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Steven Cole's Master Thesis - Dallas Theological Seminary

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A Thesis Presented to The Faculty of the Department of Biblical Exposition
Dallas Theological Seminary

May, 1976


The Need for the Study

One of the first and most important issues facing a person entering socalled “full-time” Christian work is the question of financial support. Whether he is a seminary graduate entering a pastorate with a monthly salary of a person joining a missionary or evangelistic organization which requires him to raise his own support, the issue must be faced. It is an obviously crucial and key factor in Christian service, and one of inherent practical significance.

The financial practices of Christian leaders have provided ammunition for the world’s skeptics down through the centuries. It is an area which can be either an impressive testimony or a sorrowful indictment of a man’s ministry. Therefore, the Christian worker must be thoroughly informed concerning the New Testament principles of financial support. He cannot afford to follow the example of the world nor the tradition of the church. He must have the biblical perspective clearly in mind in order to avoid the snares of the devil in this most important area.

Since the subject of financial support for the Christian worker is such a foundational issue, it is surprising that there is not an abundance of literature dealing with the subject from a New Testament perspective. However, this seems to be the case. Researching for this paper consisted of digging out a short comment here, a paragraph there, and a few short articles on the subject. There are also a few men of noteworthy example in this area, such as George Müller and J. Hudson Taylor. Most of the books dealing with church finance, however, seem to discuss matters of financial support without questioning current practices in light of biblical precepts and examples. Twentieth century evangelical Christianity generally seems to operate financially either upon the basis of custom or pragmatism.

Thus because the area of financial support is so crucial to the Christian worker and because there has been a general neglect of the biblical approach to this area, there is a need for this current study on New Testament principles of financial support for the Christian worker.

Assumptions for the Study

The central assumption for this study is that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God and that it thus speaks authoritatively on the issue of financial support. A corollary assumption is that the Bible is inspired concerning what it does not say as well as concerning what it does say. In other words, the Bible is sufficient for the Christian. A seeming silence on a particular subject is not a mistake, especially if the subject is an important one. Since God has faithfully communicated to the believer all that is necessary concerning life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3 ), a seeming silence on an area of importance must in itself be intended to communicate something to the believer.

A further assumption, stemming from the above assumptions, is that the Bible is the believer’s rule for faith and for practice. This means that the examples of Scripture as well as the precepts of Scripture must be sought to be followed, especially when the examples reflect underlying principles of faith. This is especially applicable to the subject of financial support.

It should also be pointed out that the term “Christian worker” is used in this thesis to refer to any person engaged in the Christian ministry, whether a pastor, a professor at a Christian school, a missionary or evangelist, or any other type of worker, whether in the United States or in a foreign country. The principles discussed herein should be equally binding upon all Christian workers, no matter where their geographic sphere of labor may be.