Only the beginning: Bible publishers, Bible society execs, and Bible translators should disclose their pay and its sources...
(Tim) In an earlier post on the marketing of the just-issued New International Version 2010, I made a point of specifying the profit Biblica makes off Bible royalties paid by Zondervan each year, and that it's likely Doug Moo and his colleagues on the Committee on Bible Translation are paid for their work from this profit. To which one reader responded: "The problem isn't that Bible translation committees get paid."
To which I respond:
My point wasn't that paying scholars is wrong, but that every product that's a matter of life and death or supported by tithes and offerings or tied to peddling the Word of God should be subject to full disclosure. So, for instance, if Don Carson writes a book speaking ex cathedra...from the lofty chair of objective scholarly judgment claiming gender-neutered Bible translation is good Bible and good translation, every man reading that book should be told up front that Don is reviewing what he himself was paid to do: Don got paid to produce the New Living Translation, a gender-neutered Bible translation.
But when Don wrote his book and many thousands bought it, this information was largely unknown. And then Don got paid lots of money from the royalties of that book in which he positively reviewed the translation technique he used to produce that other book he was paid for.
Similarly with Doug Moo: if he gives interviews and writes posts and articles hawking his latest Bible product, people need to think money. And in Doug's case, personal money he's personally paid to do this work.
The New York Times and New England Journal of Medicine have strict disclosure policies. Why would the church think such disclosure is less necessary when she believes in the holiness of God and the depravity of man? Is it less pertinent to know that this and that scholar has been paid money to produce a Bible product, review it positively, and speak and write, marketing it, than it is to know this and that scholar has been paid money to help produce this and that drug or to sit on the board of the pharmaceutical that makes money off that drug?
It's easy to do this: Tim Bayly gets paid salary and housing in the amount of a little over $70,000 by Church of the Good Shepherd and a few hundred a year in honoraria and from book links on Baylyblog (this year the total from both will be less than $400).
Now really, was that so painful? Think of Jesus watching specific amounts being put in the Temple treasury by specific persons, and commenting on those amounts and persons to His disciples. It's really quite simple.
We tell each other what our income is and where it comes from and this full disclosure is very useful as we work to judge one another's motives and work. (And if you don't think judging motives is right, read any of the New Testament Epistles again, more carefully--Galatians, for instance.)
When I tell you I get paid by my congregation, it's no admission of evil. Rather, it's a discipline allowing our readers to know that, for instance, this blog is a labor of love--not profit--and that I don't criticize gender-neutered Bible translations because I get paid to do so; nor have I been paid to produce a competing product.
It's time for full disclosure in the church. Money is killing us--and not our bodies, but our souls!
Let every blogger indicate what money he makes off his blog; every man producing a Bible product indicate how much he makes off Biblica's Zondervan and off professing at Wheaton and off royalties paid for his commentaries; every author to indicate what his royalties are; every non-profit exec. to indicate precisely how much he makes off Biblica or Ligonier Ministries; every missionary to indicate what his annual support budget is for the work he does in Kenya or Germany; every parachurch worker to disclose his annual support budget for the work he does with the fifteen students in average attendance at his campus group meeting each week on the campus of Indiana University; each publisher to tell us what profit he makes off the New International Version 2010; and so on.
Those who live off salaries provided by Indiana taxpayers have their salaries listed, publicly--including profs at IU.
Why should those who live off the tithes and offerings (or Bible purchases and conference registrations) of the people of God not have their salaries publicly known by those who pay them? So much more is at stake in the church.
Really, it's a modest proposal: if a man peddles the Word of God, he should disclose his profit.