Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tithing and Paid Clergy

While serving a LDS mission in Barcelona, Spain; I had the chance to speak with thousands of people concerning the LDS church. I am regularly reminded of things we would focus on and teach. I don’t remember this actually being in the discussions taught to potential converts but one of the things we would make sure to mention is that the LDS church does not have a paid clergy and that it is run by an all voluntary group of men and women. I normally would not have a problem with this but there are a few things that have stuck out in my mind that now make me wonder why it is set up this way.

I have been attending a non-denominational church with my wife and I am amazed at the depth and quality of teaching they do there. They explain and teach with such clarity. Each sermon or lesson is firmly rooted in multiple scriptures which are often explained using the original Hebrew or Greek text to help ensure that the correct connotation of key words are understood. Listening and taking in this information has been amazing. Here is where I am going with this. In the LDS church, every Sunday is like “open mic” night, where amateur speakers are given 5-20 minutes to teach. Some take this very seriously and spend a good amount of time preparing but a large percentage of those asked to speak probably spend only a few hours on their talk at best. The problem with this is that there is no real depth and quality of teaching which leads to members who are not fed spiritually. There also is no quality control so the person selected that Sunday could slip in many opinions or bad interpretations of scripture and doctrine. I think this is part of the reason it is practically impossible to pin down Mormon doctrine. 100+ years of “un-official” teaching will do that. If you look back on the past 5-10 years of General Conference where the prophet and apostles speak, you will see the same basic teachings time and time again. No depth, no substance, just the same lifeless words taught just 6 months before. Why is that? Should the “true church” be able to give their members more? I certainly think so and I would expect them to.

The other thing is part of the temple endowment ceremony (before 1990 when it was removed). I think I have talked about this before but it applies here so I will just mention it again. In the endowment, Satan paid a “sectarian minister” to lead away those looking for God by using false teachings and doctrine. Why put that image and idea into every stalwart LDS member who went to the temple? What was the purpose of that? (You can read the actuall transcript by going to my "temple" section and reading about the changes made over the years.)

With those things in mind, let’s take a look at the following verses from the Bible paying special attention to verse 4.

2 Cronicles 31:2-12

2 Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions—each of them according to their duties as priests or Levites—to offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, [a] to minister, to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the LORD's dwelling. 3 The king contributed from his own possessions for the morning and evening burnt offerings and for the burnt offerings on the Sabbaths, New Moons and appointed feasts as written in the Law of the LORD.

4 He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the LORD.

5 As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. 6 The men of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah also brought a tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy things dedicated to the LORD their God, and they piled them in heaps. 7 They began doing this in the third month and finished in the seventh month. 8 When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw the heaps, they praised the LORD and blessed his people Israel.
9 Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the heaps; 10 and Azariah the chief priest, from the family of Zadok, answered, "Since the people began to bring their contributions to the temple of the LORD, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare, because the LORD has blessed his people, and this great amount is left over."
11 Hezekiah gave orders to prepare storerooms in the temple of the LORD, and this was done. 12 Then they faithfully brought in the contributions, tithes and dedicated gifts.

So, those who lived in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas brought their tithes, which included many different things to the priests and Levites so they could divide it amongst themselves so they could devote themselves to the Law of the LORD.

I find this interesting because they were told to take the tithes given by the people and use it so that they would not have to worry about those basic needs and be able to devote the greater majority of their time studying, teaching and administering the Law of the Lord. This is exactly what churches with paid clergy do with the tithes and offerings they bring in and the amount of preparation and care given to those they pastor can be easily seen.

Why then do Mormons not do the same thing? Interestingly enough, they used to.

D&C 42:71-73
71 And the elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors in all things, are to have their families asupported out of the property which is bconsecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned;
72 Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and bishop.
73 And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services in the church.

I have not been able to find when and why this changed but it appears that for many years the LDS church did the same thing that they later taught was an abomination in their temple. I will keep looking to see if I can find anything authoritative on why this change happened and post it if I find it.

I don’t think that this is a huge issue personally except for the fact that the members of the LDS church are not getting fed in the way they could or should be and that is a shame. I merely bring it up as another example of where the LDS church strays from the Bible and short changes its faithful tithe payers in the process. Those who have grown up LDS unfortunately have no idea what kind of understanding and knowledge they are missing.


  1. The key New Testament passage dealing with this is in 1 Corinthians 9. There Paul speaks of the right he has to earn a living by preaching the Gospel, specifically in verses 13-14:

    13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

    I caught some missionaries in this when they asserted that there was nowhere in the Bible that speaks of paying preachers. They seemed a little flabbergasted that they had never been taught this.

    Now, Paul also speaks of the fact that he doesn't accept money to preach so that no one can accuse him of using the Gospel ministry for his own gain. I actually am not a huge fan of the paid, professional ministry but it is not a concept without Biblical support. It is just another one of the places where mormonism makes a claim and no one checks into it to see if it is true.

  2. Sido,

    I don’t think I have ever seen that verse so thank your for sharing. It seems that every day I find something else in the Bible that I never knew was there.

    I used to have a problem with paid ministry but now that I have seen the amount of time and energy these people put into their work, it does not bother me. I’m sure there are some bad examples of pastors who abuse the well intended offerings but there are some great stewards out there as well who take this responsibility seriously.

  3. Well here's another verse for you soy yo:

    1Ti 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

    Honour means pay, as in honorarium. Also as in, honour your father and mother. Which means take care of them when they are not able to take care of themselves.

  4. Maybe it is just me but your new blog background is really hard to read!

  5. I'll second arthur's comments about the background; it is very hard to read.

    Here's another verse; it actually follows the verse I cited:

    18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

    So this would seem to me to be a major error, seeing that the mormons claim continuing revelation, unless of course the deity has changed His mind on the subject.

    The bible says that God does not change. It seems that the mormon god changes all the time. It's stay tuned for the latest developments. Or texas weather: If you don't like the weather today, that's ok, it'll be different tomorrow.

  6. I'm not a fan of the new background either.

  7. paying clergy is not doctrine.

    to finish...

    flag refers to your faith...what religion ard you..i have no need to read your blog.

    other people already address your facts,church history, doctrine, etc... i choose to focus on the character flaws...hypocrisy, integrity.
    when you find a new religion let me know and we can anslyze it...or get some integrity and go steve benson ...atheist.

  8. Mark,

    You say that you only come here to read hypocrisy, character flaws, and lack of integrity. I feel that is exactly what Soy Yo is trying to show you about the Mormon church.


  9. Oh, I’m sorry Mark, are you still talking?

  10. I really have to agree with you, Soy Yo. I get so much more out of a sermon where the preacher has had enough time to prepare. I'm not opposed to part-time pastors either, in small churches, where they work part-time and supplement their income from tithes and offerings, but I believe supporting our pastors and teachers is Biblical (as you and the other commenters have already pointed out). I would much rather have a paid pastor who brings fresh, new insights from his personal time spent in the Word and prayer than the open mic option. Yuk! I've never been a big fan of open mics in churches - it can be pretty unpredictable! :)

    And, yes, this background is way easier to read! :) Thank you. Love your posts. Keep up the good work!

  11. Soy Yo's one and only true wife:)January 20, 2009 at 6:51 PM

    Appearantly the background I liked sucked!!! No worries I think we did good with this one honey!!!

    Mark you punk:)

    Amy...Doug's Better Half

  12. The above comment was deleted because the author has proven through out the past few days that he is incapable of making intelligent remarks and sees if fit to only tear down me as well as others who participate here. I will not let it slide any longer.

  13. Profanity serves two primary purposes: To obscure the issues being discussed by focusing attention on itself. And to alienate those being addressed. Neither purpose furthers intelligent conversation and shows the perpetrator to be of questionable character and motives.

    So bravo soy yo in keeping your site free of it.

  14. The new background is much better, some of the cool templates require you to change the font. I struggle with it on my main blog all the time, I think I finally have it though!

    Back on topic though, I do have some concerns about the single pastor model where one man preaches and everyone else receives. When I was pastoring a church I worked full time and still put in the prep time for two full length expository sermons on Sunday's. I did get paid but I could have done without it. My worry is that by subcontracting all of the responsibilities to the pastor, the rest of the congregation can get lazy or preaching can turn into performance. I do appreciate great preaching though, it is an issue I am really trying to work through.

  15. I can see what you are saying. Complacency is a virus in any church. If it is not addressed early on, it only gets worse. The pastor has to be able to instill in his congregation a passion for participating and learning. Perhaps that is where “small groups” come into play. I admit that I have only been to a few but they seem like a place where individuals are really encouraged to grow by studying, listening and teaching.

  16. Most of the churches that I have been in do exegetical exposition. That is they go thru the bible line by line and expound it. Usually they do one book and when they are finished go to another book.

    I think that the book of mormon most certainly would not stand up to that kind of scrutiny. What do you think, soy yo?

  17. pops have you READ the Book of mormon? Doing line by line exposition would be so boring that people would be making nooses in the back of the church! How many times can you exegete "and it came to pass"?

    most of the talks when we were mormons were self-help talks or regurgitations of something a general authority said with a couple of out of context Scripture quotes.

  18. Pop’s,
    There really is no way to study the Book of Mormon like you do the Bible. When looking at the Bible, you go back to the original text in Hebrew and Greek to get a better understanding of what the passages mean. There is nothing to go back and look at with the BoM because the plates, which probably never really existed, were conveniently taken away by an angel. That is actually for the best because I think they would have a hard time explaining what “Reformed Egyptian” is, why no one else has ever seen it, and why Jews who had just left Jerusalem were writing in Egyptian and not Hebrew.

  19. Was it an angel of light who took the plates away?

  20. Barcelona, Spain! wow -- my family is from galicia. My parents are cuban but their parents were gallegos. I served my mission in B.S. Argentina. ( 1990-91)

    I wanted to add and say great post... and I agree! My kids and I also attend a non denominational fellowship and I am amazed at how in depth the teaching is! Amazed! I recall vividly the dry LDS meetings and hearing talks that were not well prepared or doctrinally incorrect. Then there was the youth talks that more often than not were ill prepared as well. The problem with that is that people need to be fed living waters and and the bread of life and they are certainly not receiving it.

    I recall the first time I attended a bible study... I was starving... I felt like an orphan who had not eaten for years..... I could not get enough of the Word of God. I took notes and hung on ever word the pastor spoke. Oh how hungry I was for God's word!

    My heart aches for the lost in the LDS church.. for my friends who are starving for spiritually food that they do not receive. They get fed 'programs' instead of living water and the bread of life.

    Great post and so true,


  21. P.S. oops I forgot to add that the General Authorities and first presidency of the LDS church do receive an income/stripend. So the LDS can not claim in all honesty that there is no paid clergy. I don't know how much of a stripend, but they do receive compsensation.