Did Jesus and Paul Harp on Money Matters?
MISREPRESENTATION seems to be the stock in trade of some clergymen. Thus Malcom Watson of the Lake Park Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Florida, when asked by the budget committee of his congregation to speak on money matters accused both Jesus and Paul of harping on money matters. Naming the collection plate “the proper result of religion,” he went on to say:
“‘After building on the resurrection of Christ, the resurrection of the believer and the glorified life in heaven,’ Paul went straight on to the next point with: ‘Now, concerning the collection.’ ‘Don’t ever divide them. They belong together. . . . Jesus must have bored His listeners stiff much of the time. Listen, you can still hear their echo . . . “He ought to be talking about religion and here He is mentioning money again.”’”—Orlando Evening Star, November 15, 1954.
However, in spite of what Watson may claim there is not a shred of evidence that Jesus ever uttered a single word about taking up collections, about needing money to support his ministry. As for Paul’s reference to collections, first of all note that Paul concluded his argument on the resurrection, not with an appeal for money, but for unselfish service: “Consequently, my beloved brothers, become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.”—1 Cor. 15:58, NW.
Then, clearly beginning a new subject, he wrote, “Now concerning the collection.” So, in the first place, Paul did not tie in the subject of taking collections with the resurrection. And secondly, this was not a collection taken in the congregation but each one was to lay aside something on the first day of the week in his own home. And thirdly, it was not for Paul’s salary or for the salary of others or for upkeep of the congregation but for the needy congregations at Jerusalem and in Judea, which were in dire straits because of persecution.—1 Cor. 16:1-3, NW.
Obviously the pastor of the Lake Park Presbyterian Church has misrepresented both Jesus and Paul, it being a case of greed and dishonesty going hand in hand. It might also be observed that it does not speak favorably for the religious literacy of his congregation when he can dare to foist such glaring misrepresentations upon them.