My brother’s house
West Palm Beach, FL
The fifth motive is apostolicity, a word Sorg uses to refer to the “personal character and spirit of the twelve Apostles,” and not necessarily to “the official functions of their ministry.” Sorg’s most frequent example is St. Paul, who refused to take money for his ministry because he didn’t want to burden his converts (his “children”) and “to prove the genuineness of his apostleship by preaching the Gospel gratis in the pure charity of Christ.” This reminds me of something the great preacher John Wesley once said: “If I die with more than ten pounds in my pocket, may every man call me a liar and a thief.”
I had a brief conversation on this topic with my brother, a worship pastor in West Palm Beach. I asked my brother simply: “Do you find it interesting that the apostle Paul boasted so often [at least nine times] that he supported himself with his hands?” After accusing me good-naturedly (I think) of questioning his salary – which I wasn’t, or not seriously – my brother said, yes, he did find it interesting. But he also said that Paul did occasionally ask for some money for his ministry and that the epistle of Romans was, in fact, a support letter. My brother also said that priests in the Old Testament were in the full-time paid employ of the temple. He didn’t offer any specific verses, but he may very well be right. If I was more interested in this particular principle, I’d do some research on my own. But I’m not that interested. I won’t deny a hardworking minister his wages. And neither would Dom Rembert:
Although there was no obligation in the matter – rather, on the contrary, there was a perfect Gospel right to live by the altar – nevertheless the idea of working for one’s own support and of not exacting pay for spiritual ministry, as far as circumstances would allow, was a manifestation of genuine apostolic spirit.
The early monks fostered this spirit jealously and the facts of church history show that it equipped them for doing apostolic work, for they exerted powerful missionary influence in the propagation of Christianity.