another report on this site, one of the "props" mentioned as
holding up the Biblical counseling movement was that of charging fees.
Also mentioned briefly were the words simony and simoniac.
An accurate understanding of these two terms suggest that the Biblical
counseling movement is mired in the sin of simony. Additionally, the
leaders in the movement are reluctant to condemn the practice of charging
fees and to name organizations and individuals involved.
We want to make it clear once more that, according to I Cor 9:7-14 and other verses, the person who ministers can be supported, but the person who ministers cannot charge. The support for one who ministers is produced by those who voluntarily contribute and should never be mandated for Biblical counseling.
There is no Biblical precedent for the one who ministers to charge for ministry. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul or any other disciple in the Bible charging? Is there anywhere in the entire Bible that would condone such a practice?
Those who support the charging of fees for Biblical counseling must by analogy be in favor of charging fees for communion, prayers, funerals, graveside services, hospital and home visits, marriage ceremonies, baptisms, worship services, Bible classes and other ministries. In fact, those who favor fee-for-service Biblical counseling no doubt favor a "menu" approach to church ministries with the fees for such services listed. If the fee-for-service Biblical counselors would object to such a fee-for-service "menu," how can they justify charging for Biblical counseling?
The term simony is derived from Acts 8 and refers to Simon the sorcerer, who tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit he saw working through the Apostles (Acts 8:14-20). The New Catholic Encyclopedia states:
The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia defines it as follows: "Simony, in CANON LAW, buying or selling of any spiritual benefit for a temporal consideration." Part of the definition from Bakerís Dictionary of Theology is "the charging of fees for benefits which may be received through the administration of word and sacrament."
Because Simon offered to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from the Apostles, some have said that simony involves only the buying of something spiritual and does not involve the selling of it.
In response to this, Thomas Aquinas has said:
Some early ecclesiastical writers distinguished between simony as buying and giezia as selling. However, the various dictionaries and encyclopedias we consulted included both buying and selling in their definitions of simony.
In defending his own definition of simony, Aquinas said:
John Wyclif in his work On Simony mentions another writer (William of Peraldus, bishop of Lyons) who called simony spiritual sodomy. Wyclif said:
Wyclif also said:
In concluding one of his sections on simony, Wyclif said:
Some of the early writers on simony emphasized that both the buyer and seller are guilty of simony. It may be that those who pay for Biblical counseling are as guilty of simony as those who charge.
The answers to the following two questions are critical:
Our answer to both questions is yes. We realize that some will disagree with our calling charging fees for ministry simony, but hopefully all those who truly know the Bible will agree that charging for ministry is clearly unbiblical.
* This report has been excerpted and/or adapted from an article by the same name in the September-October 1997 PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter (PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110).
Biblical Discernment Ministries - 12/97