Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why Are So Many Pastors Paid Salaries?

This is a question I had to wrestle with when I was a professional pastor. I resigned because I came to the conclusion that the bible does not support the practice of pastors receiving salaries. Why, then, do so many churches continue this practice? (This question comes from my prior post Sorry, But I Can't Stop Asking Questions).

Five reasons stand out to me as to why this keeps happening:

1. Church history. Roman Catholic priests received payment of various sorts. The Reformers kept this practice, as they did many other Roman aspects of church life.

2. Misinterpretation of scripture. Nowhere in the New Testament is it said that pastors should receive regular salaries. The I Corinthians 9 passage refers to traveling evangelists, not pastors. As for I Timothy 5, "double honor" may or may not be talking about money. However, if it is then it's referring to love gifts after the fact as opposed to salaries given beforehand.

3. People think they need an "expert." The folks in the pews want a person to come in from the outside who has attended seminary. He's given a salary to preach, administer, and coordinate the worship ceremonies.

4. Pastors like it. I can say from experience that it is nice to receive a paycheck for studying the bible and reading theological books much of the time. Why would pastors ever speak against this? Instead, what they do is perpetuate it.

5. "It's what we've always done." Churches have been paying salaries to pastors for so long that many people cannot imagine any alternative.

The above five reasons are not exhaustive. Churches have their combination of reasons for handing out salaries to pastors. The big problem is that they have no scriptural support for doing so.


Kevin said...

I did a lot of reading on the 1 Timothy 5 passage, and have been mulling over a blog post about it. But here's a slice:

1 Timothy 5:17-18 seems to be a stronger case (compared to Galatians 6:6) for paid ministry: "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,' and, 'The laborer deserves his wages.'" It is clearly speaking of elders, and many Protestant churches classify vocational pastors and ministers as elders. The word honor is used in verse 3, and seems to refer to providing for widows with no family to provide for them. The Greek word translated honor can also mean "value" or "price."

The 1 Timothy passage is unique, without support from other passages that describe first century elders (presbuteros) or that prescribe the qualifications for such. For this reason, I think it is not a good foundation on which to build as prominent a tradition as the church has built. In addition, the passage that precedes it specifically commands not to support widows under the age of 60 (that is, who are marriageable) or who have family (other means of support). Presbuteros is often used in the New Testament to refer to the office of elder (as in James 5:14), but in verse 1 of this chapter, the word is translated "an older man." These verses may be referring to elderly men - men who have exemplified a godly life and provide leadership to the body - with priority given to those who continue to teach and preach, even when they are not capable of the physical labor they did as younger men. When considered in light of the New Testament view of the church as a family, this interpretation seems even more likely. Families support their elderly members who can no longer work to support themselves, and the sharp-minded elderly provide practical and spiritual guidance to the younger family members.

Timothy may also have been dealing with a general problem of disregard for the elderly. The chapter opens “Do not [sharply] rebuke an older man [elder] but encourage [or exhort, the same word used of Jairus pleading with Jesus to heal his daughter] him as you would a father.” And in verses 19-20, Paul instructs Timothy not to listen to accusations against older men unless (at least) two or three witnesses corroborated. Younger members of the body may have viewed the elderly as burdens rather than valuable gifts from the Lord to provide leadership for the church.

Neil Braithwaite said...

Eric - I appreciate your post on paid pastors and agree with all you wrote. The problem most people have with paid pastors is that they don't have any true concern with the idea of paying someone to do what they consider a "job." And more specifically, they have never known any other way to "do church" than having a building and a full-time person to oversee the "church" and be there on Sunday mornings to preach a sermon. So making several points on why pastors should not be paid a salary doesn't really do enough to spark their interest to study the issue any further. As far as they are concerned, you've made your point and they'll stick with what's more comfortable and familiar.

Kevin - If you are interested in a very exhaustive study (Including 1 Timothy 5) on "paid" pastors you can read my post - "The Apostle Paul on Personal Rights and the Gospel" at:

Tim A said...

6. We are wealthy and can affort it. Poorer cultures have to do without because they can't afford it. If they try it, the preacher will mostly starve.
7. Tradition has defined "preach the word" as lecture the word for 30-45 minutes every week by only one man or you you won't be "fed" the Word and will starve in your faith. It takes 2 - 3 days work to do a good job on preparing this lecture so that means you have to pay someone so he doesn't get distracted from that while he works in the marketplace. When "preach the word" is released from bondage to this narrow and bogus definition, there will be no need to pay one man. Then many scriptures will come to life that actually teach God's people to be prepared to speak the truth to one another when they gather so that each member is "built up" or "fed". Currently all these texts are reserved for optional meetings with a second fiddle status attached to them.

Vascularity777 said...

Neil, what denomination do you affiliate yourself with?

Neil Braithwaite said...

Vascularity777 - I'm not affiliated with any denomination or independent "church." By the words of Jesus and His Apostles I consider myself a child of God and a part of Christ's ekklesia - or as Paul calls it - Christ's bride and/or the body of Christ.

How about yourself?

Vascularity777 said...


I guess I consider myself as you do; not part of any official denomination. My last attempt at institutional church attendance was at a non-denominational church. I found the attendees to present as extremely morally superior and the leadership less than genuine. I was seeking christian friends. I enjoy participating in intelligent conversations about matters that are important to me, such as faith in Christ. The folks there put the "lead" pastor on a pedestal and many just could not understand that sincere Christians continue to commit sin. No iron sharpening iron there for me. I'd rather not go into full detail about my specific experiences.

I read a bit of your blog, From the little I read I can see that you and I have a bit in common, along with Eric Carpenter. We question everything. I have always been one to not blindly agree with anybody. I very much like to hear differing perspectives, especially from others that I respect. I enjoy a healthy verbal exchange when I disagree with somebody, as long as the person is being sincere and well intentioned.

In your writing you indicated that you do not agree with the Trinity doctrine. When I read that my mental red flag flared up. I wondered if you are a Jehovah's Witness. A few years back I had a few neighbors who were JW. I disagree with much of their "religion". Hence my inquiry of your denominational preference. I plan to read more of that blog. Are you the only author there.

Neil Braithwaite said...

Vascularity777 - I wrote several of the blogs. If they are re-posts from other authors I make sure to get permission before posting on my blog and always give the author credit.

I had no clue about Jehovah's Witness' stance on the trinity doctrine until I began to question it and research for myself. There are many thousands of Christians just now starting to ask questions about the trinity doctrine; like where it came from and why most churches place it as #1 or #2 on their doctrine statements.

If you still believe in the trinity I challenge you to check out the links on my blog that deal with it specifically. The history alone will shock you. But when you begin to study the scriptures in light of the Old Testament definition of who God is and who Jesus said God is you will come to the same revelation that Peter came to when Jesus asked the 12 who they said he was - "You are the Christ, the son of the living God."

I am currently working on a study that looks at the trinity from a logical and reasonable angle. While I use scripture to make my case, the study centers on all the questions that necessarily become relevant when Jesus is viewed as fully God and fully man. Like how can Jesus be tempted if he is God and God can't be tempted? Or who died on the cross if God cannot die? Or why would Jesus have to "grow" in stature or learn anything? Or why does the OT prophesy that there will come a time in Jesus young life that he will choose good over evil? Simply put, when Jesus is seen as the only begotten (born of a woman)son of God who is fully human and fully devoted to his Father's will, all those questions fade into nothing and God is glorified through His son.

I walked blind for over 30 years as I allowed pastors and other people tell me what to believe. Never again!

I have had more revelation of truth since I left man's church and accepted my place as part of Christ's Ekklesia than I had before in my 30+ years as a baptized believer in Christ Jesus. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth; and I have found out that Jesus' words are in true.

But I will tell you this; you have never been attacked by Satan like the way you will when you give everything to Christ and follow only him and his God and our God. When you expose God's truth and it tears at the foundation of man's church you will see a side of some Christians you wouldn't think possible.

In Mark 12 Jesus answered when asked what the greatest command was with these words - the Shema:

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE."

Jesus also said:

"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." John 17:3

Paul said this about who Jesus and God were:

"For there is ONE God, and ONE mediator also between God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time." 1 Timothy 2:5-6

Vascularity777 said...

@ Neil:

"There are many thousands of Christians just now starting to ask questions about the trinity doctrine"

This statement reminds me of the advent of the printing press. Finally at that time the bible was massed produced so many would be able to read it for themselves. I attribute the fall of the monopoly of the catholic church more due to the printing press than Martin Luther. Speaking of Martin Luther, I find him to be such a mystery. From the little I read about him, it seems that he was correct about much early in his life, then as he aged he became outright anti-Christ. For example when he was younger he indicated that Jews should be treated well so they would see the love of Christians, but later in his life he indicated that Jews should be tortured and exterminated. To my amazement, many Protestants seem to not only put this guy on a pedestal, but also seem to partially worship him.

"I am currently working on a study that looks at the trinity from a logical and reasonable angle."

Will you post this study on your blog?

"Or why does the OT prophesy that there will come a time in Jesus young life that he will choose good over evil?"

Where is this in the Old Testament?

Neil Braithwaite said...

@ Vascularity777 -

First, I want to thank Eric for allowing this discussion on his blog. Thank you Eric.

Yes, I plan to post that study in the next month or so.

As for my question: "Or why does the OT prophesy that there will come a time in Jesus young life that he will choose good over evil?" It's interesting that you ask "where is this in the OT?" This is a passage of prophesy specifically about Jesus' virgin birth and insight into his "growing-up." Trinitarians don't like to admit that Jesus grew up just like every other person born since Adam and Eve began having children, and that at a specific point in Jesus' life (Notice the historical time reference), he decided to follow his Father's every command and choose good over evil. They also can't explain how it is logical for Jesus, who, if he is "eternally" fully God and co-equal with God as they contend, would have to make a conscious choice to "choose" between good and evil. Logically speaking, it is impossible for God (And His co-God) to have to make this choice because He has eternally been "good" and there has never been any evil in Him. It's also illogical to believe that God has to "grow up" in any aspect - be it physically or intellectually.

The trinity doctrine spawns dozens of these kind of questions that would not even be asked if Jesus is allowed to just be the "human" Messiah that he was born to be.

You will also notice that Jesus performed no miracles until AFTER God sent His Holy Spirit upon him. He had obviously reached a maturity level that God had determined would be the perfect time to send His Spirit upon Jesus. I discuss this in detail in my forthcoming study.

Here is the prophesy about the "young" Jesus from Isaiah 7:

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The VIRGIN WILL CONCEIVE AND GIVE BIRTH TO A SON, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he KNOWS ENOUGH to REJECT THE WRONG AND CHOOSE THE RIGHT, 16 for before the BOY knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.

Vascularity777 said...

Eric, I also thank you for permitting this discussion on your blog.

@ Neil:

Your points are logical and hard to dispute. I have a couple of questions.

1. In the bible doesn't it read that we worship Jesus Christ? So if we worship Jesus, then that seems to be evidence that the Trinity is correct, for why would we be instructed to worship any other than our Creator?

2. At the end of Isaiah 13, what does it mean, "the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste"? Why is this segment of passage 13 placed just after this prophecy of Jesus?

Years ago I studied my bible frequently, but in recent years I haven't. I have reasons to verbalize for this, but I'm really without excuse.

As far as feelings go, it is kinda frightening to consider the Trinity doctrine to be incorrect. I'll assume this makes sense to you.

Whether or not the Trinity doctrine is correct, Father God, Yahweh, informed us that all authority in Earth and Heaven and under the Earth has been given to Jesus Christ, or am I wrong?

Neil Braithwaite said...

@ Vascularity777 -

"Worship" can and is defined in many different ways depending on it's proper translation and its context within any given passage. It's actually a very good question and also one which the space on this comment thread won't allow a proper answer. I would advise that you check out this link for a more complete study of worship.

The prophesy made about a young Jesus' choice between good and evil is followed by what I would call a "qualifier" prophesy. In this case the land of the two kings you dread being laid waste is the historical qualifier that must happen before young Jesus makes his choice between good and evil. Reading Isiah 7:1f gives an idea of the two kings. Understand that this event must have already happened and could have happened long before Jesus was even born. Most good bible commentaries will address this prophesy and give pretty solid answers.

However,the main point to take away from this prophesy about the young Jesus is that he could not possibly have been God and also had to make a decision between good and evil.

Jesus' full humanity shows in that he had a separate "will" from his Father/God. While he only acted on his Fathers will, this prophesy, along with Jesus' prayer in the garden before his crucifixion (Not my will be done, but Yours), reminds us of his humanity. It's a beautiful thing to be able to know that Jesus can relate to us
in our humanity. It makes Jesus the personal savior God meant him to be. Otherwise, those who see Jesus as God must attribute everything he did to his being God.

A good friend of mine sums it up this way:

"I have come to see how this doctrine dishonors Jesus in several ways. For example, it dishonors him by implying that the Shema recognizes God as a three-person-God; even though Jesus, being a Jew under the Law, would have only interpreted the Shema to refer to the one God of Israel and not a multiple variation of essence consisting of three separate persons. The Trinity doctrine also dishonors Him by slighting what the man Jesus accomplished for us since nothing he did would be difficult for God. In other words, his humanity was no more than incidental baggage, with every good thing Jesus did ascribed to the notion that he is God."

The frighting part for me was coming to grips with my believing the trinity for so long and never giving it a second thought.

Keep on praying and do not fear the truth.

Eric said...


I'm glad to allow this discussion to continue on this blog. While I may disagree with the things said (or not), I still think we need to have places for open, respectful dialogue. Sadly, those places seem to be disappearing in our society.

Tim A said...

Neil, I think your questions about Jesus deity are obscure and insignificant in light of the astromomical amount of direct and clear revelation of the deity of Jesus and his place in the godhead. Your assertion creates massive congradictions throughout the Bible. I have given the trinity a second thought and it's worth sticking with. There is no substantive basis to question one being with three persons. Continuously appealing to logic on issues that are not illogical with revelation as a foundation for truth and logic is not logical in itself. Was it not the devil himself who first asked "Has God said..."? It sounds like you are asking in the same way "Has God said Jesus is God?" If you don't plan on worshiping Jesus as God in his physical presence for eternity, there is only one other location for people and you don't want to be there. You have a limited amount of time to get squared away on the full truth of Jesus. This is a warning.

Neil Braithwaite said...

@ Tim A -

You obviously didn't give the trinity much of a "second thought."

Your defend a doctrine that was implemented more than 300 years after Christ and his Apostles were gone from this earth by self-appointed Bishops under the direction of a pagan worshiping Roman emperor who had every reason to want to assign deity to the leader and founder of his new "State" religion. A doctrine of which every term used to describe it today can't be found in either the OT or NT.

To the contrary of your assertion; assigning deity to Jesus is what has created massive confusion and contradictions.

I'll just leave it at this: I'll play it safe and put my eternal life on the line by asserting that Jesus the man was the Christ, the son of the living God and that no one comes to the Father but by him. I'll not assign him deity and will worship the one true God that Jesus also worshiped - and let the chips fall where they may. But you go ahead and make Jesus God and use your convoluted explanations to satisfy your reasoning and take the chance of being seen by God as worshiping "another" god.

It's really sad that Christianity is the only religion that begins by discarding their own founder's creed! (The Shema)

“What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is ONE (heis: the primary number 1 - you can't get more one that that) Lord;"

Jesus follows-up reciting the Shema with a question - asking them specifically about Psalm 110:1 - While the crowd enjoyed listening to Jesus, the scribes had no answer. *The ANSWER is found in Acts 2 and Hebrews 5. Jesus BECAME lord of all creation - to judge of living and dead. This is how Jesus BECAME David's lord! A "pre-existent" Jesus is not and can not be David's descendant - son.

"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the ONLY (monos: one, alone, solitary) true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

"For there is ONE God, and ONE mediator also between God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time."

I'm really content and confident with my beliefs, and I hope you're confident with yours.

Neil Braithwaite said...

A couple of simple questions for all who believe in the Trinity doctrine:

Since Jesus affirmed the Shema in Mark 12:29 as the #1 greatest command of God, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord...," and then had a Jewish scribe agree with him saying, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him...," was Jesus not obviously in line with the Jewish orthodox, non-Trinitarian view of God? Or did the Shema present a Trinitarian creed?

"When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently (wisely), He said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.'" Here Jesus clearly reiterates his position regarding the Shema.

But wouldn't this have been a perfect place for Jesus to tell the Jewish scribe, and all who were listening, that he was in fact THE God of the Shema?

What's your guess of what would have happened to Jesus had he said that?

Tim A said...

It is foolish to "guess" at what Jesus may have said or could have said but did not say. It is foolish to use this a a basis to deny what is clearly stated in many places and in many ways from many different angles. You trash them all for your hypthetical question. Jesus said "I and my father are one." What is not clear about that? Two persons in one being is no problem for God and should be no problem for us with this revelation. Our only problem is our unbelief. This in no way undercuts the shema. It gives greater revelation to the shema for the progressive revelation of the nature of God in his unfolding plan for all nations. I don't think you realize how much scripture you must ignore with your rejection of a triune God. You cling to stawman arguments suggesting trinity means three Gods. There are millions of people around the world that would use that argument and none of them place their faith in Jesus.

Neil Braithwaite said...

@ Tim A -

Unfortunately you read your trinity doctrine into the scriptures to try and prove your points. You need to set aside everything you've ever been taught about the trinity and take an unbiased look at the scriptures and the facts of history and logic. And always remember - God is not a God of confusion.

"I and the Father are one" is a classic case of not understanding the context of what Jesus was saying. Jesus was not saying he was God, rather he was saying I and the Father are of one purpose.

Two "persons" in one being would be no problem for God except for the fact that God said He is not a man and can never be a man! (Numbers 23:19)

Jesus was a man. (Romans 5:15) Jesus was born, ate, drank, slept and prayed. Jesus was not self-sufficient - he needed something to bring him into existence and to sustain his existence. But God needs nothing to sustain His existence because God IS.

If Jesus was "fully God" he would not need anything to sustain his existence or anyone to help him like the angles did in the wilderness and in the garden. He would not need anyone to pray to or give him direction as God did, or grow in wisdom and stature (Isiah 7:14-16). He would not need to ever "choose" between good and evil because if he was God he would be good (Isaiah 7:14-16). God is the object of worship and was the object of Jesus’ worship. Had Jesus been God, he would have told people to worship him. But he did the exact opposite as in Matthew 15:9. Based on God's own explanation in the OT of His character, it would be impossible for Him to sink to the level of humanity.

When asked if he was good, Jesus said no one is good but God. Why would Jesus deny his divinity in that instance? Because Jesus was not God! If Jesus were God as you claim, he would have told the man that he WAS good - as God is good.

The last I will leave you with is this:

God cannot die. So when Jesus told John in Revelation 1:18 – “I was dead…” Answer me this question: Who was talking to John here? Was it the man Jesus or the God Jesus?

I'm sure you know where all these scripture references are, so please have another look and see for yourself and be honest about the reality of the truth.

I was where you are my brother, and it has taken me almost 60 years to come to understand the truth. Jesus being a man does not diminish in any way who he was as the Messiah and God's only begotten son.

I'd love to have a much deeper conversation on this matter but I don't want to take Eric's blog comments to do it. Please visit and leave me a comment on the first or second post and we can further the conversation.

In His service