Sunday, February 26, 2006
Recently, a group of Wesleyan pastors and students at Asbury Seminary were discussing the issue of some Wesleyan churches who are considering moving towards a pastor performance based salary. There were a variety of comments made with some seeing the positives in it, while others being disgusted with the whole concept. For instance:
-If a church is in decline, should that be enough to validate a reduction of salary purely because of quantitative numbers?
-Can the pastor lose the prophetic voice because total attendance could decrease if the truth were boldly proclaimed?
-As one rewards countable numbers like baptisms or new members, how would we measure discipleship and assess spiritual growth?
-Would these bonuses also apply to staff pastors (youth, worship, and so forth)?
-Is this way of analyzing and rewarding a pastor biblical, or have we gone to far in allowing the corporate and capitalistic philosophies to enter into our churches?
So…What do you think about churches moving towards a performance based salary (i.e., church grows by 50, $1,000 bonus; church grows by 100, $2,500 bonus)?
Any thoughts, questions, or conerns?
Thursday, February 09, 2006
I have always wondered, if my life was made into a movie, what type of movie would it be (Action, Drama, a Love Story)? Who would play me in the movie (Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Owen Wilson)? Would it break all kinds of records, ranking up there with 'Titanic', 'Lord of the Rings', and the like?
Man, was I wrong...check it out.
The Movie Of Your Life Is An Indie Flick
Monday, February 06, 2006
Part 3—Becoming More ‘Like’ the Pharisees!
We have heard of the many disagreements between Jesus and the Pharisees, but do we really know what they believed, and furthermore, do we understand the great things they brought to our faith. Hugo Odeberg, in Pharisaism and Christianity states, “there is no essential difference between the teaching of Jesus and the doctrines of the leaders of the Pharisees, that is, the teachings of the rabbis.” Yet, the harsh words Jesus used in confronting the Pharisees have obscured their agreements. For instance, Jesus lived as a loyal Jew and accepted the authority of the Torah; he also had many friendly contacts with certain Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-2).
However, as there might be some misconceptions between Jesus’ relationship and agreement with the Pharisees, there also must be some validity to his sharp rebukes. “The error of the Pharisees and their scribes as revealed in the New Testament scriptures can only be called a tragic irony. Those who were in principle the most deeply committed to the practice of the righteousness of the Torah, whose very tradition was invented to realize that righteousness, are shown here to oppose and invalidate a commandment of God through that tradition.” In explaining His criticism, we finally see the validation for such rebuke. Jesus takes their act of righteousness to deeper level. His point is that ‘moral’ righteousness is more important than certain rituals or ceremonial purity. As a result, one can see that it was not the foundation of their doctrines he disagreed with, but rather their current ways of practicing some of these doctrines. Furthermore, much can be confirmed about Jesus’ relationship with the Pharisees:
1. “Above all others, the Pharisees were respected and admired for their serious pursuit of righteousness (Matthew 23:2-3) (perhaps this is exactly why Jesus criticized them so harshly).”
2. Scholars believe that Matthew took some of his information from Mark, who was writing to gentile Christians. Matthew, on the other hand, is addressing Jewish Christians, “who in their own debate with the synagogue, the contemporary manifestation of Pharisaic Judaism.” From this, we can presuppose that Matthew knew the strong agreement Jesus had with the Pharisees appreciation for Torah, and living righteously, yet knowing the audience in which he was writing to, he also felt it was important to stress the disagreements.
3. Notice that Luke presents the Pharisees as not all that unfriendly towards Jesus. He is their guest at table (Luke 7:36; 11:37; 14:1). According to 13:31, they warn him of Herod’s plot against him. In Acts the relationship with the Christian communities is even more positive (Acts 5:34; 15:5; 23:9). Also, individual Pharisees like Nicodemus were attracted to Jesus and His ways.
In conclusion, the Pharisees have given us much more to live for. In today’s world of individualism, materialism, and the like, the purpose of the Pharisaic way of life, obeying the Torah, and tradition, are pillars, which we need to affirm and even refer back too. Thus, the Pharisees were right in trying to keep Scripture applicable, but were wrong in their method by making ‘their’ dogmatic traditions superior or equal to the written word. Though the Pharisees honestly sought God’s will, they were conditioned by their own traditions, yet, Jesus offered a corrective to both viewpoints. The written word is authoritative, but the great fundamental principles therein take precedence and provide the standard by which it is to be interpreted and applied. Hence, “The only proper method of establishing the true difference between Christianity and Pharisaism is obviously that we seek to obtain as accurate knowledge of both as we possibly can, and it is especially important that we gain a correct knowledge of the doctrines and fundamental principles of Pharisaism. A true knowledge of Pharisaism is of fundamental importance for the protection of the unique character of Christianity.” I believe there is much to be learned from the Pharisees, a righteousness and commitment that Christ reflects, acknowledges, and one He agreed with!
So what do you think?
-Should we become more like the Pharisees?
-What Christian practices are linked to Pharisee traditions (refer to part 2 for traditions/beliefs)?
-If the heart and practice are right with God, should we refer back to some of the Pharisees traditions and ways of life (refer to part 2 for traditions/beliefs)?
-Are our thoughts of the Pharisees skewed?
-How does their way differ from the Holiness Movement (righteousness, perfection, and so forth)?
Any other questions, thoughts, or insights?
(note: some info. taken from “Pharisaism and Christianity”, “Backgrounds of Early Christianity”, and Logos)