“The laborer is worthy of his hire,” Jesus said, but when making out the pastor’s paycheck, many Bible-believing churches do not seem to believe that Jesus really uttered those words.
We don’t know anyone who went into the ministry thinking he would get rich there; if anyone did, the joke is on him. But how can a man do a wholehearted job for the Lord and for His Church if he can’t pay his bills on time? Most ministers and their wives are willing to sacrifice materially; should not the members of the church sacrifice a bit too?
The fact is, most of them don’t. One minister spoke to us recently about his not uncommon monetary experiences. He had recently received a call from the chairman of the pulpit committee of an independent church that was bursting at the seams and, on its $15,000 annual budget, building a new sanctuary. When the discussion got around to salary, the caller offered $5,400 per year plus parsonage without utilities. “A man with three children could not live on that,” our friend observed. “He could exist, nothing more.”
“My wife and I became engaged the night of my ordination,” he continued, “and were married while I was pastoring my first church. One family there offered my bride and me an old iron bedstead they were throwing away. Believe it or not, they were offended when I refused it! When we moved to another church the salary offered was $5 per week less than what we could get by on. The salary was increased by that amount, but the chairman of the board, who was earning $20,000 a year, held that increase against us the entire time we were there. He felt we should have taken the initial offer and lived by faith, but it struck me rather forcefully that there was no evidence of that kind of faith in his life!
“During my next pastorate, although we had our third child, our salary was not increased for several years. Our dining-room rug, which was made of a twisted paper material, was ripped, and we had to tack its curling corners to the floor. Our budget did not permit us to buy even a bottle of soda. One of our deacons offered to increase his giving through the church so that our salary could be raised $10 a week, but the finance committee did not accept his offer because they felt it would obligate the church at the next budget time. Providentially, the next day I was asked to teach a class in a Christian school for $10 a week. In such ways the Lord has always met our basic needs. But there have been few luxuries. For the first nine years of marriage my wife and I could not afford to eat out or even to exchange gifts (though I spent $100 a year on books, which, I realize now, wronged her and hurt our relationship). For vacations we always visited (read sponged on) my parents. One year when we returned our neighbors told us they had been taking bets that our car wouldn’t get us back. Some testimony for the Lord and the church! I am thankful that our present church has increased our salary each year by at least the percentage of annual inflation, and sometimes the raise has been more than that.”
Many churches are taking a long hard look at their pastor’s salary in the light of the current cost-of-living index, and they deserve commendation, but many more need to think green. Studies show that the salary for most ministers is below the Bureau of Labor Statistics “moderate” income for a worker’s family. Although the minister has three or more years of post-college study, he is at an economic level lower than that of most inexperienced beginners in industry or government. A chemist with an educational background comparable to the clergyman’s now earns at least $4,000 more than the minister. And studies made in 1963 indicate that the financial plight of the minister is getting worse. Forty per cent of the wives of clergymen now work outside the home—double the 1963 percentage. Even allowing for the influence of women’s lib, that’s an astounding increase.
Many churches augment the minister’s income by providing his home. But this is a mixed blessing. If a pastor is not building equity in a home, where will he live when he retires? One church solved that problem by giving the parsonage to its pastor of many years even before retirement came. Other churches now give a housing allowance so that the minister can buy his own home. Some churches at least buy annuities for their pastor, in addition to paying his Social Security.
And what about the minister’s car expense? Other employers requiring travel provide vehicles or reimburse the driver for using his own car. The pastor should be reimbursed a fair amount (the government pays ten cents a-mile) for the mileage driven in church affairs. A concerned church will also want to cover hospital insurance, make provision for convention and conference expenses, and provide a book allowance for its minister.
Responsible laymen simply must not take advantage of their ministers. If a church cannot adequately support a pastor, it would be better for that congregation to elect one of its own members to do the preaching or to merge with another Bible-believing church nearby. Christian love demands that the congregation make certain their clergyman’s hire is worth his labor. They might begin by asking themselves if they would work for that kind of money.
Who Cares For Earth?
A Chrysler executive says that of 15,000 pollution-control kits sent to dealers last year, only about 50 have been sold. A total of 13,000 kits, which retail for only twenty dollars and which significantly reduce emissions in cars without air pollution control equipment, have been returned by dealers.
Even if we allow for Chrysler’s inadequate promotion of the kits, these are appalling statistics, suggesting that the man in the street has been moved very little by all the alarms of our ecology crisis.
This is an issue in which Christians have the chance to lead the way. Those unwilling to help set the pace in preserving the environment say in effect that they lack respect for the works of God’s hands.
A Court Writes Theology
Many of Hawaii’s residents are indignant about the appointment of Matsuo Takabuki as a trustee of the fabulous Bishop Estate. According to the will that set up the estate, trustees are to be chosen “from among persons of the Protestant religion.” Takabuki, however, has had no publicly known connection with Protestantism and even is thought by many to be a Buddhist. His appointment by the state supreme court touched off a major controversy.
While Takabuki himself remained silent, some interesting arguments for his Protestantism were circulated. Some said that he attended a chaplain’s class while in the military service. A columnist reasoned that every Christian not a Roman Catholic is obviously a Protestant. Others proposed an even wilder syllogism—anyone not a Roman Catholic is a Protestant.
Gilbert and Sullivan could have turned this situation into an ingenious, hilarious farce; yet it’s no laughing matter. The Bishop Estate is one of the most valuable in the world, with assets reported to approximate $400,000,000, and owns nearly one-tenth of Hawaii’s total land area.
But no matter how great the value, tampering with a Protestant trust surely is an obstacle to the free exercise of the Protestant religion. If indeed there is a reliance on a new, unhistorical, and ultimately meaningless definition of Protestantism, truth is being sacrificed to linguistic artifice.
A Vision Realized
In America parents may choose between public and independent schools, an option not permitted in all countries. Independent schools have full liberty to teach religion, though not all of them elect to use this freedom. In the last fifteen years, however, the Christian school movement has increased dramatically. Yet long before the present burgeoning of evangelical elementary and secondary education, an independent college preparatory school for boys at Stony Brook, New York, was correlating its program with Christ and the Bible in a way that set a pattern for the integration of faith and learning.
This month The Stony Brook School begins its fiftieth year. Founded by a group of conservative evangelical leaders headed by Dr. John F. Carson, who had been moderator in 1911–12 of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., the school began on September 13, 1922. Though Presbyterian in background, it has never been denominationally affiliated. Its doors are open to students irrespective of denomination or race. The organizer and first headmaster, Frank E. Gaebelein, served for forty-one years until his retirement in 1963. It was primarily his vision and zeal that brought Stony Brook into reality, and won for it great distinction down through the years. Among his books, two—Christian Education in a Democracy and The Pattern of God’s Truth—are definitive contributions to educational philosophy. (Many readers of CHRISTIANITY TODAY know Dr. Gaebelein as its co-editor from 1963 to 1966.)
Beginning with twenty-seven boys, The Stony Brook School has grown to a student body of 230 with a faculty of twenty-seven The study of the Bible, required of all students each year, stands at the center of the curriculum. The faculty has been built upon the principle that Christian education can be accomplished only by committed believers, and it exemplifies the compatibility of faith and scholarship. Continuously accredited by the Middle States Association since 1928, Stony Brook has sought excellence for the glory of God; in doing so it has gained an acknowledged place among the finest independent schools. Among the graduates are leaders in missions and the ministry, education and the law, medicine and science, business and industry, government service, and writing and the arts.
While private education has sometimes fostered social exclusiveness, from its inception Stony Brook through far-reaching scholarship aid has attempted to maintain a robust democracy, having in its student body, boys from several different foreign countries.
At the call of the trustees, Donn M. Gaebelein, a graduate of Princeton and Columbia, succeeded his father in 1963. His thirteen years of experience in teaching and administration included heading the boys school at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. Under his leadership the Stony Brook enrollment and plant have grown. The curriculum has been enriched, the spiritual life of the school continued in accord with the present needs, and the program of scholarship aid enlarged, making possible more help for students from minority groups. Few if any evangelical educational institutions have more effectively made black students a part of their life than has Stony Brook in recent years. Now, as its fiftieth year begins, the school is responding to necessary change, moving into coeducation with the admission of girls as day students.
We congratulate this school for its consistent Christian commitment and for the quality education it offers. We look forward to further progress at Stony Brook.
A Freeze In Late Summer
President Nixon has shaken the nation and the world twice in a short time. Not long after he announced his forthcoming trip to mainland China, he imposed wage and price controls, added a 10 per cent import duty, and let the dollar float on the world currency market. The full meaning and effects of his decisions will certainly not be known for some time.
The reaction of well-known economists to the new policy was quite diverse. That a number were at odds with Mr. Nixon and with one another on many points is a fact some churches might ponder. If expert economists take opposing positions, how can church leaders who lack economic expertise make authoritative pronouncements on complex economic matters: Should they not stay within their own bounds, where they can speak from Scripture with certainty and authority?
The President’s action has hurt many people, among them those who expected a cost-of-living pay raise in the next few months. But whenever wages are frozen, some people suffer more than others. Many will consider their sacrifice well worthwhile if the controls help to halt inflation.
Mr. Nixon’s decision is a clear affirmation that his previous policies have failed. We applaud him for having the courage to admit this and try something new. We only wish he had acted more promptly to remedy a situation that he did not create but inherited from previous administrations.
To suppose that this or any other legislation will magically solve our economic problems is, of course, naive. Underlying much of our predicament is the urgent need that Americans truly earn their high wages, salaries, and profits by so increasing productivity and excellence that our goods and services are in great demand both at home and abroad. For too long we have coasted on our reputation and the advantage we had in emerging relatively unscathed from World War II. Hard work, ingenuity, and competence are required as never before if our high incomes are to be real instead of inflated.
Will Mr. Nixon’s new policy work? At this point no one can say. There are too many unknown factors in the equation, such as the possible actions of other countries. We take courage from the fact that Germany and Japan, who lay prostrate in 1945, have recovered and assumed places among the world’s economic giants. The United States can find the way out of its economic morass if it has the will. Only time will tell whether it does.
The widespread availability of photocopying machines provides another means of stealing—as if there weren’t already enough ways to break the eighth commandment. The problem involves the laws of copyright, established to protect the rights of individuals to monetary income for their labors. Writers, composers, and illustrators, for example, support themselves and their families not by creative work itself but by selling the product of their creativity. Moreover, their income is usually a few cents on each sale; it’s the large number of copies sold that enables them to make a living.
But the culprits—those who would never think of stealing another’s tangible property, or who would never think of taking copyrighted material and typesetting it, printing it, and selling it for themselves—misuse the photocopying machine. They will buy, for example, one copy of an anthem for the choir to sing, and then photocopy enough copies for every choir member to have his own. No conscientious person should engage in such an obviously illegal action (see News, page 44).
But there’s one other culprit: the highly unrealistic state of copyright law in view of modern developments in photocopying and information storage and retrieval systems. According to copyright law it is a violation either to make one photocopy of one page of a thousand-page tome or to make a hundred copies of an entire piece of music. Until the writers, publishers, consumers, lawmakers, and other interested parties come up with a rational, equitable, enforceable set of laws to bring copyright and technology into reasonable alignment, individuals and groups should avoid photocopying multiple copies or single copies of significant portions of a work without permission. We will be glad, however, to give you permission to reproduce without payment as many copies of this particular editorial as you wish!
Once again time has fooled children and men. Vacation-time seemed to stretch far ahead with the arrival of spring and early summer. Students buried their books beneath tennis rackets and swim suits while adults planned to spend time away from work and pressure. But suddenly we are on the threshold of another school year as an over-ripe summer bursts irito a full fall. Vacations get shorter, the school year gets longer, work piles up; “And time that gave doth now his gift confound,/Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth/And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow.”
Children become adults and adults too quickly become old, observed Shakespeare as he warned men of time’s tricks. Paul, too, reminds men that time disregards men and their plans. He admonishes us to “look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time … understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:16, 17). Whether in school, at work, or on vacation we must use our time wisely for God, or we may find that time has used us and made us fools.
True Grit For The Gospel
A young man of twenty-six arrived in Philadelphia in 1771, sent by John Wesley to be a preacher to the few hundred Methodists and to the hundreds of thousands of non-Christians in the colonies. When Francis Asbury died forty-five years later he left behind a denomination with over 200,000 members. Today, two hundred years later, the bearers of the tradition of Asbury are divided among scores of denominations, only some of which bear the Methodist name.
Regrettably, the Gospel that Asbury proclaimed is no longer heralded from the pulpits of many churches that acknowledge institutional ties with the “Father of American Methodism.” But we join with those who do still preach the same saving message in commemorating his coming to our shores. And we wonder whether God is raising up in our times men who will, like Asbury, be willing to forego marriage and comfort and undergo hardship (Asbury rode horseback an average of more than fifteen miles a day through all kinds of weather, over all kinds of terrain) for the sake of the Gospel. The challenge of reaching the hardened inhabitants of our cities today is every bit as great as that which faced Asbury as he surveyed the cocky conquerors of the colonial wilderness. To meet this challenge, the Church today needs men every bit as tough as he was.
God-Talk Is News
For many years daily newspapers avoided analysis and commentary on religious issues. The taboo was overcome in the 1950s largely through the enterprise of Louis Cassels of United Press International and George Cornell of Associated Press. Their weekly columns and spot coverage of religious developments persuaded many a newspaper editor that theological and ecclesiastical news was too hot not to handle. Interpretative reporting of religious affairs was welcomed by readers.
Cassels and Cornell are still on the attack against religious illiteracy. Mr. Cassels, forced to suspend his column this past summer because of illness, hopes to resume writing this month. Both men were raised as Southern Baptists but now are active lay Episcopalians.
Interestingly, an Episcopal priest also has joined the ranks of nationally syndicated religious news analysts. He is the Reverend Lester Kinsolving of San Francisco, whose weekly column is now picked up by dozens of large daily newspapers. Once an outspoken exponent of radical causes, Kinsolving has turned into a reporter of considerable repute. He doesn’t mind putting people on the spot in pursuit of a story. His reportage contains highly opinionated elements, but these are readily apparent and seldom misleading.
Kinsolving’s admirable bent for candor was well-illustrated in his coverage of Billy Graham’s Oakland crusade. Many a reporter, perhaps thinking he’s doing Graham a favor or assuming the general public is not interested, plays down the evangelist’s theology. Not Kinsolving. He echoed the sermon emphases authentically. One story began, “Billy Graham affirmed the existence of the Devil last night.” Another, “Nearly 41,000 people in the Oakland Coliseum yesterday afternoon were warned solemnly by Billy Graham that they will be ‘cast into the Lake of Fire,’ if ‘you are not listed in God’s Book of Life.’ ”
That is refreshingly straight reporting—and the world needs more of it.
Estranged From The World
Scripture characterizes Christians as pilgrims and strangers in this world (Heb. 11:13). But too many Christians either are unfamiliar with this teaching, or, if they do know about it, compromise their lives to live peacefully with the world. Paradoxically, those who consider seriously the role of pilgrim and stranger often withdraw from the world. These ascetics seem unaware of Jesus’ command to be in the world but not of it.
The majority of Christians live and act as strangers of heaven but citizens and friends of this world. For example, materialism grips many believers; they are trapped by possession of houses, lands, or cars, losing life’s abundance by trying to find it in ownership of things. Ornate, expensive churches and cathedrals also display Christians’ materialism. Some of Europe’s most famous cathedrals are meccas for tourists rather than temples for worship. They remind us of such famous castles as Versailles, built by Louis XIV. With their hundreds of ornate rooms whose occupants have long ago returned to dust even as their royal lines have perished with them, these structures are monuments to the hopelessness of man’s materialism trap.
The call to God’s kingdom is the call to a new relationship in which our citizenship is in heaven while we remain on earth. As long as we live in the world we must be keenly aware that as pilgrims and strangers we can never feel fully at home here. We are travelers in transit spending a short time on earth en route to our ultimate destination. The glory of that pilgrimage lies in the assurance that our estrangement from this world will yield to complete harmony and full fellowship in the world to come.
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