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...


2010            2011          John MacArthur's Income

$47,000       $103,000     (108% one-year increase) 40 hrs p/week at Masters College

$222,000     $402,000     (81% one-year increase) 20 hrs p/week at Grace to You

Add to the above John MacArthur's other personal income, speaker's fees, etc.:

$200,000    $200,000      conservative estimate of Grace Community Church salary

$200,000    $200,000      conservative estimate of royalties

$669,000    $905,000      TOTAL ANNUAL INCOME (projected)

 

Then consider this increase in the annual contract John (GTY) pays to his son-in-law:

$658,000    $694,000     Grace to You paid The Welch Group for video work (an example)


The figures above are reprehensible, but we're so attached to celebrity culture, we feel no shame.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Your criticism is dated 2012, these numbers are from 2011... did I miss something?

What the IRS labels "2012 Form 990" is a report on figures for the previous year, 2011. These are the latest figures available.

Andy, I think that Tim was unable to find the answer to his question (due to the report covering 2012 not being available yet) but posted what he did find.

Jesus said this for a reason. Matthew 10:25 "“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

It's hard for me to ever separate a man making $1 million dollars and not think that it means he is rich.

Actually, I needed to correct the post, and have done so. Thanks for pointing out my mistake, Andy and Daniel.

The figures for the year of our blog post (2012) aren't out yet, so the 2011 figures are only an indication of why they responded as they did—look at the huge pay increases they'd just given John that weren't even public knowledge, yet!

Any lowering of John's income as a result of our criticism would not show up until the 2012 990s are released, which should be soon.

Love,

And what if he gives away 90%? Or what if he squanders 90%? Is it not to his own Master he will have to give account?

Dear Jeff,

Yes, he will give an account to his Master for what he does with His money. But that doesn't mean that there is nothing that can be said about the practices of these organizations. After all, they are paying him with money that other Christians have donated.

When men ask for money in the name of Christ, to further His work, we must care whether they actually spend the money we give on the work they claim to be doing, or whether they are instead using it to pad their own nests.

This is exactly why the IRS requires non-profits to make this information public. 

-Joseph

Even Grace to You realizes that it matters how they spend the money. When they ask you to donate, they talk about "fiscal integrity" because such things matter. 

Where Does Your Gift Go?

Your gift can help in many ways. It can help cover radio expenses—there’s not only a cost for us to produce each program heard on radio and the Internet, but we also pay to be on many radio stations in the U.S. and abroad. Your gift can also help us cover day-to-day operating expenses and the cost of distributing resources free of charge by mail.  John MacArthur offers a free book or CD by mail each month, and hundreds of thousands of requests come back each year—a lot of CDs, a lot of books, a lot of ministry!

But I'm surprised that they have missed one of the best opportunities to convince people to give. They should have added:

"Oh, and your gift will also be used to minister to John MacArthur himself. With a salary of over $400,000, more than 2.5% of your very generous donation will go directly to him."

I'd be surprised if that didn't increase their donations.

I offer this stat just for some perspective. In 2009, people and households earning $1 million or more annually made up just 0.1 percent, or just over 235,000, of the 140 million tax returns filed. That would mean that a pastor belongs (or almost belongs) to the top 0.1 percent of earners in the richest country in the world.

Curious, then, to know if John has commented on his earnings. And I understand your point of view, Joe. But why focus on John? I would guess any number of the pastorpreneurs get paid quite handsomely. When do you think a line is crossed? Based on a chart provided in the previous article does RC get paid too much? How should a workman's wages be assessed? I know too many who think the congregation should keep the pastor poor and God can keep him humble.

>>> But why focus on John?

Jeff, it's only natural that loving rebuke be extended to one who has been so faithful over the years. After all, it's the sons that God disciplines, not the bastards. It's our privilege in the household of faith to be called to repentance by brothers. How precious to be warned and called back! I pray that these warnings take root in Pastor MacArthur, for his good and for the honor of Christ.

Well, a worker being worthy of his wages and all, I dare say that MacArthur's ministry has been an enduring labor that has reached a substantially greater audience than most complaining reformed pastors. As well, if he is putting that money towards good causes in other arenas, or leaving the proverbial inheritance to his children and grandchildren, I'd say he's doing much better with it than many wealthy, and we ought not be so concerned with the business of another's house than that of our own.

Dear Jeff,

He hasn't addressed it as far as I know. 

You're concern about churches despising their pastors and not paying them properly is worth addressing, which is partly what this article seeks to accomplish. You seem to think that raising a concern that some men being overpaid will justify wrong action. But on the contrary, it will actually help low pastors. I have a suggestion for how to deal with the problem of pastors not being paid enough. Ask everybody in the church who is concerned about over-paying the pastor what would be the maximum reasonable amount for any pastor to earn. Then show them John MacArthur's and R.C. Sproul's income and ask them to stop giving to those organizations or attending their conferences, giving the saved money to their local church. 

If they agree, then you've discovered they are actually concerned about over-paying pastors. If they balk, then you've discovered that actually they despise their own pastor and love super-stars.

The point is that celebrity culture is what produces this sort of insane salary and it is how men justify not paying their pastor enough. After all, he doesn't have nearly as "great of an audience" as MacArthur. MacArthur deserves this sort of pay. My pastor is an idiot.

If we kill the celebrity culture, we kill its fruit. Part of the fruit is despising our own pastors. How can the church today kill the celebrity culture? One way to do so is by pointing out that the celebrities are milking the sheep for everything they've got. How many people earning $55,000 per year would keep worshipping John MacArthur by giving him money if they knew he earned $75,000 every month? Unfortunately many of them would. But some will take warning.

-Joseph

Dear Adam,

Your argument boils down to a few points.

1. John has earned his monthly paycheck of $33,500 (just from GTY) because of his "greater audience." 

So the missionaries working with a small tribe in a remote African village deserve to be paid peanuts, right?

2. Even though he does seem to be afflicted by the same disease as Justin Bieber, John is probably downright holy comparatively speaking, assuming he does better stuff with his money.

I know it's tempting to compare yourself to others to try to justify your wrong actions as "not as bad." I'm pretty sure John MacArthur has dealt adequately with that flawed reasoning at some point. I'll let you find it and read it. 

3. We're just complainers and we should mind our own houses.

Nope. Not complaining. By the way, are you minding your own house or are you spending your time trying to point out public flaws in others? Just sayin'...

-Joseph

Dear Joseph,

Thank you for two helpful comments.

_____! You guys are ridiculous, and I can see why other people have commented negatively about your blog in the past. Your assessment of my arguments are nothing less than intentionally trying to steer the conversation in your favor by asserting points that were not, in fact, the argument being made. You're not stupid, but you use your knowledge of debate, and how to frame arguments in your favor against your opponents, in a disengenuous manner that is distasteful to thoughtful Christianity. I've three degrees, including an M.Div. from a rigorous reformed institution, and so have no need of pointing out any further your failure to debate with honesty. It's your home turf, so take this one, but I see why several years back one of my gracious and godly profs warned us against the petty bickering on your blog.

I'm still shaking my head at how unsubstantial your counter arguments were. It's like something you'd hear on a playground...

Dear Adam,

I don't regularly comment on this blog, but after reading your comments, I felt the need to offer you a loving rebuke.

I don't know you from Adam, but I do personally know the men you slander so openly, and I love these men, these pastors who shepherd their sheep, these brothers in Christ. My loving rebuke for you is to flee pride. I can only write these words because I am actively repenting of this very sin and God is so gracious in His discipline. Three things that are self-identifying in you comments:

1) Beginning any sentence "I've three degrees..." can never be humble. It is hard to imagine how one is able to avoid a concavity of the vertebrae, a stiff neck and a crossing of the eyes as one looks down his nose. "Three degrees"...''bluh, bluh, bluh"...the Apostle Paul says "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Phil 3:8).

2) "rigorous reformed institution" is a subjective, self inflation that is written with the intent to boast. Scripture says "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal 6:14).

3) "I see why..." yet you are blatantly dishonoring this prof through your public disobedience in slandering the men you call "complaining reformed pastors" or "playground philosophers".

Pride is a sin that you'll never see on your own. Repent.

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time" (1 Pet 5:6).

Warmly,
Jared

It is true that John MacArthur is extremely talented. If he had gone into business, he would certainly be worth more than a million dollars per year--- his corporation would increase profits by hiring him at that low a salary. He is even worth that compensation---perhaps more worth it--- in his current vocation, in the sense that his value to God's service is worth more than a million dollars per year.
But that's not the issue. Just because someone is worth a million dollars per year doesn't mean he should hold out for that high a salary. Someone made the key point above: *he is paid by donations*. If his income were lower, his ministries would have more money and be able to do more.
What if he donates 90% of his earnings to charity? Well, it's kind of silly to ask to be paid a million dollars from donations so you can give back $900,000 to the same charity, but he surely thinks his own charities are worthy and doesn't want to milk them to get money to donate somewhere else. Also, it's heavily tax-inefficient. On most of those earnings, he pays social security tax and income tax--- which in his case includes the very high California state income tax. The social security tax is not reduced by charitable donations. As for the rest, you can only deduct donations for federal tax purposes up to 50% of your income. Thus, if he made 1,000,000 dollars, he'd have to pay federal income tax on at least $500,000 (about $125,000 of tax?), social security and medicare tax (another $15,000+ $30,000=$45,000), and I'll guess 10% with-no-deductions California income tax ($100,000). Adding all that up, if he gives back 90% of his high salary, he would be turning $270,000 of people's donations into government revenue (He'd be in the red, of course--- so if he wants to keep $100,000 to spend after donations and taxes, he'd only be able to give away $630,000).
Another important point is that it seems his church salary is secret. There's no excuse for that for anybody in a church, celebrity or not.

This article looks good, tho I haven't read it yet. He makes the point that US law permitting churches, unlike other nonprofits, to keep their finances secret implies that we should see lots of malfeasance in churches, human nature being what it is. We're all better when we're watched.

John Montague,The Law and Financial Transparency in Churches: Reconsidering the Form 990 Exemption, 35 Cardozo Law Review 203 (2013).
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/nonprofit/2013/12/montague-the-law-and-...

Adam,
I hope you'll listen to Jared's kind rebuke. Please allow me to also clarify things a bit. You provided no arguments, and have received no counterarguments. You asserted (not argued) that MacArthur's market penetration (yes, my words) warrants his multiple revenue streams which combine to an excess of what 99+% households bring in annually (including business owners).

Further, your "case" also consisted of mention that you have three degrees, including an M.Div, and that you're a thoughtful Christian; all of which somehow relieves you of any responsibility in producing a case against the pastors here beyond merely asserting the dishonesty you perceive...that's convenient. Must be in the small print of the 9th commandment.

Joseph didn't redirect the conversation, either. He helped commoners (like myself) grasp the enormity of MacArthur's income. I wonder if MacArthur's associates have shown kindness by providing warning about such wealth? The problem is, some of his associates rely on such monetary success of a, by now, multi-multimillionaire. After all, they stand to benefit from him. Add to that the other men he professionally associates with; each is careful to preserve the name (brand) of the other through forewords, blurbs/reviews/promos on their books, appearances on stage, video commendations, and the list goes on.

Dear Adam,

We don't allow minced oaths, so I removed yours. Also, please identify yourself, both first and last name. When you're criticizing a man in public, you should not hide. House rules.

Thank you for your criticism. It did good work in me.

Love,

John Piper wrote a helpful article on a similar topic concerning John Wesley. He says that Wesley famously stated, "Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can." Piper goes on to say, "In 1731 he began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. In the first year his income was 30 pounds and he found he could live on 28 and so gave away two. In the second year his income doubled but he held his expenses even, and so he had 32 pounds to give away (a comfortable year's income). In the third year his income jumped to 90 pounds and he gave away 62 pounds. In his long life Wesley's income advanced to as high as 1,400 pounds in a year. But he rarely let his expenses rise above 30 pounds. He said that he seldom had more than 100 pounds in his possession at a time."

1,400 pounds was a whole lot to make in one year in Wesley's day. According to this source, that would easily be over a million pounds (http://measuringworth.com/calculators/ppoweruk). I recommend Piper's article. John MacArthur has served us well over the years. He is one of the more faithful pastors in our country. Many of us, if we stand at all stand on his shoulders. How does Dr. MacArthur spend his money? Was that posted?

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/happy-birthday-john-wesley-two-sil...

It is difficult to say exactly what the real value of £1400 in 1731 would be worth today. But most calculators have it coming in around $190,000 to 300,000 today. So... even more than Wesley.

Dear Michael (Granger),

Even better than reading John Piper is to be like him, something I would recommend to everyone, including you and John MacArthur.

-Joseph

A few thoughts on this topic.

First, there's the question of being an ambassador for Christ. As 1 Timothy 5:14 teaches, we should give the adversary no opportunity for slander. Do we want the gospel ministry to be a thing that attracts men because it can make you a millionaire? When we preach a gospel of sacrifice and facing persecution in the modern age while putting up our speakers in a five-star hotel, what does that say to the outsider looking in about our sincerity? Does it give the adversary occasion for slander? I think so.

Second, it's also quite easy for us to oppose these men and their earnings out of our own personal envy. When my wife and I were dating a couple of years ago, I was walking with my father-in-law, a godly man and a pastor, and I asked him why he and his wife decided to home school. He answered, and then said, well, you know, you don't have to be rich, we were only making X dollars a year when we started doing it. This was only 20 years ago, so inflation statistics still have some meaning. I googled them, and realized that "only X dollars a year" was about 150% of my annual salary. I used this kernel sinfully to fan a great deal of envy in my heart, and this taught me that as much as I am on board with the idea that a pastor millionaire should be an oxymoron, it's very easy for those of us who do make five figures a year with the first number not being 7, 8, or 9 to use self-righteousness over these figures as a mask for our own envy, and that is hypocritical and worldly.

Third, I think that up the thread, it got nailed when Joseph--I think--mentioned that this is donated money. We are talking about the widow's mite here, in some sense. A few years ago, we had a reformed rock star come speak at our church's spiritual life conference, and as I left the service on Sunday I saw one of the ladies of the church waiting by said luminary's vehicle with a lunch for them to take as they drove (the luminary lived two states over). It was a white Cadillac SUV with gold trim, and while I don't think that means very much, it was hard not to contrast it with the 20-year old used Toyota our pastor's wife (and our pastor was also a reformed rock star) drove. I kept thinking, there are people who buy your books who don't have a lot of money.

And fourthly, the point about hating your own pastor is well taken. It's so easy in the reformed church to have your "minister" be the writings and blogs of somebody better known, and not the pastor in your pulpit. At this same conference, one of the greatest moments was when the pastor mentioned in the full to overflowing sanctuary that the esteemed guest would be preaching on the Lord's day, and invited all of those present to attend. He then pointedly said, unless you live in this town, in which case please worship at your own church and sit under the teaching of your own pastor.

Sorry it's a bit rambling. This has been a very helpful discussion to read.

Dear Adam,

I must admit I took some glee in trying to make you look like an idiot. Please forgive me.

However, as I went back to try again, the thrust of my arguments remained much the same. You wrote:

Well, a worker being worthy of his wages and all, I dare say that MacArthur's ministry has been an enduring labor that has reached a substantially greater audience than most complaining reformed pastors.

Unless I'm an idiot, your claim here is most assuredly that he deserves to be paid $33,500 per month just from GTY. Your supporting evidence for that claim is that he has a large audience and that it has produced good fruit over a long period of time. However, whether a man is worthy of his wages has very little to do with how large his audience is, or we would not pay a decent salary to missionaries to small tribes in Africa. Regarding the enduring nature of our work, it will indeed be tested by fire to see what remains, and I pray that not all of mine will burn up. It is precisely because we desire to see MacArthur's work endure that we warn against the corruption of money inherent in the celebrity culture.

As well, if he is putting that money towards good causes in other arenas, or leaving the proverbial inheritance to his children and grandchildren, I'd say he's doing much better with it than many wealthy,

Comparing John MacArthur to godless, wicked men and saying he's "doing much better" does not justify him, least of all when you are simply speculating on how he compares. This is something that men love to do when justifying wrong actions. However, God doesn't compare us to other men but to his own perfection of which we all fall far short. Comparative holiness is simply wickedness by another name.

Besides, you're begging the question by saying that he might do good stuff with the money after he has it. The question is, should he take so much for pay from the ministry he runs in the first place? This is not money from a good position in a Fortune 500 company that he can then give to the ministry. This is money that the ministry already has that he then takes for himself.

and we ought not be so concerned with the business of another's house than that of our own.

If you truly meant this to be a warning to both us and yourself, then I won't argue. However, given the tenor of the rest of your comment, particularly your snide reference to "complaining reformed pastors" with no "audience" or "enduring labor" worth speaking of, I interpreted this to be a further attack on us, disingenuously framed in the first-person plural. 

All told, I don't see how I've abused your arguments. In fact, I'm afraid the real problem is that I took your argument a good bit more seriously than you wish I had, and now you're rather embarrassed by what you wrote.

-Joseph

 

Pastor MacArthur is a great man. I like his books more than pretty much any Christian celebrity author I can think of. He has done more to advance the kingdom of God than any of us.

But being a great man does not mean he is a good man, or even one of the Elect. We are all sinners, and God's kingdom would continue to be advanced by Pastor MacArthur's books even if he turned apostate. (Didn't that happen with Origen?) He probably is godly, but we're not on his board of elders or presbytery, or whoever his spiritual advisors are, so he could be an alcoholic or embezzler for all we know. Even Roman Catholics don't think they can tell without a lengthy and bureaucratic investigation who has advanced to such a state of perfection that he is a saint, who has been able to skip purgatory.
Given that, we should be concerned not about whether Pastor MacArthur has earned his income but why he asks for that much money. Really it's his elders and presbytery who should be concerned, but we should be concerned that they seem not to care. If you care about Pastor MacArthur spiritual state because (a) you care about him as a person, and/or (b) you care about whether he will continue to do good work, you should worry about that high income.
There's one exception, an unpleasant one. If we think that he truly is a greedy man, who only writes books, etc. for money, and we don't care about his soul, then we should want the money to keep rolling in, because otherwise he'd switch to a more lucrative job. But I don't think anybody believes that.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine was riding the bus in a blizzard in Our Fair City of Indianapolis when a poor woman (let's call her "Tanya"), who was not dressed for the weather, asked him for $5. He gave it to her, and then she asked for more. At this point, rather than giving her more money, he engaged her in conversation and found out that she is schizophrenic, a (possibly recovering?) drug addict, former prostitute, mother of 8 children (all in foster care), currently homeless, and has been in-and-out of jail/prison fairly regularly for the last decade. Much later she confessed to him that most of the money that she pan-handled she would spend to get cocaine.

It is common fare for well-to-do Reformed suburbanite Christians to justify our miserly closed-fistedness to women like Tanya specifically because we suspect that she's just going to spend it on drugs. We never actually bother finding out if that's the case, but in about half a second we can convince ourselves "she's an addict," and move on, secure in the conviction that our miserliness is her blessing, because it separates her from the the thing that's enslaving her--cocaine. (I know this because I regularly travel through a part of Indianapolis with lots of panhandlers, and I execute that exact analysis frequently).

Now, how many of the same well-to-do Reformed suburbanite Christians eagerly give $5, or $50, or $500 to [fill-in-the-blank ministry] without exercising the slightest analysis as to whether their charitable donation possibly, theoretically, might be used to fund someone's cocaine habit?

Well, an executive of a Christian non-profit wouldn't have a cocaine habit.

Yeah, a cocaine habit wouldn't be respectable in the Christian community. But how about a golfing habit? Or a yachting habit? Or a lake-house habit?

Is bondage to greed and money really that different from bondage to cocaine? If we really do care about how our charity will be spent--so much so that we harden our hearts to the pan-handler freezing in the blizzard, because she might be a crack head, and we don't want our hard-earned wages spent on crack!--shouldn't we exercise the same discernment toward Christian rock stars? Either we have principles about how our donated money is spent, or we don't. An inconsistency indicates that some other principle is at work--perhaps despising the poor and showing preference to the rich?

Making accusations without providing the person an opportunity to respond is highly problematic. I'm also a little uncomfortable with probing around in what I would consider private information without a reason. Yes, I know its public record, but still, seems highly invasive.

You don't know the full terms of MacArthur's arrangements with any of these institutions. There are a number of reasons why his compensation may have had a significant one year bump without necessarily indicating that these are new arrangements for him, let alone that he demanded them. For example, he might have had a deferred compensation-like arrangement while ministries were going through a rough-patch (keeping in mind the economic downturn), getting their legs under them, etc. Take less salary in 2008, 2009, 2010, and when things turn around, pay the difference from what he would have gotten. Not saying that's what did happen, the bottom line is, we don't know his terms.

Secondly, as someone else has mentioned, you don't know what he is doing with his money from a charitable perspective. He could be giving it all away, returning it back to the ministries, starting new ministries, who knows?

Thirdly, he does live in California, which I think most of us know has a much higher standard of living than in say, Indiana, or Ohio. Probably by a a factor of 2-3 or so, meaning that divide MacArthur's compensation by 2 to get an idea of what that means locally. High, but not as dramatic as you have laid it out.

Finally, and probably most importantly, you call this compensation "reprehensible", others throw the "greed" word around, indicating a belief that somehow sin is involved in this. If MacArthur's compensation offends anyone on this blog, have they approached as in Matthew 18? Are you making an accusation of sin without the benefit of two accusers (1 Tim 5:19)? Have you all the facts before making the accusations?

This particular post and several of the comments come very close to slander, gossip, and backbiting. Ephesians 4:25-32.

Michael,

For a keep-your-eye-on-the-ball moment, I'll point out that the scrutiny into Pastor MacArthur's finances on this blog began when it became public that a TNIV John MacArthur study Bible would be published. If you're not familiar with it, the TNIV is "The Not Inspired Version," AKA "Gender-Neutral," AKA "Gender-Neutered," AKA "Abridged," AKA "Bowdlerized" version of the Bible. Where the Holy Spirit inspired the word "man," the TNIV has changed it to "human," or "person"; where the Holy Spirit inspired the word "brother," the TNIV has changed it to "Christian friend"; where the Holy Spirit inspired the word "Jews," the TNIV has changed it to "Jewish leaders"; and so on, and so on. These changes have obviously been made in service to the god of American progressivism. There is no ambiguity in the original Greek and Hebrew; had there been real ambiguity, we have precedent for how to handle it. Take the word "Selah," which appears throughout the Psalms. If the translator hasn't a clue how to translate the word, then just leave it as it is.

Why would Pastor MacArthur give his stamp of approval to the bowdlerization of God's Word? Short of his public confession, we can't really know the reason. But an astute observer might suspect that this book deal with the TNIV was made for the sake of financial gain. And when the public records pertaining to Pr. MacArthur's finances are examined, it is not a pretty picture that emerges.

As to Matthew 18: It is obviously not an algorithm intended to be executed robotically. Are any other commands of Scripture robotic algorithms? Of course not. God gives wisdom for exactly such situations. Public sins must be dealt with publicly. The public solicitation of donations to a charity that then pays its head lavish, exorbitant sums is a public matter, and therefore must be dealt with publicly.

I'm very familiar with the TNIV, and am no fan of it. I'm disappointed that MacArthur's study bible is going forward in that translation. That being said, you don't know the contractual relationship with Zondervan and what say MacArthur has with them. You are assuming that he did it for the money, when in reality, Zondervan might have full editorial control on the Bible translation - just like Zondervan can't modify the study notes, perhaps MacArthur has no say in the NIV Bible translation.

But just because one doesn't agree with MacArthur's arrangements with Zondervan (I believe), doesn't justify piling on with other speculations. I was speaking to THIS post, with what I perceived to be accusations without full information. Pulling down public information on someone, and then labeling it as sin without their side of the story is, in my opinion, dangerously close to gossip and slander.

John MacArthur didn't get where he is being stupid about contracts he signs. You can't seriously believe he would sign one without any say on which translation was used. And, in fact, if you check the coverage of the issue elsewhere on this blog, you will find your speculation about translations is very much not the case.

I am not interested in discussing the translation issue - it is a red herring and irrelevant with regards to the content and comments of THIS post.

THIS post deals with John MacArthur's income. THIS post states that his income is reprehensible. Postings here accuse MacArthur of greed, pursuit of filthy lucre, and the like. All of which is built on pulling down a 990 report. Everything else is speculation.

My speculation about the arrangements between Zondervan and MacArthur only was to make the point that we do not know what these arrangements are.

Back to this post, with all the criticism around MacArthur's income, surely there must be a sin that can be named. So name it. What is the specific sin that MacArthur is guilty of with regards to the information contained on that 990 report? Name it. If you can't or are unwilling to, the church would be better off if you would just remain silent. Period.

Dear Mr. McCarthy,

One shudders to think what things would look like before you would be willing to admit that a warning against the love of money was appropriate. 

-Joseph

You must know something that I don't to indicate that there's a love of money demonstrated here. Note that I'm not saying that he doesn't have a love of money, just that the information is incomplete and we should not speculate. All I have seen is the 990 - I have seen nothing to tell me what MacArthur does with his money.

If he gives it all away, is he guilty of a love of money? I would say not, but perhaps you would disagree.

Also, I don't believe speculating on an open blog is an appropriate way to handle the matter. This should be handled in a more biblical manner and in love - especially for someone in pastoral ministry.

 Dear Mr. McCarthy,

First let me address your last paragraph. This sort of silliness really must stop. Don't you realize that what you have been doing is criticizing pastors and accusing them of sin on a public blog? I don't object to you criticizing us publicly. I do object to you criticizing us publicly because we criticized somebody else publicly. Let's keep the comments on topic, please, like your first two paragraphs. 

Actually, you've seen more than a 990. You've seen what MacArthur chooses to do with the money of two of the organizations he runs. For example, he chooses to take over $400,000 (i.e. 2.5%) of the donations that GTY receives for himself. 

Is there any particular observable action that would cause you to think that a warning against the love of money was proper, or is the love of money something that only God can see and warn against?

-Joseph

Red herring or not, you brought it up, Mr. McCarthy.

http://youtu.be/7xwaLzuzg8Y

I've tried to be careful of NOT accusing of sin - I've said it approaches gossip and slander, and the more general, if you make accusations without full facts then I do believe it to be gossip and slander.

Perhaps you and the others have meant it to be a warning against a love of money - which we should always be mindful of. But I think this blog may have crossed a line of stating that merely by looking at MacArthur's salary is sufficient evidence to accuse him of sin and other unflattering criticisms and remarks. In my denomination (OPC), it would not be sufficient without more evidence / information, as I've tried to outline.

Do I think the salary is high? Of course. Is it a cause for concern? Perhaps - certainly clarifying questions are worth asking. Is it sin? Can't say without answers to those clarifying questions.

Accusing a pastor of sin is a very serious matter, and if you do believe I have done so here, then I apologize, I did try to be careful. I also apologize if you think this is just being silly. But, to your point, I believe this post and the related comments, might be unfair to MacArthur.

Also, just in conclusion - I am not a MacArthur zealot or anything like that. It has nothing to do with the man himself - I seldom listen to him or read his books.

I do seriously want to know the answer to this question: 

Is there any particular observable action that would cause you to think that a warning against the love of money was proper, or is the love of money something that only God can see and warn against?

Warmly,

-Joseph

I should have added - let's just agree to disagree on this point. I don't think further debate will change anyone's mind on this.

I would tend to think of that in church discipline categories, since we're talking about sin here. As I said, a general warning against the love of money is worth hearing for all of us.

Observable behavior worthy of a warning would most likely need to come from those with closer relationship to MacArthur than I certainly have. If I saw an individual demanding unreasonable increases (which we don't know if MacArthur "demanded" these increases or what the compensation discussions have been). If I saw hoarding of cash when there were needs within the church. If I saw an inordinate amount of time spent on investments and cash management related activities to the exclusion of family and church. Those would be the things I might look at. I don't think the 990s by themselves communicate MacArthur's attitudes towards money.

Also should have added that I would not give the admonishment or warning, without speaking to the person directly to ensure I was understanding the situation properly.

I know a young pastor in the CHurch of England who says that his compensation is called a "living" because it's supposed to pay for his living, and so he doesn't accept anything extra for weddings, funerals, etc. I don't know if that's the correct thing to do, but I do admire his attitude. Certainly, I can't think of a good reason for a pastor to set up two charities and then have them pay him $500,000 out of their donations, when he already is earning a healthy amount from book royalties and salary. I doubt very much that honest rich businessmen set up charities and then charge the charities $500,000 for helping them.
It is a shame that US tax law doesn't require churches to disclose the pay of the top three employees, which is required for other nonprofits and for publicly traded corporations. The secrecy allowed to churches creates a powerful temptation for successful pastors.

I just thought of something related: the monetary compensation of elders and deacons. Why is it zero? Some elders may have no other job or means of support, and I know that some must be hard-pressed enough that spending time on their duties definitely means their families can't buy things they'd buy otherwise.
A somewhat different case, closer to Pastor Macarthur's, is that of the elder who is wealthy--- so good at making money, in fact, that that market value of the time he spends as an elder might be $50,000/year. Should the church pay him that much, even if his advice is worth even more than that to the church? I suppose the church should be willing to, but we would not admire an elder who took the church up on its offer.

Joseph,

I do have to agree with Michael that it's fine to mention a warning regarding the love of money, however, calling it "reprehensible" without further details is making a serious judgement about MacArthur, his character, his life's ministry, etc. He's been involved in a lot of faithful service for the Lord and I personally would feel cautious about leaping to conclusions without further facts. The Scriptural principle is "Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses" 1Tim. 5:19 - and you currently don't even have one witness of sin.

His salary for being the President of Masters College doesn't appear excessive, nor does your estimated of his salary for a 10,000 person church (though, who knows if he even takes a salary?). And as for royalties, book sales, and speaker fees, what is he supposed to do, turn them down? His salary from gty does appear excessive, but it's probably been assessed according to some industry standard for non-profits. Now maybe that method of assessing salaries lacks discernment, but it's not alone a conclusive indication that everyone at gty is involved in gross sin. I actually suspect that anyone in his position, reaching tens of thousands of people each day through written, audio and visual media, would have a hard time keeping his salary low.

Dear Brothers,

I've responded to the questions/challenges of several of you in a new post titled, "Post on John MacArthur's money: answering objections...".

Love,

So John MacArthur got paid a half million dollars in 2011.

That's all you know, so that's all the facts we all have to go on (the rest is sheer guessing).

Does John MacArthur choose his salary or does the board of elders/directors set it for him? We don't know.

What does he do with the money? We don't know.

Does the Bible lay down any sort of financial parameters for a business or non-profit that desires to be generous to their president? Nope.

This whole thing seems to boil down to some fellas online getting angry (based on almost no information whatsoever) that someone in another part of the country is not following their own rules of what's "righteous conduct".

It's a shame that this is my introduction to the Bayly Blog.

Why assume greed and filthy lucre? Why not assume that an organization out there is trying to obey 1 Timothy 5:17 and show double honor to their leader?

Dear Mr. Unger,

If the information of John MacArthur's 990s leaves Christians feeling there's no smoke, let alone fire, that's fine. Others of us think differently. To attribute it to anger is a reasonable speculation, but wrong. I've spoken well of John MacArthur my whole life.

Love,