Blog Archives

Should Pastors Have Guaranteed Jobs?

Many United Methodists are concerned about General Conference’s decision to end guaranteed appointments for pastors.  It will create certain challenges for bishops, but overall I support the policy change:  Fewer churches are able to support full-time pastors, and a guaranteed job can make pastors complacent.  And really, how many in our congregations have guaranteed jobs? 

I believe a lesson from early American history is in order here. Back in the colonial days, some states funded certain denominations.  The Episcopal Church was funded by Virginia.  The Congregationalist Church was funded by Massachusetts.  Their pastors had good job security.  The Methodist pastors in early America did not have guaranteed jobs.  If pastors wanted to feed their families, they had to grow their congregations or work a second job usually both).  The non-state supported churches grew and expanded, while the state supported churches declined.

Sure, this isn’t 1609, but maybe this is a blessing in disguise.

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Justice and Public Shame

This is not an isolated incident – judges in several states are using public shaming as part of the sentence.  Thieves are forced to carry a sign in front of a stores. Other convicted criminals carry signs with them wherever they go.  Others have to take out ads detailing their crimes.  A convicted murderer, in addition to serving time, was forced to carry a picture of the victim.  

Some have called this excessive, others compare it to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘scarlet letter.’ 

Some, including the judges who hand down these sentences, defend this practice, saying it is a form of justice as well as a crime deterrent.  Is this biblical justice?  In the Old Testament law we do see public spitting as a form of public disgrace — usually for adultery, divorce, or not caring for a brother’s widow.   In some cases the offender was banned from the camp for a period of isolation. 

Is public shame a just punishment for crime? 

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Md. Lottery Officials: Winning Ticket Unclaimed

Lottery ticket sales are big business, and proceeds from the Maryland Lottery support services and programs such as education, public health and public safety.  What could possibly be wrong with this? 

Scripture does not explicitly oppose gambling, but are there biblical principles that could apply here? Consider the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:16) for an example biblical stewardship.  Another question to consider: Is gambling a personal matter, or are we responsible social effects?  Studies have linked gambling to addiction, poverty and crime, but does that make purchasing a lottery ticket a bad thing?  Lottery tickets are a path to quick riches (for the one-in-176 million), but where else might this path lead? (1 Timothy 6:7–10

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