"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Monday, July 11, 2011

David Croteau and Jon Zens: Two New Books Worth Reading

Readers - there are two new books that are out that you might wish to consider buying - two books that your pastor very likely doesn't want you to read, especially if you're a member of FBC Jax. I have placed my orders for both.

The first is the new book on the tithing doctrine by David Croteau, called "Perspectives on Tithing: Four Views", in which Croteau and 5 other authors lay forth four different views of the tithing doctrine and New Testament giving. What is unique about this book is that each author has a section of the book containing their view on the tithing doctrine, followed by rebuttals from the other authors. This is a great way to compare and contrast the different views on tithing. Croteau gives Ken Hemphill, the SBC's point-man on the tithing doctrine, a chance to give the SBC party-line on tithing.

This book by Croteau is a follow-up to last year's "You Mean I Don't Have to Tithe: A Deconstruction of Tithing and a Reconstruction of Post-Tithe Giving." Croteau is a Ph.D. graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and an assistant professor at Liberty University, whose dissertation was on the tithe under the tutelage of Dr. Andreas Kostenberger. You might remember the hullabaloo created when SBC pastor Les Puryear contacted Danny Akin attempting to get Kostenburger fired because he doesn't teach "storehouse tithing" at SEBTS. It was all documented on Wade Burleson's blog last year.

Perhaps I'll write another article after I read the book, but one thing that stands out to me: those of you who have preachers who stand in the pulpit and declare with 100% certainty that you as a Christian are obligated to give 10% to your church, else you are disobedient and under a curse from God: your preacher does NOT want you to read this book. They don't want you to know is that there are very conservative scholars who have examined the doctrine, who don't have a financial stake in convincing you to tithe, that have determined that the tithe does not apply to those under the New Covenant - and that your finances are not cursed until you tithe on your "first fruits".

I hope many lay people read this book to compare and contrast the views of tithing and come to a conclusion, rather than just listening to their preacher tell them about curses and God's judgments on those who don't fork over 10%.

The other book is by Jon Zens, entitled "The Pastor Has No Clothes: Moving from Clergy-Centered Church to Christ-Centered Ekklesia". Those of you who have read "Pagan Christianity" by Frank Viola and George Barna will want to read this. Jon Zens and Frank Viola are close friends and have much of the same views on the state of the modern church. Here is Frank Viola's plug for the book:
"Jon Zens has written one of the most important books of the 21st century. If you thought Pagan Christianity was controversial, think again. Jon’s book demonstrates beyond dispute that the clergy-system (in the form of the modern pastorate) is not only unbiblical, but contrary to the headship of Jesus Christ. I hope that every Christian reads this volume with an open heart and mind, especially those who deem themselves “leaders” in the body of Christ. I applaud Jon for his courage in adding another Scripture-based book to help foment the growing revolution that God has begun today — a revolution designed to give His church back to His beloved Son." Frank Viola
So there you have it.

Two books that your pastors definitely don't want you to read, because they will challenge you to reconsider the two pillars of their power: their ability to convince you that you need a headliner pastor in your life to tell you what the bible says, and that God requires you to give them 10% of your gross income.

In my book, Croteau and Zens are modern day Christian heroes who are not afraid to speak the truth.
-----------------------
Other related Watchdog posts:

"Dr. David A. Croteau Has Another Book on Tithing Coming Soon" - November 21, 2010.

"A Look at the Doctrine of Storehouse Tithing" - November 18, 2009 (looking at Kostenburger's and Croteau's research at SEBTS)

"Daring to Question the Storehouse Tithing Doctrine" - November 23, 2010.

"Brunson Defends Tithing Doctrine, Impugns Authors' Financial Motives"
- September 18, 2010. (Brunson impugns the financial motives of Barna and/or Viola).

"As a Gift to Our Mothers and Daughters, Consider You May be Wrong About the Doctrine of Male-Only Authority in the Church" - May 8, 2011 (mention Jon Zens' teaching on women in the church).

38 comments:

New BBC Open Forum said...

The Pastor Has No Clothes has to be the best book title ever! And the cover art just makes it. Large and in charge... and buck "nekkid" and hardly anyone seems to notice... although with Mac's Plexiglas pulpit it might be more difficult not to notice. {shudder}

Anonymous said...

Your statement shows your lack of knowledge and disdain towards Brunson! That was put in by Lindsey and Vines years ago, not your nemesis Mac Brunson!

Anonymous said...

Since we're talking about nekkid preachers, I do give Mac many kudos for losing a significant amount of weight in the last few months. He looks better and healthier. Keep up the good work, Mac !!

dee said...

Thank you for highlighting these two books. I am ordering both of them. Also, you have done a great job covering the Smryl/Brunson situation. I think it is important to watch church conflict and learn from it. I find the whole thing fascinating.

I love the "bitterness" word getting flung around.It's one of those buzz words that pastors, who are under the gun, use when there is nothing else to say. Love it!

Keep up the good work.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Thanks Dee. It is interesting to watch the Smyrl/Brunson thing. I will continue to follow it as best I can.

New BBC: yes indeed, the cover page is a hoot.

Anon 6:43 - the plexiglass pulpit was purchased back in the late 90s by Vines, but was used exclusively in the RLA. But who cares?

Anon 8:40 - yes indeed, Mac has become much more fit this year. As he preached in January, his wife provided him a "personal trainer" to help him get fit as a gift for Christmas. Good for him, he sure is a good example in that area.

Bojac said...

I do not believe that tithing is taught in the New testament. I have been a pastor for many years. I just tell my church that i believe when god saves a person it includes a desire to give. But when and how much is left to te individual. I have made some church treasuers anxious when i say this but i have never pastored a church that could not meet their obligations.

Anonymous said...

Tithing is strictly fund-raising...using the Bible as a sledge hammer to pick the pockets of gullible Christians.

The biggest shame though are Capital Campaigns.

When you have an opportunity to see the ins and outs of a Capital Campaign, it will make you sick!

It is the "World" brought right in to our "Church"....lets kick the money changers out!

Anonymous said...

Dog,

Do you know why Mac's sermon from last Sunday is NOT archived. I would like to watch it, but it is not available.

Anonymous said...

This "tithing" stuff is fairy tales dreamed up to pay salaries.

God does NOT operate that way to bless you if you give...come on now...that is not in the Bible.

God gives and God takes away...that is Bible.

I haven't tithed in 15 years and I am being blessed....what do you think about that....MAC???

Anonymous said...

Anon. 2:21.

I can probably explain why Brunson's last sermon was not archived...There was NO sermon, just HISTORY!
Jesus Christ takes second or third place behind Brunson's oh so important history lessons and stupid stories!

Anonymous said...

Dog:

I for one am so upset over FBC changes that I no longer give to this ministry.

I will not support a millionaire pastor. I do not feel that my offering goes toward salvation of souls like I used to under Lindsay and Vines.

I now donate to other organizations that are reaching souls for Jesus Christ and not revenue for pastors.

I also found out that a certain Baptist church in Jax. has a pastor who actually WORKS on the side and does not take a salary from his church...he preaches for free because he believes in SERVING the Lord, not living off of Him.

Please pray for FBC because it looks like a dying church compared to when REAL pastors were at the helm of leadership.

Jackie C said...

I can't speak for other pastors, but I would be ecstatic if my parishioners would read these two books, or any other books about the Bible, the church, theology, spiritual growth, prayer, ministry,etc... Heck, I'd be downright giddy if they just read the Bible a couple of times during the week.

As an aside, I agree with the pundit who observed that he rarely learns anything from people who agree with him all the time. That's what I love about the blogosphere. I'm learning stuff all the time.

Anonymous said...

Most Pastors are on the golf course ministering to the "Green Family" or on their Boat that they named "Visitation".

I would LOVE to have a job with no supervisors, no job description, very little accountability, and the freedom to come and go as I want to.

Mac is making about $200,000 a year and is driving the Church into the ground.

It really is a shame but when you think about it, we gave him a job, we gave him the salary, we listen to his terrible sermons, we allow him to berate us...who is really to blame here????

Anonymous said...

"Jesus Christ takes second or third place behind Brunson's oh so important history lessons and stupid stories!"

oh please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a moronic statement. Scripture is history. Living History.

Anonymous said...

"It really is a shame but when you think about it, we gave him a job, we gave him the salary, we listen to his terrible sermons, we allow him to berate us...who is really to blame here????

July 12, 2011 3:37 PM

The fellowship that is watching their people go through the exit doors are the ones to blame.

Since we left 'quietly" not one has called to even see if we are sick or even alive, but the tithing envelopes keep rolling in monthly. :>)

Anonymous said...

If you tithe to FBCJax, you need to reevaluate your decision making process.

Salaries here are almost 60% of the budget.

Salaries here are way above the average for a Church our size.

I know....I checked!

Our Senior Pastor is in the top 5% of salaries for Pastors in the USA...is he one of the top 5% Pastors in the USA....you know the answer to that!

I don't mind a man making a good salary. A laborer is worth his wages the Scripture teaches.

Mac really is mid-level talent at a major league salary.

I see him angry all the time, I would be angry too if I was in danger of losing my gravy train!

Anonymous said...

The tithing envelopes keep coming in until you transfer your membership to another fellowship! End of story!

I checked and confirmed!! said...

60%? Not!!! You know nothing like that is true! Come on weds night and the budget report shows nothing like that! Since we are throwing out rumors maybe so staff have left due to moral slipping of some sort!


I know........I checked!

MJ said...

The primary problem with those who reject the tithing principle, is not that they reject it, but that they slander those who honestly and sincerely teach it.

It is one thing to disagree with it, which is fine.

It is another thing altogether to slander the character and motives of honest humble men, who do see the principle of the tithe in the texts.

It is the hostility, and the character slander that is aimed at EVERY tithe teacher, that is a serious problem.

No Doubt, some of them are just as greedy as those who want to give very little and be happy about it.

But not all of them. Only when the rhetoric about character is toned down, will real dialogue begin.

I said in my haste, All men are liars. Psalms 116:11

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 4:16 - the 60% seems a little high, but there is no way to tell the percentage of the budget that goes to salaries from the FBC Jax budget reports. It is very well masked.

Anonymous said...

MJ,

:The primary problem with those who reject the tithing principle, is not that they reject it, but that they slander those who honestly and sincerely teach it.:

None of these men teach a "tithing principle."

They bind it on believers' consciences along with the "curse of the Law" for non-conformity.

It is bondage and nothing short of a return to those elementary principles of the world to which you were once enslaved (Galatians 4:8-11). Adhering to the Law of Moses and the tithing system that supported the Levitical priesthood, with the coming of CHRIST, death and ressurection, is a practical regression in the historical/redemptive plan of GOD, and is dead works.

It can't be done, but if you want to live irrationally and not conform to the progressive revelation of Scripture, then you must keep the entire corpus of the Law of Moses because there is no more sacrifice for sin--only the Lord Jesus Christ.

Uh, oh you have already transgressed, and that is dire, and I do not mean it "tongue in cheek either." It is All of Christ or not. There is a fine line on this issue, but GOD knows the heart. How many are taking comfort and have confidence in their discipline to keep the rules rather than looking to Christ?

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
Eph 2:14-16 (ESV)

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Col 2:13-15 (ESV)

Watchdog, and others, are simply exhorting people to stand fast in the liberty in which Christ has made them free. Walk in the Spirit, manifest those fruits, proving to not be under the Law, and not needing such to be obedient from the heart.

Anonymous said...

MJ,


The 613 Laws, ordinances, precepts, and commandments were not EVER given to the Gentiles, and only to the nation of Israel. I am amazed at 21st century Gentile "Christians" wanting to embrace the "law sin and death."
Gentiles need not to look to Moses' Law--(remember the Jerusalem council Acts 15)--look to Christ.

The Old Covenant and all that it entailed was for a specific time period--Moses till CHRIST.

Tithing was set up to support the temple work and the Levites involved in carrying it out because they did not have a land inheritance. It had to do with the land...... the land of Caanan specifically, and not money. It expanded afterwards, but even the expansion had to do with the Levitical system and the worship of JEHOVAH by HIS elect people Israel.

The Lord Jesus Christ has changed all of that....."For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well."
Heb 7:12 (ESV)

This issue is not a matter of preferance. Storehouse tithing is heresy, misrepresents the LORD to HIS people, and tries to enslave and curse people after CHRIST has liberated them.

Paul did not see it as a tertiary issue.......see Galatians.

New BBC Open Forum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Anon 10:08, Absolutely on target! The LAW serves to condemn/show us that we need Christ, to act as a preservative to society and as something to strive for under the power of the Holy Spirit! We as Christians can never obey the LAW of the OT, never, never, never. Christ has performed that (the LAW) for us and died in our stead! We are dead to the power of sin and free in Christ!

New BBC Open Forum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
New BBC Open Forum said...

Mac is making about $200,000 a year and is driving the Church into the ground.

Well, according to a very, very close and chatty source, if that's true, he's making less than his minister of music. Just sayin'.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Your statement shows your lack of knowledge and disdain towards Brunson! That was put in by Lindsey and Vines years ago, not your nemesis Mac Brunson!

Um... disdain? Wow. I didn't say Mac had that pulpit put in. That's irrelevant. I had no idea when it was put in, but it's Mac's pulpit now.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:-)

WishIhadknown said...

Let it be known that July 12, 2011 at 9:39 AM, WD complimented Bruson.

Anonymous said...

Brunson makes over 400 thousand a year. He has made millions since he has been here.


F A C T!!!!

Anonymous said...

F a l s e.

He said in the Times Union that he doesn't make anywhere near $300,000, and is one of the lowest paid mega church pastors in the SBC.

You calling him a liar?

Anonymous said...

Word is getting out that these mega pastors are poor.

Just listen and they will tell you so:

Poor Steve Gaines

Anonymous said...

Word is getting out that these mega pastors are poor.

Just listen and they will tell you so:

Poor Steve Gaines

New BBC Open Forum said...

As several of us have pointed out before, "nowhere near $300,000" could mean $200,000 or $500,000. Technically, both statements are true. Misleading, but true.

Kevin said...

I may check out David Croteau's book, but I'm not sure about Zens. I didn't think Pagan Christianity was a great book. The author made some interesting points, but it came across to me as extremely biased.

Anonymous said...

I promise you this guy (Mac Brunson) is smiling every single payday!

Think about it...

Makes over $20,000 per month
(That does not include perks)

Makes money off his "trips".

Makes money when he speaks, usually at $2000 per "speech".

Would you want to leave this "gig"?

He is not a 'great' preacher...he is not terrible...he is good...

But "good" Preachers are a dime a dozen!!!

If he left this Church this Sunday,
attendance would climb, offerings would soar, and there would be a distinct difference in our office...they are sick and tired of being berated and humiliated!

Anonymous said...

anon 10:13am

So true! so true! We need a pastor that has heart for lost souls and preaches the Bible not revisionist history!

Anonymous said...

The author made some interesting points, but it came across to me as extremely biased.

July 13, 2011 4:50 AM

That is what I have heard most "pastors" say about it.

Kevin said...

Anonymous,
I don't claim to be completely objective. I do feel God has called me to ministry, and I did go to seminary.

But I was also trained in the church planting movement philosophy, which is a based more on the house church idea (and spend some of my ministry years using that model). And technically I'm not pastoring a church right now.

I simply think Viola missed the mark on some of his points. Saying, for example, that a traditional church has "no right to exist" misses the mark.

Just my two cents.