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The Vocational Pastor: examine all the evidence

Posted by on Jun 8, 2012 in elders | 3 comments

The Vocational Pastor: examine all the evidence

I’m working through a few posts on the topic of discussing the “vocational pastor” – that is, I’m looking at the connection between elders/pastors and salaries in Scripture. In the first two posts (“The Vocational Pastor: an interesting discussion” and “The Vocational Pastor: keeping on topic“), I primarily wrote about why this is a difficult topic to discuss. The topic is personal and emotional for almost everyone involved. In the third post (“The Vocational Pastor: the definitions I use“), I explained what I mean by the phrase “vocational pastor.” Then, in the previous post (“The Vocational Pastor: tradition, background, and perspective“), I suggested that it is important to know a person’s background in order to better understand their perspective on this topic (or any other topic, for that matter).

So, what’s next? If we’ve carefully considered how to approach the topic, we’ve defined our terms, and we understand each other’s perspective, what do we do next? Well, we examine the evidence – all of the evidence. Since my desire is to examine the connection between salaries and elders/pastors in Scripture, then my evidence would primarily come from Scripture. Secondary sources, experiences, etc. would only be helpful in explaining Scripture. (Now, it might be beneficial to examine this topic based on other evidence besides Scripture, but that’s not my goal here.)

The difficulty is that there is no specific passage in Scripture that either commands or forbids salaries for elders/pastors. There is no “smoking gun,” if you will. (Someone could disagree with me on this point, of course.) Thus, any position that someone might hold on this topic would be derived from many different passages. And, that’s why it is important to study all of the evidence.

Plus, each passage would have to be studied in context to determine if and/or how it might relate to this specific topic. Is the passage related to salaries or some other type of benefit (financial or otherwise)? Is the passage related to elders? If either salaries or elders is not directly addressed in the passage, then an argument must be made to connect the passage to salaries and/or elders in spite of their direct absence. Furthermore, once you have determined that a passage of Scripture does (or does not) connect salaries with elders/pastors, you still need to figure out how the topics are (or are not) connected within that passage.

Finally, it’s important to understand the argument and position of those who disagree with you. At what point do they disagree? What evidence do they use? Are you examining the same evidence (even if you come to different conclusions)? If not, then you will probably end up talking past one another.

So, when discussing a topic like this, it is not generally helpful to throw your favorite Bible verse – even if you feel it is the lynch pin in your argument. Instead, it’s much more helpful to carefully consider and examine all of the available evidence, and carefully and thoughtfully consider the positions of those who disagree with you.

So, this is the end of my series on how to discuss the topic of the connection between elders/pastors and salaries in Scripture. The point of this series was NOT to present my position (although I do have a position, which is that Scripture does not support the practice of paying someone a salary in order for that person to be an elder/pastor). Instead, the point of this series was to help us all discuss this topic.

What would you add to this? What can we do to make this a topic that is easier to discuss, especially between those who disagree?


3 Comments

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  1. 6-8-2012

    All I can get is that under the old covenant tithes were paid, Hebrews 7:11-27 Aronic priesthood inferior to Christs’ priesthood. The levitical priesthood was supported by the other 11 tribes as in 10% of what they each did for a living, and the levitical priests were thus paid for their work in the Lord, and it was the law for them to own nothing.

    In the new covenant, we have a change of the priesthood, no longer under the levitical priesthood. The new is in the order of Melchisadek, Hebrews chapter 7 the whole chapter. When there is a change of the law which is in hebrews reading the whole book of. And today it is Love God’s love that is in place, and we are forgiven our debt(s) I hope we show mercy as God has shown Matt 18:21-35.a good example
    Under the new we are under giving not tithing, 2 Cor 8,9, and 10. but we have our gatherings, taking in tithes and tithes is not of the new testament, no where in the new covenant is tithes mentioned. So there are no paid pastors, elders or anyone in the new covenant is to be paid a salary of any sort. If there is then that will and would be a law and back under bondage to the law. When you give give out of a heart of compassion not compulsion. What you have; not what you don’t have. So it is good to give to a pastor, elder, and visa versa. But this is not happeniing this way today and this is why i think that if
    Christ himself were here today he would not be in the churches built today by man Hebrews 8. We all today are under a much greater covenant, one that I cherish, appreciate and respond to in thankfulness, giving whatever and wherever led to do, in freedom, expecting nothing in return
    Howard

  2. 6-10-2012

    Howard,

    There’s much more evidence in the New Testament than the passages that you mentioned. But, thank you for the comment.

    -Alan

  3. 6-10-2012

    Alan and thank you back, and there are a lot more as you said except no where are tithes mentioned anywhere under the new covenant. Today it is a heart of giviing from God through the Holy Ghost, But man keeps mixing law and grace, which do not mix as oil and water will not either. You can stir it up real good though, yet when it all settles the law always is seperate, just like the oil settles seperate from the water.
    Howard