Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are some questions that I’ve gotten over the years of my ministry and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: I see in the AJC that one of the Atlanta area’s “mega churches” is again hosting “The 39th Annual Cathedral Antiques Show And Sale” at their location in Atlanta, with proceeds to benefit an organization that works for the self-empowerment of girls. Although the cause might be good, this seems like a semi-commercial enterprise at best. What do you think? — Sandra.
Dear Sandra: To be honest, not much. First of all, the Bible clearly teaches us that all of the church’s activities are to be paid for out of the freely given tithes and offerings of its members … not from commercial activities. When the church sponsors commercial activities, even when the cause is good, the message it is sending to the community and to unbelievers, is this, “our church thinks this is a great cause, but not great enough for God’s people to fully support alone to the level that we think is needed. The God we worship is inadequate, he needs the help of the ‘non-churched people’ in the community.”
I know many will disagree, but for this reason alone I am opposed even to things like “community car washes and community flea markets” to benefit activities of the church. This church would be much better off to annually budget a generous gift from its budget under “benevolences,” for this cause.
Secondly, churches, due to the fact that they have a tax exempt status granted by the government, should not compete with commercial enterprises, To do so is wrong and unfair to the commercial enterprises that must pay taxes.
Thirdly, Jesus clearly defined his mission on earth in places like Luke 4:18-19. He tells us that “he has been anointed by the Holy Spirit” to preach the good news, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, To paraphrase, Jesus says that he came to preach the gospel of salvation, deliver (rescue and set free) those held in bondage by Satan, heal men’s bodies, souls and spirits and declare a new way for mankind to be reconciled to God … his own blood. When Jesus left the earth to return to heaven, he assigned this same mission to his followers and to his church. I believe that everything the church does should in some way fall under one or more of these mission statements. If it doesn’t, the church shouldn’t be doing it.
Dear Father Paul: Are dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible? — Shannon (age 10).
Dear Shannon: The closest the Bible comes is the “leviathan” mentioned in Job 41:15-32. The dictionary defines a leviathan as a huge and colossal aquatic reptile. This creature is also mentioned in other places in the Bible including Isaiah.
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Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is Evangelical, Sacramental and Charismatic…all three streams of the ancient, historic New Testament Church…together…in one church. Visitors are most welcome. More info., service times and directions are at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com.