(My wife unearthed this a few days ago. It is a letter to the editor that appeared in the London (Ontario) Free Press on May 28, 1987, at the height of the foofaraw over the extravagant lifestyle of Jimmy and Tammy Faye Bakker. We were living in Fullarton, Ontario, about 20 minutes north of London at the time.)
Evangelical Christianity is being besmirched today by the unfolding soap opera of the TV preachers. Where does the ultimate responsibility lie? Isn’t it with the people who think that the blessing of God can be bought by giving financial support to these empires?
Ray Stevens’s new song, Would Jesus Wear A Rolex? (Would Jesus Wear A Rolex? pokes fun at TV evangelists, Free Press, April 24), is asking important questions – questions that should be honestly considered by every person who is thinking of sending money to one of the TV preachers.
The problem is an old one. Only the methods are new. The following quote sounds very contemporary. Actually it was written over 400 years ago by a Dutch preacher named Menno Simons: “Consider this. As long as the world distributes splendid houses and such large incomes to their preachers, the false prophets and deceivers will be there in droves.”
Menno Simons believed in the simple Biblical pattern for the calling and lifestyle of preachers: “Humble yourselves and become unblamable disciples, that you may thereafter become called ministers. Do not go on your own account, but wait until you are called of the Lord’s church. If this takes place, brethren, then pastor diligently, preach and teach valiantly, rent a farm, milk cows, learn a trade if possible, do manual labour as did Paul, and all that you then fall short of will doubtlessly be given and provided for you by pious brethren, by the grace of God, not in superfluity, but as necessity requires.”
Thankfully, there are some branches of the Mennonite faith that still practise this counsel of Menno Simons. Perhaps it seems like a double burden to ask someone to be a minister and at the same time earn his own living. But have you ever noticed how much of a salaried minister’s time and attention are consumed by financial concerns?
The heart of the matter is that I have much more confidence in a minister when I can feel that his primary concern is the content of my heart, rather than the content of my bank account.
Bob Goodnough, Fullarton