Money & stewardship

Tetzel, eat your heart out...

"As soon as a coin in the coffer rings / the soul from purgatory springs." - Johann Tetzel's pitch as he sold the indulgences that funded the Sistine Chapel.

Amazon has started a Christian book imprint called Waterfall. Publisher Mark Pereira explains Waterfall's mission to the Library Journal:

Our main focus [at Waterfall] is to publish books that entertain and inform readers with a transforming message (that includes) Christian Living through spiritual refreshment and personal growth (as well as) stories in the romance, mystery, and suspense genres.

Books with a transforming message that entertains readers. Christian Living and spiritual refreshment through mystery, suspense, and romance. 

The recent merger of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson Publishing is now called HarperCollins Christian Publishing and the same Library Journal article reports this explanation by HC Christian Publishing executive Tracy Danz of their market for Christian fiction...


Menlo Park Presbyterian Church leaves the PC(USA)...

The cost John Ortberg and Menlo Park Presbyterian Church have agreed to pay in order to be dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (USA) is around $11,000,000.

Back in 1991 when our church in Wisconsin left the PC(USA), our presbytery simply confiscated everything. They recognized our congregational vote for transfer into the PCA as legitimate, they dismissed Rosedale Presbyterian Church as a church, and then they confiscated the church building, the baptismal font made by our elder's grandfather, the cemetery, the manse, the banners our children had made for Easter... They changed the locks on the doors immediately.

We made no protest.

My final sermon was on September 15, 1991. Our  text was Hebrews 10:32-34 and the sermon title was "You ...Joyfully Accepted the Confiscation of Your Property." During the sermon...


Post on John MacArthur's money: answering objections...

Back on January 30th, we ran a post updating readers on the latest IRS Forms 990 filed by John MacArthur's non-profit companies and what they show about his annual income. Since the post, several commenters have questioned whether MacArthur really had any say over his study notes being packaged with the neutered New International Version, whether we're saying MacArthur's income is sinful; and if so, what specific sin we're accusing him of? Here are some responses to those questions and challenges:

Brothers,

I've been out of the loop for a while. I appreciate others who have responded to some of the more recent objections to this post. Now, a couple responses of my own.

First, John MacArthur himself had absolute control over whether or not to package and sell his MacArthur Study Bible notes with the neutered Bible now sold under the name New International Version. It was his decision and he alone is the man who could have stopped it. His elders board did not make the decision.  Zondervan doesn't control MacArthur's study notes. John MacArthur controls John MacArthur's study notes. This is how publishing works.

John decided he didn't want to lose out on one of the largest Bible markets in the English-speaking world, so after negotiating royalties (which unlike John Piper's royalties, remain a secret), he signed an agreement with Zondervan to sell his own study notes in the text of a Bible that everyone knows has gagged God's words for the sake of pacifying the feminists.

There's no debating these simple facts. Readers may differ concerning the reason MacArthur did this, but it's certain he made the decision to sell the neutered Bible he had previously opposed because of its unfaithfulness to the text of Scripture.

Second, the Bible commands us to exclude men from ministry who are greedy:


John MacArthur revisited...

[NOTE: This post has been edited to correct a mistake concerning chronology.]

Today, I decided to check to see what happened to John MacArthur's compensation by Grace to You and Masters College and Seminary as reported in the 2012 IRS 990s? The 2012 990s (reporting on 2011) are the next year of figures that have been made available since the last time we wrote here on Baylyblog. Again, the IRS requires MacArthur to reveal these numbers. Thus the numbers here that are not estimates are public records.

Here then are the more recent 2011 figures compared to our previous 2010 figures...


A.W. Tozer: man of prayer, introverted pastor, and Evangelical mystic...

A Review of Lyle Dorsett, A Passion for God The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer (2008)

A number of us have enjoyed the books of A.W. Tozer (including, The Pursuit of God, The Knowledge of the Holy, and Worship: The Missing Jewel of the Evangelical Church), but few of us know anything about his life and pastoral ministry. Years ago, I read James Snyder’s biography of Tozer and learned a lot from it. However, this more brief biography by Dorsett was based on interviews with Tozer’s family and friends, so it gives a more intimate portrait, though that’s a complicated word to use to describe Tozer.

He was born in 1897 in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Central Pennsylvania. The third of six children, Tozer’s family was poor and all the children learned the value of hard work that farm life teaches. His father modeled aloofness and insensitivity to his children. He was irreligious and his family did not attend any church, though he encouraged his children to attend school. Aiden Wilson Tozer finished the eighth grade, but that ended his formal education.

The key event in Aiden’s childhood took place when the family home burned down when he was ten years old...


Midwifery finally legal in Indiana...

Mary Lee and I are very pleased that using a midwife is now legal in the state of Indiana. Birth is no sickness and mothers should be able to labor in the comfort and security of their own home. Mary Lee gave birth to three of our five at home and those three are better-adjusted than their siblings born in the hospital. Which is to say the three born at home are girls and the two in the hospital, boys.

Mary Lee serves the women in our church as a doula. We don't try to talk anyone into using a midwife, but we support mothers who don't have a high-risk pregnancy and choose a home birth. Home births are safe, they save a scadgoogleplex of money, and they put mothers and women back at the center of childbirth.


Announcing the Tim Keller study Bible...

Publishers dream about Bibles because they are the cornerstone of publishing profits. Putting out a new Bible translation can assure a publisher's profitablity for generations, but short of a new translation, study Bibles do almost as well.

In a recent interview, Christianity Today's Global Publishing Director, Cliff Johnson, spoke of the profitability of Christianity Today's study Bibles:

Both the NIV Student Bible and the Quest Study Bible have been some of the most visible Christianity Today Bible products. Both were done with Zondervan and have produced ongoing revenue streams for quite some time now.

Tim Keller has been hitting doubles and triples with his books the past few years. Now he's going for the cycle with Christianity Today's recent announcement of the Faith and Work Bible to be marketed under the Keller/Redeemer trademark. Christianity Today CEO Harold Smith explains the Keller study Bible...


A joke circulating in the EU just now...

Recently, in Europe…

A Greek, a Cypriot, an Italian, a Frenchman, a Portuguese, a Spaniard, a Finn, an Austrian, a Dutchman, and a German regularly go out for lunch together. This they did once again several weeks ago. The bill was for 500 euros. Everyone contributed as he saw fit and here are their payments:

  • The Greek, the Portuguese, the Spaniard and the Italian paid nothing.
  • The Cypriot paid one euro.
  • The Frenchman paid five.
  • The Austrian paid 50.
  • The Finn 80.
  • The Dutchman 100.
  • And the German paid 264 euros.

This went on for quite a while. The men met for lunch, ate, and were happy. But then the cook messed things up...


John Piper steps down...

But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. - Proverbs 4:18

On the occasion of Pastor John Piper preaching his final sermon as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, I take this opportunity to salute the man for his financial self-discipline. We need to learn the lesson this man preaches through the way he handles his money.

First, the back story.

Some time back, David and I co-authored a post revealing the huge amounts of money Reformed men pull in through their church salaries, conferences, speakers fees, sermon and video sales, book royalties, and the salaries they pay themselves through their nonprofit businesses. We spent time on Guidestar downloading and reviewing IRS 990s filed by various nonprofit businesses including LigonierGrace to You, Masters College and SeminaryInsight for Living, and Desiring God.

The Internal Revenue Service holds to a high doctrine of original sin. They take money and conflict of interest seriously, requiring nonprofits to file Form 990 which asks a whole host of questions the government believes should inform the giving of those inclined to support these nonprofit businesses. Here are some of the questions they ask:


Bus monitors, bullies, authority, and money...

Yesterday I was reminded of just how rich Americans are. Our conception of money is like that of a Roman general returning to Rome after sacking and pillaging enemy countries. We throw it down on those less fortunate than us in an attempt to make them like us. Or maybe it's an attempt to make us like us. 

By now you've probably already read about the 67 year-old bus monitor who was being harassed by Jr-high students while they video-taped their exploits. When you're in Jr-high it's easy to make fun of people who are old and fat. It's entertaining, too--and not just for 7th graders. Millions of people around the world have been entertained by the video. However, apparently it's one of those guilty pleasures, where you watch and laugh and then say, "Shame on you!" while you hide your smile.

Somebody came up with the bright idea of trying to raise $5000 dollars to send this poor bullied woman on a world-class vacation, and now, with the amount raised in excess of...


Christ the Word dedicates new church-house...

CTW children on platformLast night I was able to attend the dedication of the new church-house of Christ the Word, and what a privilege it was!

After walking around the building singing, the children entered the sanctuary and went up onto the platform holding Bibles aloft as we sang praises to the Lord. After a minute of chaos as all the kids went down to find their parents, the service continued with a sermon by Pastor Dave (Max) Curell. Two men from outside the church were honored for their work: Mike Vrlenich who directed Christ the Word's capital campaign before moving to Naperville two years ago; and Mike Boles who served Christ the Word pro bono as general contractor. Christ the Word elder, Ben James Sr., led us in the prayer of dedication.

May God bless Christ the Word precisely as Ben James asked here in his prayer:


Honor to whom honor is due...

While we're on the subject of money...

Over the years countless times I've given thanks to God, but also to Dad and Mom Taylor (Ken Taylor and Margaret Taylor), for the way they handled the money God poured out on them.

One of the minority of privately held Evangelical publishers left standing today is Tyndale House Publishers and it's owned entirely by Mom Taylor now that her husband, Ken, passed away a few years ago. (Prior to his death, Dad owned 51% and Mom 49%. Sweet, huh?)

Tyndale House has published a number of best sellers and Dad held personal copyright on some of the best-selling books in the Evangelical publishing world including the Living Bible and The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. Then of course, Tyndale's goose that lay ten thousand golden eggs was Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series which reached sales (books and related merchandise) of over a billion dollars.

Add up the numbers and you'll see how high on the hog Dad and Mom could have lived and how much money they could have left their children...


You cannot serve God and wealth...

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. - Luke 16:13

Recently we've spent time on Guidestar downloading and reviewing IRS 990s filed by various Evangelical ministries including Ligonier, Grace to You, Grace to You/Masters College and SeminaryInsight for Living, and Desiring God.

Like accountants, our Internal Revenue Service holds to a high doctrine of original sin--much higher than today's Reformed pastors and congregants. Taking money and conflict of interest seriously, the IRS requires nonprofits to file Form 990 answering a whole host of questions the government believes should inform the giving of those inclined to support these ministries. Then the information collected through the 990 is made a matter of public record. Here are some of the questions...


High liturgy: the art of worship...

Considering the movement towards employing art for an experience of trascendance among Reformed types today, it may help to study what others have done in a similar vein.

A quarter century ago, the world’s greatest tightrope walker, Philippe Petit, requested permission to display his prowess high above the nave of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City. The performance was described as follows:


Presbyterians and social class...

When William T. Manning, a former Bishop of New York, was asked whether salvation could be found outside the Episcopal Church, he replied, "Perhaps so, but no gentleman would care to avail himself of it."

- Jervis Anderson, Profiles, "STANDING OUT THERE ON THE ISSUES,"The New Yorker, April 28, 1986, pp. 46 ff.

 


Vanderbilt University's totalitarianism: your tax dollars at work...

(TB: This post is submitted by a calm and reasonable man who is himself the product of a large public research institution's school of law.)

As if breathing the breath that comes from their Heavenly Father’s hand weren’t enough, as if the fruit of the Holy Spirit and centuries of Christian spiritual capital deposited into education weren’t enough, Vanderbilt University leadership takes money from Christians hand over fist and then gags the Christian conscience. The money I’m talking about isn’t tuition paid by Baptist or Episcopalian students. It’s the nearly half billion dollars of federal money that Vanderbilt has steam-shoveled into its coffers. In 2009 alone. Vanderbilt even brags that it broke the Top 25 varsity ranking in its haul of federal collegiate pork. You can find more details on the webpage maintained by Vanderbilt’s “Office of Federal Relations.” Some relations.

So why is federal largesse (i.e., tax receipts and U.S. sovereign debt) Christian money? The vast majority of Americans who pay federal income, capital gains, excise, and a motley assortment of other federal taxes identify themselves as Christians. Further, it’s likely that our descendants...


Your mission giving should be reformed to support work like this...

We're hoping later to make available to you a movie documenting Doug Wilson's Gospel witness a week ago on the campus of Indiana University. Meanwhile, watch the very short video above. This video provides a clue why campus ministries have become gnostic societies sharing secret knowledge for their trusted initiates only.

God's Word, His authority, His Moral Law, His Judgment, His Hell are met with hatred and mob fury on secular campuses today. They've been publicly abandoned by campus parachurch workers making a living off church support, because not to abandon them is to run the sort of gauntlet you see Doug and Clearnote Campus Fellowship running in this video clip.

Knowing a bad thing when they see one, parachurch ministries have run for their lives. Few of them have any grid to understand the Holy Spirit's use of conflict and martyrdom as Gospel-centered, missional tools, so any hint of conflict or rebellion teaches them what never to do again. Thus no teaching on God's authority. No proclamation of fathers' authority. No declaration of Church authority. No discipline of members. No teaching on the Created Order  and the nature of manhood and womanhood. No warning and condemnation of sodomy. No warning against baby-slaughter (abortion). No mention of submission or repentance.

Just "the pure Gospel," which means the Gospel eviscerated of repentance...


Lotteries and gambling...

(TB) Biggest jackpot ever? It's a good time to run this post by David Wegener again.

* * *

We got some new books for the Theological College of Central Africa library, recently. Now they are being processed to go into the collection and I was reading one of them this morning. The book is, John H. Leith, 2001, Pilgrimage of a Presbyterian: Collected Shorter Writings, ed Charles E. Raynal, Louisville: Geneva Press. On pages 208-13, there's a short article he wrote in 1956 titled, "Gambling--What's Wrong with It?." Here's a summary...

Faithful are the wounds of a brother...

If you've not read Citizens' Arrest! Citizens' Arrest!, please read it first. Then this. (TB)

Here's a true story showing how important it is for pastors and elders to challenge one another's motives. Our session (elders board) had been working with a schismatic family of our church for years when MTW TE David Wegener came home on home assigment one year.

We have a policy that David is a pastor of our church when he's here. He'd served our congregation before leaving for Zambia and we have never wanted to lose his wisdom and counsel, as well as that of his wife, Terri, when they're in town. So David favors us with his presence when we have session meetings each month and he often gets into the yoke with us on some of our thornier pastoral matters. Terri teaches our women's groups and David preaches in worship and teaches in Clearnote Pastors College as often as he and Terri are not out deputizing at their supporting churches.

So this particular evening we were again discussing the latest schismatic behavior of this family and David had just gotten back in town and was present. He knew the family well, including that they were quite wealthy...


Pleasantly surprised by Kony 2012...

(TB: this is a guest post by Pastor Lucas Weeks) 

Three weeks ago, Invisible Children, Inc released a video entitled Kony 2012 about Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army in central Africa. (If you haven't heard about the Invisible Children, or about Joseph Kony, you can check out the back story here on Wikipedia.) The aim of the video was to raise awareness about the conflict and about the children that suffer in its wake. The movie has garned lots of attention, including over 17 million views on vimeo and many millions more on youtube. It has even been called "the most viral video in history". Not all the attention has been positive, though...