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Lifestyles of Wealthy Celebrity Pastors And Their Self Serving Shallow Theology

Ch 8. Conclusion

By Carol Brooks



Chapter 1: The Investigation: Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer and Eddie Long|
Chapter 2: Joel Osteen, Steven Furtick
Chapter 3: Ed Young, Kevin Gerald, Joseph Prince
Chapter 4: T.D. Jakes, John Hagee, Fred Price, Jesse Duplantis, Juanita Bynum
Chapter 5: Franklin Graham, Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, Wendy and Casey Treat
Chapter 6: Jordan and Jordan. Rev. Run
Chapter 7: Others - Here and Abroad
Chapter 8: Conclusion - Where Did The Idea That Ministers Should Live Modestly Come From?
 What Should Pastors Make And Should His Salary Be Kept From His Congregation? And more


Attacking The Critics HERE,
Where Did The Idea That Ministers Should Live Modestly Come From? HERE
Whose Example Should We Follow? HERE,
Does "The Worker Is Worthy Of His Support" Mean Making a Living OR Living An Extravagant Lifestyle HERE,
What Should Pastors Make? HERE
Should The Pastor's Salary Be Kept From His Congregation? HERE
Finally - Modern Christians and Their False Confidence HERE

Attacking The Critics

As the prophet of old once said

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  (Isaiah 5:20 NASB)

Judge Not
Many of those who defend lavish living preachers will fall back on some Biblical phrases that are as time-worn as they are misunderstood. They will ask you what business you have judging a man of God and remind you that Matthew 7:1 tells us not to judge so that we will not be judged. Few seem to realize that there are numerous examples in the Bible where believers are encouraged, nay commanded to judge. For example,

    Matthew 18:15-20 advocates judging a brother in the context of church discipline SEE;

    I Corinthians 5:12 commands us to "judge those inside" the church;

    Titus 3:10 implores us to have nothing to do with a divisive person;This means we first have to know who the divisive people are - we have to judge.

    I John 4:1 says to "test the spirits to see whether they are from God"; II John 10 warns us to be on guard against false teachers, something that one can only do by judging what they say and do by the Scriptures.

    III John 9-12 gives an example of exposing the malicious deeds of a certain troublemaker.

What Jesus was opposed to was hypocritical judgment, telling us to first take the plank out of our own eye, before we attempt to remove the speck from our brother's eye. For that to apply to the writing of this article, I would have to be making loads of money off the Gospel by preaching a completely erroneous doctrine and then hypocritically criticize other who do.

And if you judged prudently using the Bible as your yardstick, you would realize that these men are NOT men of God.

See The Fourth Most Dangerous Mistake Any Christian Can Make Is To Believe That We, As Christians, Are Not To Judge Anything or Anyone. HERE

As said in an earlier chapter, neither Jesus Himself, nor any of the apostles of the New Testament were jolly good fellows who were polite to everyone and pandered to whatever they happened to believe. Much to the contrary, in complete disregard of the modern sentiment of not 'offending' anyone, Jesus called the Pharisees, who were respected religious leaders of the day, hypocrites, children of hell, blind guides, fools, serpents, and a generation of vipers. Paul used very 'intemperate' language and John, the so called "apostle of love", did not mince words when speaking of people who claimed to know Jesus, but did not obey Him. In fact, he flat out called them "liars".

Why? Because Biblical love did not and does not include quietly standing by while people are led astray by false beliefs. And, if it means publicly denouncing false teachers who are leading others to their death, then so be it.

This, by the way, is the sole reason that this site exists at all.

Another common accusation hurled at the critics head is that they are jealous? Jealous of what? The lavish lifestyle led by the prosperity teachers that they have achieved by preaching false messages that even God never heard of?

Somehow people manage to ignore the fact that that the Scriptures clearly refute the general principles behind this popular doctrine. They gloss over the many verses that specifically warn of the dangers of riches. They never quote any of the Scriptural passages that clearly state that it is not necessarily God's will for us to prosper in this life. They somehow manage to bypass the repeated warnings against focusing on the material things of this world. Church leaders somehow manage to maneuver their way around the verses that speak against being lovers of money or using godliness as a means to financial gain. See The Prosperity Doctrine

The tragedy is that these false teachers are so focused on the good things in the here and now that they have given up all claim to the coming kingdom - having already had their reward. They have forgotten the advice given in Colossians 3:1-4 and Jesus' words in Matthew 10:39

    Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (NASB)

     "He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39 NASB)

At the end of days, all most of them will be able to say to the Lord is

    'Lord, Lord, did we not improve people's dress sense in Your name, and in Your name put on light and sound shows for them, and in Your name teach them how to try and manipulate God into 'favoring' them with wealth and good health?'"

And they will be told "I never knew you"?

All those who hang on to their every word have been hopelessly led astray and are more than likely to share their fate.

Jealous? I think not.

Where Did The Idea That Ministers Should Live Modestly Come From?

In response to the criticism that he is living too large, Ed Young of Dallas says they are not "the ones with the baggage" and claims that the "puritanical bias that ministers must live modestly "stems from monasticism". "It was popularized in the Catholic church — you know, priests and nuns taking the oath of poverty.” [01]

Not exactly true

    While monks like the Franciscans, Benedictines, Dominicans etc. voluntarily take vows that usually include poverty, obedience, and chastity, most priests do not. in fact, the largest category of priests, the Diocesan priests do not even make vows. While the church frowns on luxurious living, diocesan priests can inherit money or property, invest their income or own stocks and shares. [02].

Young also says

    There are people in Scripture who are transcendentally wealthy — I mean, a lot wealthier than even people that we would recognize in Dallas — Abraham, David, Solomon, Joseph of Arimathea, Lazarus — they were some major, major hitters and some of the fathers of our faith. [03]

It is certainly true that people with ample means were not unknown in the Scriptures. However, they were largely from the Old Testament figures. Abraham was a wealthy man long before he was called by the Lord, and one would hardly expect the kings David and Solomon to be poor. Job seemed pretty well off as well.

However, the New Testament is far more focused on spiritual wealth than material. The disciples certainly didn't have any money as shown by Peter who, when asked for a coin by a lame man, replied that he did not possess silver and gold but would give the man what he had - healing (Acts 3:6). Unless Peter was lying he in fact did not have any money. 

Additionally, contrary to what Ed Young would have us believe, there is absolutely no evidence that Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus were particularly wealthy. Also, Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin or council who had (probably in secret) become a disciple of Jesus. After Jesus' death he gathered up his courage and, probably at great risk to himself and his reputation, asked Pilate for Jesus' body that he and Nicodemus laid in his (Joseph's) tomb.

The reason Lazarus and Joseph of Arimathea were even mentioned in the New Testament was because, like Joanna and Susanna who contributed to Jesus and the disciple's support out of their own money (Luke 8:2-3, was because they had a role, albeit limited, in the story of our Lord's time on earth. Their names come up in connection with how Jesus and the disciples bought food etc., one of the many miracles Jesus performed, and where He was buried. These people were nowhere near main players in the Gospel accounts and never again mentioned after Jesus ascended into heaven.

So the fact that these New Testament figures were wealthy means nothing at all.

Whose Example Should We Follow? 
The fact is we do NOT believe clergy should live fairly modestly because some Catholic monastics have chosen to do so. Nor can we give credence to the idea that we should be very wealthy because Abraham, the Jewish kings, and a few of the supporting players of the New Testament were. The ones we have to look up to and follow the examples of can only be the main players in the New Testament - Jesus, His disciples and the early apostles.

Even the most cursory look at the Messiah's life tells us that the Son of God voluntarily relinquished the throne of heaven for our sakes. He opted for a lowly birth, (Matthew 8:20) didn't even have a place to lay His head, was constantly opposed and persecuted by the religious leaders of the day, rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, and endured the deepest shame of being crucified between two thieves. See Was Jesus a Rich Man? 

The Disciples
After Jesus the people crucial to the spreading of the Gospel were His hand picked disciples and the apostles who took Christianity from a tiny sect to a force to be reckoned with. All of Christendom owes them a huge debt of gratitude far larger than we can imagine yet, in return for their enormous, untiring and unbelievably faithful service they were persecuted, hounded, jailed and finally put to death in the most horrible manners that human depravity could dream up. That is all except for John who was imprisoned on the island of Patmos.

Can anyone possibly think that modern day pastors are more special or more important than the first century apostles? Do you seriously imagine that any of the disciples would have bought pricey homes in affluent areas for themselves - much less use other people's money to do so. Unlike so many modern preachers, they were men of the Gospel who had far more integrity than to use the widow's mite for their own comfort.

In view of which, people who support the idea that today's pastors deserve all the luxury money can buy are immature, Biblically ignorant sheep who swallow whatever is spewed from the mouth of slick and charismatic men who are either crooks or themselves hopelessly deceived.

Does "The Worker Is Worthy Of His Support" Mean Making a Living OR Living An Extravagant Lifestyle

In Matthew 10, when Jesus sent the 12 disciples to preach to the lost sheep of Israel, He told them not to take with them two coats, sandals etc, "for the worker is worthy of his support. "

In 1 Corinthians chapter 9, Paul made the case that those who preach the Gospel were entitled to be supported by the Gospel and had the right to stop working. (Vs. 1-6) Some of the examples he put forth were the vineyard owner who eats of the fruits of the vineyard, and the shepherd who tends his flock and drinks the milk the sheep produce. (Vs. 7). Quoting from Deuteronomy 4, Paul went on to say that this is not his own idea but came from Mosaic law which was given so that the plowman and the thresher alike could have hope they would share in the crops. He and Barnabus had sown spiritual things and he asked if it was too much that they in turn reap material things (Vs. 10-11).  Also see 1 Timothy 5:18.

Note that Paul was not writing to claim what was rightfully his, nor was he hinting that the Corinthians should support him. Much to the contrary, he chose not to avail himself of the rights he had. In the second half of 1 Corinthians 9:14 he wrote,

    a) those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. (1 Corinthians chapter 9: 13-14)

    The word living has been rendered from the Greek zao - literally to live or be alive. It is used close to 150 times in the New Testament. For example, the living God (Matthew 16). One cannot live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4), Jesus lived and was dead and is now alive (Revelation 1:18).

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote,

    b) If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. (1 Timothy 6:8-9 NASB)

If you combine 1 Corinthians 9:14 with 1 Timothy 6:8-9 (a and b above) what you have is that those who preach the Gospel are entitled to make a living by it, but are warned against desiring to get rich. I recently read that a pastor's salary should be approximately the same as the average member of their congregation. Less than that and it would seem that he is being exploited. More and it would seem that he is taking advantage of his position. This makes absolute sense.

But somewhere along the way, making a living was transformed into having an lavish lifestyle. Pastors are more than entitled to make a decent living, but they are NOT entitled to an affluent lifestyle. And since so many prosperity teachers seem to like quoting the book of Proverbs, so shall I -

    Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the Lord?" Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:7-9 NASB)

However, these so called men and women of God pull out other verses that they claim justifies their extravagance (See Alleged Scriptural Support For The Prosperity Doctrine. ) and have done a masterful job of selling their ideas to an extremely gullible and Biblically illiterate public. Thus they wear designer clothes and jewelry, live in multi million dollar houses, drive the fanciest cars available, own antiques and other works of art and, in several cases, more than one private plane.

What Should Pastors Make?
The Average Pastor
While I may have given the impression that most pastors are very wealthy and live high flying lifestyles, this is not the case. Although the number vary considerably none of them are exceptionally high. For example,

    Payscale says the average pastor makes around $48,443 [04]

    Salary.com claims the Median Base Salary is about $94.000 [05].

    Christianity Today states that pastor's salaries are largely dependent on "church income and denominational values". The average salary plus housing/parsonage was $78,000 for Presbyterian senior pastors, while Baptist senior pastors earned around $67,000. [06]

Quite obviously there cannot be a fixed salary for a pastor simply because even $100,000 won't go very far in some of the more expensive cities.  For example, in Seattle the median home value is at the ridiculous figure of over $700,000 but in Columbia MO it is less than 200,000. An article on USA Today put it in practical terms.

    It's pretty amazing to see how a two-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,500 square foot house on a quiet street can cost $100,000 in one city, and then the exact same house (same size, specs, and amenities) in another city and state may cost upwards of $500,000. In the past on Zillow, there's been a listing for a three-bedroom, two and a half-bathroom, 1,500 square foot home in Johnson City, Tenn. This home is priced at $126,000. A townhouse with similar specifications in San Diego is priced at $499,000. [07]

However, under no circumstances can I see a pastor taking home a million or even a quarter of that just because 2000 people regularly attend his church.

Offering too low a salary is going to dissuade most men, especially those who have children to feed and educate but, on the other hand a ridiculously high compensation is more likely to attract the climber (who may be in it for the money, power and prestige) than the best person for the job, i.e. the one who actually joined the ministry in order to serve our Lord and His people.

We also need to take into account that (quite ridiculously in my opinion) the job often calls for a post graduate degree that costs money. Student debt can be crushing.  The New Testament had very different criteria that we seem to have all but forgotten about.

     It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer (episkope), it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer (episkopos), then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (1 Timothy 3:1-2 NASB)

    Deacons (diakonos) likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain.... Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. (1 Timothy 3:8, 12 NASB)

    For the overseer (episkopos) must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, (Titus 1:7 NASB)

See The Church... Then and Now - Chapter V - The Leaders

Should The Pastor's Salary Be Kept From His Congregation?
Salary information gathered by the Leadership Network from a survey of 1,251 churches with 500 or more members yielded the following information - Although none of the churches made the salaries available to the general public, 82% made the salaries known to an in-house group that deals specifically with personnel issues. However, only 1% made the salaries available to the entire congregation. That's right - 1%. However, many churches share the information with church members upon request. [08]

Certainly the law says it is legal for a church not to disclose their financial information, but is it ethical?

For a pastor or church to keep salaries a secret implies that something is amiss - either they have something to hide or think that the people who actually pay the salaries have no right to know what they make.  Why in the world would anyone attend a church that is not open and transparent about its finances? If you are asked to donate money, you have every right to know where your money is being spent.

People who attend churches where all you are expected to do is show up on Sunday and ask no questions, but pay for the privilege of being entertained for a couple of hours reminds me of the old adage about mushrooms - kept in the dark and fed manure.

To add insult to injury, many "religious" non-profits, that are obliged to make their financial information public, seek to take advantage of the fact that churches do not and are now asking to be reclassified as churches.

The very fact that I am told that I cannot disclose certain details about the organization means that should they those facts ever become general knowledge, they would be embarrassing at the very least. I.e. There is something to hide.

In any case, when even the Bible does not tell me what I can and cannot do (Whether I follow the Lord's commandments depends on my own free choice) I am certainly never going to sign any kind of non-disclosure agreement or membership covenant. It seems like utter foolishness to put myself under the authority of any other human, especially when it comes to people I do not really know.

Finally - Modern Christians and Their False Confidence
Tragically, the modern church seems to be under the impression that they cannot be fooled. Perhaps those simpletons of the first century needed to be warned about the wolves among the flock. Perhaps the uneducated peasants of the early church needed to be reminded that it is wise to check everything by the Word of God.

But times have changed. Today's modern, ultra smart techie generation thinks they cannot be taken in so easily. So, we continue in our conceit, totally oblivious to the fact that the path we are on is pointed down, not up. That the fangs are well concealed behind the facade of ornate and expensive stages, slick even engaging personalities, and brilliant smiles.

A day of judgment is coming when we will be asked, not how much money we had, but whether we lived a faithful life, and in that day the wolves, and those that listened to and supported them, will not fare very well.

Remember this - YOU are responsible for how you use the resources He has provided, so stop for a moment to think whether you want to help Jesse Duplantis or Creflo Dollar buy yet another private plane, or help a missionary get Bibles, a bicycle, a warm coat or even a pair of shoes, all of which are desperately needed by many organizations around the world.

And if you insist on spending your money so that someone can live high on the hog and your so-called church can put on a fancy light show - then they will not be the only ones who have to answer to the Lord -

YOU will as well.

Also See The Crown Without The Cross on THIS Page


End Notes

[01] Christopher Wynn. The Dallas Morning News Inc. Dear God: Is Dallas society ready for Fellowship Church's sex-loving, million-dollar minister? http://res.dallasnews.com/interactives/2013_December/pastored/

[02] The Priesthood and The Vow of Poverty. http://canonlawmadeeasy.com/2008/11/20/the-priesthood-and-the-vow-of-poverty/

[03] Nicola Menzie , Christian Post Reporter. Ed Young of Fellowship Church to Star in Reality Show? Family Dubbed 'Christianized Version' of the Kardashians. Nov 29, 2013. https://www.christianpost.com/news/ed-young-of-fellowship-church-to-star-in-reality-show-family-dubbed-christianized-version-of-the-kardashians-109747/

[04] https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Pastor/Salary

[05] https://www1.salary.com/Pastor-Salaries.html

[06] What Pastors Get Paid. Results from Christianity Today International's latest nationwide research.

[07] Erika Rawes, 10 least expensive states to live in the U.S. USA Today.

[08] Thom Rainer on Letting the Church Know the Preacher’s Salary. Posted in 2016 by Jay F Guin.


Index To The Lifestyles of Wealthy Celebrity Pastors