years of prosperity, especially if the investment was made in a particular figurehead (i.e., the pastor) and then that figurehead leaves.

    Case in point: Crystal Cathedral / Robert Sculler Ministries:





    Money will always a controversial issue within the church, because the answer is ambiguous (and, I think, subjective).

    Is the church a business, or is it a ministry?

    Within the last few months, my son turned 16. This past winter, he wanted badly to go on a missions trip to Swaziland, to help people. Then he went through this torturous period involving money concepts -- was it better for him to not go at all and just send the money, to feed starving people? Why did he need to go at all if he could just use the money directly to help someone? Why do people spend money on DVDs and computers and cars and houses and nice meals out, when many people in the world live without food or shelter? And he felt like he was getting the blow-off from adults in the church, who hadn't really engaged him but just said, "Well, it's a balance." (Which might technically be correct, in the end, but didn't help my son work through things.) He was feeling like, if he really wanted to serve God, rationally, he needed to sell all of his things and give the money away.

    Hard questions, and some of the answers based on personal conscience.

    I don't think religious people have an easy out, though, if they consider their profession another way of serving God. In that case, there is not any real difference between serving God directly in a church, for compensation, vs working in the secular world to "serve God" for compensation, is there? Money is money is power to do things, it doesn't matter where it comes from. So the question remains regardless of whether we are talking church or secular profession, if one is religious.

    Good questions.
    This is true.

    However I do think it can be self-injurious to faith and churches to attempt to totally divest themselves of all assets, the points made in the bible and by Jesus about wealth are interesting, the passage through the eye of the needle for instance is about an entrance through which an unencumbered camel can entre but one with a heavy load on its back can not, if you are encumbered by wealth you are not free to travel, to talk and listen with others, to enjoy the created world and find God daily, if you are encumbered by wealth you will be tied down, its administration, management and defence will be foremost in your mind. This is further emphasised when he speaks to people who can not abandon their former lives and follow him when its apparent, through miracles and pretty much being there in person, that this is a once in a life time offer.

    There are passages too in which Jesus corrects his followers about their literal interpretation of his teachings about wealth, the good samaritan had money in his pocket (as Thatcher loved to be able to say), the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive oil prior to his death was criticised for doing so but Jesus criticised those who criticised her.

    It is true that many exploit religion and to them it is a racket, there's many comparisons to be made with all other walks of life, the fan clubs which arise around sports or other diversions for instance. The convictions or otherwise of those involved in religious callings I think will pretty much be known to them and God.

    When I was younger I was a big fan of liberation theology and felt the RCC was totally astray, for instance being able to function as a bank, having a huge haul of antiquities but as I've grown up I've had to question would those same antiquities be cared for any better by being in a private collection? While there are palaces possessed by the Church, no doubt providing luxury for its own apparatniks, they are also conserved and shared for future generations, there are not new examples of anything of that kind being created or coming into existence today (except perhaps the structures created by the banks as offices).

    Similarly operating as a bank may provide some mitigating influence when cyclical crisis occur, particularly if they are made worse by capitalist greed, and with shrinking congregations of donors it is perhaps useful to have other means and assets for supporting the continuity of the Church too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    However I do think it can be self-injurious to faith and churches to attempt to totally divest themselves of all assets, the points made in the bible and by Jesus about wealth are interesting, the passage through the eye of the needle for instance is about an entrance through which an unencumbered camel can entre but one with a heavy load on its back can not, if you are encumbered by wealth you are not free to travel, to talk and listen with others, to enjoy the created world and find God daily, if you are encumbered by wealth you will be tied down, its administration, management and defence will be foremost in your mind. This is further emphasised when he speaks to people who can not abandon their former lives and follow him when its apparent, through miracles and pretty much being there in person, that this is a once in a life time offer.

    There are passages too in which Jesus corrects his followers about their literal interpretation of his teachings about wealth, the good samaritan had money in his pocket (as Thatcher loved to be able to say), the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive oil prior to his death was criticised for doing so but Jesus criticised those who criticised her.
    Yup. Those are all good examples of putting money in balance vs either worshiping it or rejecting it entirely. I think the error is simply making money the focal point of one's faith framework, which then forces one to do something with it. When I talked to my son, I tried to just be a sounding board for him, but if I gave him advice, it revolved around the examples you suggested (and others, like the Mary vs Martha incident, where Jesus placed value on spending time in proximity with him/others vs simply being industrious all the time, as Martha was). Money is something to be considered, but there are other aspects and purposes to faith that my son isn't considering at the moment, since he has become so aware of money for the first time now. (I know he'll get there and figure it out for himself, though, collecting advice along the way.)

    Money can help one fly; it can also be the ball and chain that drags one down to drown. Maybe part of the answer is not making money a central priority within the faith, but simply one item that can be used for good or ill. I still firmly believe that spirituality is somehow meant to make life more than it would be otherwise -- to fulfill some existential question, some form of wholeness that would otherwise be missed -- and while service/industriousness is an important part of engaging and investing in other people, there should be a joy of wholeness at the center of that, and so if all that industriousness and ability to accomplish goals is reducing a person to a machine that does tasks, then it's not a healthy spirituality.

    CS Lewis' autobio is called "Surprised by Joy," which is ironic considering his reputation as a logician. He's focusing on the result of his faith, however, which was this internalized sense of happiness and wholeness regardless of external circumstance.

    When I was younger I was a big fan of liberation theology and felt the RCC was totally astray, for instance being able to function as a bank, having a huge haul of antiquities but as I've grown up I've had to question would those same antiquities be cared for any better by being in a private collection? While there are palaces possessed by the Church, no doubt providing luxury for its own apparatniks, they are also conserved and shared for future generations, there are not new examples of anything of that kind being created or coming into existence today (except perhaps the structures created by the banks as offices).
    I think that is something we are missing today, in a world where life seems easier, craftmanship seems sloppier, people are less patient and more wandering. Despite the issues with the institution of the chuch over the centuries, the monuments erected to the ineffable and divine over that time are amazing, whether we are discussing architecture, painting, sculpture, music, or whatever. And yes, so while I feel the RCC is off in some ways, at the same time they are self-appointed custodians of some of the most majestic feelings and thoughts and experiences cast in tangible form by centuries of mystics and artisans. That task in itself seems valuable to me, even if I have mixed feelings about the church structure/theology itself.

    Similarly operating as a bank may provide some mitigating influence when cyclical crisis occur, particularly if they are made worse by capitalist greed, and with shrinking congregations of donors it is perhaps useful to have other means and assets for supporting the continuity of the Church too.
    I go back to the reality of the story, that Jesus was not rich. He had no money or house. He had the clothes on his back, a bag, shoes, perhaps a staff. Yet, if the story is true, he had a profound impact on his culture, or at least that that story resonates 2000 years later. And we know other people who have had few resources except for their own will and passion and belief, who have had profound impact on their culture. Maybe not everyone has the right temperament for that sort of life, but we are essentially capable of doing things with our time and energy regardless of the amount of money we possess. Church and faith is about more than money, even if money is a form of power to get things done, faith springs from the person and not the resources.
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