I (all about me) like it when discussions of spiritual matters include material causes. Calvinism isn’t just an idea (or five of them), but it is a form of western Christian that emerged at a specific time and place and its social location is part of Reformed Protestantism’s DNA (ever heard someone complain that Calvinism is too white, male, and suburban?). George Whitefield was not merely an evangelist but a person who had theatrical training and could really punch “Mesopotamia” so that the women fainted (which made the children cry).
So when Carl Trueman complained about the economic factors that contribute to the creation of an elite group of pastors and theologians who have an outsized influence in Protestant circles thanks to finances, I liked the point. If you can show that someone’s authority has at least something to do with their material standing rather than divine unction, then you have reason to follow your gut and take them with less seriousness.
But here’s the thing: if you look at the finances, the influence is disproportionate. Here are some sample numbers (gleaned primarily from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and Guidestar):
2015 Mission to the World (PCA): $65 million+ revenues; $54 million+ expenses
2014 Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: $287k+ revenues; $187k+ expenses
2015 Gospel Coalition: $2.6 million+ revenues; $2.2 million+ expenses
2015 Good News Publishing (Crossway, parent company [?] of Gospel Coalition): $17 million+ revenues; $15 million+ expenses
2014 Committee on Foreign Missions (OPC) budget: $1.6 million+
Judging by the wealth, CBMW’s influence is breathtaking (if you follow that sort of thing).
Also, judging by the numbers, the PCA’s foreign missionaries should be the topic of every other blog post by the folks who spin mortification.
I agree with Carl when he says:
My earlier questions — ‘How did these men get to such positions of far-reaching influence? Who appointed them to speak for me? How do we get rid of them if they go astray?’ – are the pertinent ones.
But since social media is cheap and the way these days to create a brand and gain a following, perhaps the better question is why Mission to the World and the OPC’s Committee on Foreign Missions aren’t creating a blog with regular contributions from their personnel.