RC Sproul Jr, for whom I have had a good deal of respect (though I'm unsure whether it's warranted), biffs it:
RCSJr: Were we motivated by God's glory alone our biggest concern about Steve Furtick would not be the square footage of his house.
ME: It's legitimate to be concerned with both. :-)
I am quite concerned that a pastor be qualified, and someone who lives in a huge mansion is going to have a hard time having a good reputation with outsiders, for one thing.
A pastor above all should take care about his appearance because he is the most obvious representative of the Gospel that many people see.
A pastor above all should eschew the apperance of overt wealth for that reason.
A large income is not the problem. Spending it on yourself is.
RCSJr: So Rho are you saying that having the appearance of wealth is having the appearance of evil? You are saying that having the appearance of wealth causes one to lose his good reputation? Is it possible for a believer to have a bad reputation with those outside the church, and still be qualified? I'm familiar with the text, and it certainly is true. But we need to understand what it is saying. If it is saying, "People in the world can't complain about you" then Jesus is not qualified. I would suggest that it actually means "People in the world can't legitimately complain about you." So, for instance, a man who doesn't pay his bills, or is unfaithful to his wife might legitimately have a bad reputation with the world around him. A man who has a big house, or who disapproves of sexual perversion, or abortion, might have a bad reputation with the world. But since he has done nothing wrong, it is actually persecution for righteousness sake, not disqualification for office. Hope that helps.
Finally Rho, where in the Bible does it say a man can't buy a big house for himself?
ME: Hello brother RC,
\\having the appearance of wealth is having the appearance of evil?\\
Pastors are supposedly men who love the next world more than they love the pleasures of this one. If a pastor is spending a whole lot of money on himself, what will outsiders think? They'll think he loves money, and they'll think hey doesn't Jesus say something about denying yourself and taking up your cross and all that? It hinders and doesn't help. So yes.
\\You are saying that having the appearance of wealth causes one to lose his good reputation?\\
In the eyes of quite a few, yes. I can't count how many times ppl have argued against the Gospel with "look at those rich preachers" with me personally.
\\ If it is saying, "People in the world can't complain about you" then Jesus is not qualified. \\
That's not what it's saying, as you well know.
\\I would suggest that it actually means "People in the world can't legitimately complain about you."\\
And we're not supposed to love the things of this world. Like 16K sq ft houses.
\\where in the Bible does it say a man can't buy a big house for himself?\\
The same place it says "God is a Trinity". That a PASTOR IN PARTICULAR ought to eschew such is an obvious inference from the numerous passages that warn us against loving wealth and seeking pleasures of this world.
RCSJr: Rho, how many square feet does a house have to have to be a thing of this world? And if pastors are not to have nice things, are non-pastors allowed to have nice things? If I invented a cure for cancer could how many square feet am I allowed to have? If I decide then to become a pastor, how much smaller of a house must I change to? In addition, am I allowed to marry a beautiful wife? Is that a "thing of this world?" Should pastors only marry ugly women, to prove to scoffers that their pleasures are in the next world? Now, suppose I move to Africa. Suppose I, having cured cancer, and earning billions in the marketplace, but having now become a missionary, may I have a 1000 square foot house, with running water, internet, electricity, even though my wealth might upset my unbelieving neighbors, or make them, who have none of these things, think I love the things of this world? I'm afraid your additions to the law of God here are not only unbiblical but unworkable. It is a bad thing to lust after money. It is a bad thing to depend on money. It is a bad thing to proudly display money, to see it as some sort of accomplishment to be proud of. It is not, however, a bad thing to earn money. And it is a wicked thing to fail to give thanks to God for all that he provides.
ME: \\how many square feet does a house have to have to be a thing of this world\\
I think that is a lot like asking how much cleavage has to be shown to be porn.
I don't have an answer but I know one family does not need 16k sq ft. Do you disagree?
\\ And if pastors are not to have nice things, are non-pastors allowed to have nice things?\\
I didn't say "no nice things". But pastors ought to pay VERY close attention.
Pastors are biblically held to a higher standard, so that's why.
\\If I decide then to become a pastor, how much smaller of a house must I change to?\\
I don't know but I should think that RETAINING a 16k sq ft house that one already had would be more defensible than BUILDING one once a pastor.
\\ Should pastors only marry ugly women, to prove to scoffers that their pleasures are in the next world?\\
1) It's not only scoffers. Real people have these issues with big rich fat cat pastors.
2) Who would deride someone for marrying a beautiful woman? Do you really know someone like that?
\\may I have a 1000 square foot house, with running water, internet, electricity, even though my wealth might upset my unbelieving neighbors, or make them, who have none of these things, think I love the things of this world?\\
Yes, the inevitable Africa argument. I don't think it's a good argument, however. Humans are a specific size and shape. 1000 sq ft is not excessive for one family. 16k is.
\\I'm afraid your additions to the law of God here are not only unbiblical but unworkable.\\
I don't believe I am adding to the law of God. I have referred to Jesus' and James' words on wealth and the qualis for pastors in Titus and 1 Tim.
\\It is a bad thing to depend on money.\\
But mansions are totally fine?
I don't understand what you're arguing here.
\\It is a bad thing to proudly display money, to see it as some sort of accomplishment to be proud of.\\
16,000 square feet!
Thousand! That's a lot.
\\It is not, however, a bad thing to earn money\\
Brother, EARNING money is not the issue here. SPENDING gobs of money on a HUGE HOUSE is the issue here.
RCSJr: Wish I knew how to do all that formatting you are doing. I don't know any families that need 16000 sq ft. But then I don't take the position that one can only have what one needs. You do. Since you are taking that position, it is incumbent on you to tell us how we can draw the right conclusions. If you take the porn, "you know it when you see it" approach, what do we do about that fact that me, and Mr. Furtick do not see it, but you do? You are going to judge him for how he spends his money? When did Mr. Furtick become big and fat? And a cat? And why are those bad things. You seem to suggest that it is a sin to be rich. Then you fail to see my point on Africa. Rich is a relative term. Would it be right for Africans to look down their noses at you because you have more sq ft per person than they do, very likely the gap between you and they is greater than the gap between you and Furtick? That is, a ten foot by ten foot shack, for a family of five in Africa provides 20 sq ft per person. If you are in a 1700 square foot home and have 5 people, that is 340 sq ft per person, 17 times as much. A 16,000 square foot home with 5 people affords 3200 sq st a person, less than 10 times more than the 1700 foot house.
ME: I just add \\ (above the Enter key) before and after, to point out the point I'm replying to in stepwise fashion. Nothing fancy.
I disagree but I think the conversation has run its course. In all sincerity, thank you for your time and thoughts, and I pray God's blessings on you.
RCSJr: Depending on money is a matter of the heart. It can be done by a guy in a shack, or a guy in a mansion. Displaying wealth can be done by a guy in a shack, or a guy in a mansion. But, if you give thanks for God's provision for your labors, pay your tithes, then no man can rightly judge you, whether you are in a shack or a mansion. Jesus' and James' warnings were directed against those who trust in their wealth, who make it their security, who are not grateful to God. But the Bible has plenty of godly men who were profoundly wealthy, and who enjoyed the wealth God gave them. And all of us, in eternity, will be immeasurably wealthy, living in mansions on streets of gold. That friend, means having wealth is not bad..
ME: \\having wealth is not bad..\\
RCSJr: Finally, the point about ugly women you sidestepped. Who would deride someone for having a beautiful wife? The same people who would deride someone for being worldly simply because they have a large house. Beauty, like wealth, is fleeting. If having one is proof that you are guilty of overvaluing them, or enough to make you look guilty before the world in such a way as to disqualify you from the ministry, then the same is true of the other.
ME: Do you think you or the Scripure would have anything to say to a pastor who lives in a 60,000 sq ft house and owns 9 Rolls Royce's and drives them himself?
RCSJr: No. All things being equal, depending on howGod has blessed him, no. Why?
ME: It seriously would not disturb you to find a pastor who spent $10 million on a house and $1 million on cars for his own personal benefit and comfort? This is not about whether God has blessed him with that kind of wealth. This is about how he chose to spend it - on his own pleasures instead of the immense good he could've done toward practicing pure and undefined religion. Has not such a man already received his reward in full?
RCSJr: Rho, it seriously would not, not if he earned the money, paid his tithe etc. I don't believe in adding law to God's Word. If God would not judge him, I aspire to not judge him as well. Feel free to jack it up to a 600,000 foot house that costs a billion, and it won't change a thing.
ME: James 4:17 - Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
I would certainly advise the good brother that, when confronted by an obviously ridiculous example like my last one, it's not a good idea to double down.