7.4.06

"Don't Tithe" - A response to Christianity Magazine

Trevor mentioned in a post a few days ago how an article brandishing tithing as "unbiblical" appeared in Christianity magazine.

A member of our cellgroup asked me for my opinion of the article, and lent me a copy of the magazine. I thought I would post my response on my blog for the benefit of all my readers.

I have read the article thoroughly and examined all the scripture references used. The author basically makes 11 main points in his article outlined below.

1. I'd have to sell my son on eBay to be able to tithe
2. People in the "word of faith" movement believe in tithing
3. Tithing was only a command for agricultural workers
4. Tithing was not required every seventh year
5. Other Old Testament laws no longer apply
6. Jesus has fulfilled the law so we don't have to follow it
7. New Testament references to tithing were not addressed to Christians
8. The instances of tithing before the Law do not establish a general requirement to tithe
9. Periods of tithing in church history have been sporadic - the early church did not tithe
10. Tithing is not biblical
11. Tithing is legalistic and hence stunts maturity

I shall address each point in turn.

Point 1: I'd have to sell my son on eBay to be able to tithe

If we overlook the flippancy of this remark, and give the author the benefit of the doubt, what he is really saying is that he doesn't have enough money to balance his budget and so the tithe has to go. He actually puts the article into a personal context of where he has recently had to reduce his giving to the church that he leads.

This is an excuse rather than an argument. You always have enough for the things you value. There are people in the same situations as us, who only get paid 90% or less of the income we do, and get by fine. They make adjustments, because they have to. You can learn to live on 90% quite easily whatever financial pressures that come your way.

By saying the tithe has to go, you have revealed that the other expenditures on your budget are valued more highly.


Point 2: People in the "word of faith" movement believe in tithing

I'm not going to be drawn on this one. Despite the objections that proponents of the 'word of faith' theology generate, not even their fiercest critics can assert they have it all wrong. This is a clear example of an ad hominem argument, where the attempt is to discredit a statement based on the nature of the people who propose it. As such it is a cheap shot, and not worthy of any more time in response.


Point 3: Tithing was only a command for agricultural workers

Not in my Bible! Where does he get this from? I have examined all the passages of scripture he quotes and can find no such statement. I have also looked at all the verses in the Bible where "tithe" or "tenth" is mentioned, again nothing.

All I can think is that he is referring to the fact that the tithe is frequently mentioned in terms of crops or animals. But this is a theme that runs all through the Bible. Is it only agricultural workers who are blessed in Dt28? Is it only agricultural workers who are provided for? Is God himself only an agricultural worker because he only owns the cattle on a thousand hills?

This is reading between the lines, something that is not there. Numbers 18:26 says that the Levites were to collect the tithe from "the people of Israel," no qualification is given.


Point 4: Tithing was not required every seventh year

Strangely enough this verse is missing from my version of the Bible too!

I guess he is implying that since the tithe was described in terms of crops, and the Israelites were commanded to leave their fields fallow every seventh year they would have no crops to tithe. This is a very different argument than saying they were exempt from tithing. Their animals would still give birth during the Sabbath years, and there is nothing to say that they were exempt from the tithe in this year.

This is clutching at straws, and is a very poor and tenuous reason to imply that "Tithing was never a universal principle."


Point 5: Other Old Testament laws no longer apply

I will try to curb my vexation over this one. Anyone who knows me at all will know what a dim view I take on this argument.

Basically his argument boils down to: "Deuteronomy says we should tithe, but it also says we should stone blasphemers. We don't stone blasphemers, so why should we tithe?" In one fell swoop, his Bible has just become one book lighter!

Jesus himself quoted from Deuteronomy and gave no indication that its authority was diminished. In fact when he was tempted in the wilderness every response he gave came from the book of Deuteronomy. The Devil missed a trick if he didn't realise Jesus was quoting from an obsolete book, and the implication that Jesus himself was misapplying the scriptures is absurd!

As I have said before, we cannot just dismiss any book or command of God, just on the basis of where it comes in the redemptive history of man. Each must be taken on their own merit on the basis of how they transfer to the new covenant in the light of Christ and his work on our behalf.


Point 6: Jesus has fulfilled the law so we don't have to follow it

Yes, Jesus has fulfilled the law so we don't have to follow it. But again, to turn the argument on its head, the reason we don't have to follow the law is because Jesus has fulfilled it. It is easy to see how the sacrifices are no longer necessary, because Christ is our sacrifice, once for all. Circumcision is no longer necessary, because the cutting off of the flesh is no longer done by the hands of man, but by the Spirit, and the fulfilment is found in baptism, and thus we could go through all the laws and legal requirements and show how Christ has fulfilled them for us.

But how has he fulfilled tithing? As I have explained in a previous post in some detail, I really don't buy the dispensational notion that all the commands of God given during the Mosaic Law are a package deal that was just for a period of time. It doesn't fit with 2Ti 3:16 at all.


Point 7: New Testament references to tithing were not addressed to Christians

This is a really poor argument. Alarm bells always start ringing in my ears when someone tries to discount New Testament teaching on the basis of who the words were addressed to. If you can only accept the words of Christ that are addressed to Christians, then you would have to cut out everything before John 20!

We must remember that all the New Testament books were written by Christians for Christians, for the purpose of instructing Christians in their Christian faith.

This argument really does not hold water! If theologies that dismiss sections of the Old Testament get me wound up, those that attempt to ignore sections of the New.... (let's move on swiftly!)


Point 8: The instances of tithing before the Law do not establish a general requirement to tithe

This is the point I have the most sympathy with. I think it is true to a certain extent. The instances of tithing before the Law are in isolation insufficient to establish the principle of tithing.

However once one has accepted the principle of tithing, it is natural to follow the principle back to its source. These pre-law instances convey valuable truth on the "heart" rather than just the "requirement" of tithing. I don't think anyone could argue it was just coincidence that Abraham and Jacob gave a tenth and it was totally unrelated to the principle of tithing established in the law.


Point 9: The periods of tithing in church history have been sporadic - the early church did not tithe

The belief in justification by faith has also been sporadic. Anyone want to write an article that the Reformers got it wrong?

As for the statement "the early church did not tithe," here is a quote from the Didache, the earliest non-canonical Christian writing:


But every prophet who wants to live among you is worthy of his support. So also a true teacher is himself worthy, as the workman, of his support. Every first-fruit, therefore, of the products of wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and of sheep, you shall take and give to the prophets, for they are your high priests. But if you have no prophet, give it to the poor. If you make a batch of dough, take the first-fruit and give according to the commandment. So also when you open a jar of wine or of oil, take the first-fruit and give it to the prophets; and of money (silver) and clothing and every possession, take the first-fruit, as it may seem good to you, and give according to the commandment.


It is clear in this document, that the early church did indeed give the first portion of their goods to support the ministries in their midst, "according to the commandments" of the Old Testament. Now because tithe is not mentioned, you could argue that this portion might not have been a tenth. But what else would it have been? Tithes and first-fruits are closely related in the word anyway, and may actually be one and the same. (Matthew, care to comment? - also, what do you think about the practice of giving the first glass of every bottle of wine to the prophets? ;-))

[Incidentally the Didache also reveals that the early church still recognised the ministries of apostle and prophet... but that's another debate!]


Point 10: Tithing is not biblical

This statement beggars belief! Something cannot be both "a clear command in the Old Testament" and "unbiblical" unless the Old Testament is no longer in your Bible!


Point 11: Tithing is legalistic and hence stunts maturity

Are all the commands of God to be viewed this way? Is it legalistic to get baptised? Is it legalistic to break bread? Is it legalistic to do what God says because he has said it?

The author of this article seems to be proposing that it is better to sacrifice freely than to obey a command of God. This is precisely the opposite to what my Bible says! (1Sa 15:21)

I will let the author himself have the last word.


Most Christians don't need freedom from tithing - or even freedom from the guilt of not tithing - they need freedom from consumerism.

Money is the clear and present danger, par excellence, for all Christians in the west. An absorbing materialism and stupefying consumerism which diverts our energies, twists our morality, distorts our understanding and renders impotent our faith. We dare not 'move on' from tithing without 'moving into' a more truly holistic and biblical approach to money. Anything less is to run headlong into a greater slavery.


It is a great shame that in tearing into tithing, he offers no indication to what this alleged "more truly holistic and biblical approach to money" might be. Tithing may seem like foolishness to some, but it is God's foolishness. Do we really think we know better?

16 comments:

Matthew said...

Chris, as you asked me to comment I will.

If the first glass from the bottle was a tenth, it would be quite a small glass!

Good response, BTW!

Suemitch said...

Matthew, when you consider the number of people in our congregation and the number of bottles of wine opened each week.. is that really going to end up being a small amoung? ;-)

Chris, excellent post. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to teaching.

Elwyn Jones said...

Just another comment from another christian Chris!
You have done a good job explaining your opinion to your cell group members on that article on tithing.
Unfortunately there are many christians out there who have received bad teaching about tithing,I count myself as one of them. In one of your recent blogs you encourage us all to study for ourselves the word of God, the Bible.(2 ti 2:15)(2ti3 :16)
Sometimes we will discover things that will contradict the teaching we have received.
There is only one occasion in the N.T., where our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ tells anyone to tithe (matt 23,23-24)But it was in the context of rebuking the scribes and pharisees,calling them hypocrites!.
They were obeying the Mosaic law of tithing but Jesus of Nazareth,the son of God was not impressed.
In my study of tithing I have come across certain facts that affect my understanding of the christian tithing doctrine that I was taught.
and like your cell group member we end up asking questions.
You did the honourable thing and answered those questions, but not all bible teachers are like you and mr lloyd.There are many who become frighten of tough questions. You are not like that!
We all mention Abraham when it comes to tithing (before the law)But Abraham never tithed on his own personal property or livestock.

Jacob wouldn't tithe until God blessed him first.

Only levite priests could collect tithes,and there are no levite priests today.

Only food products from the land were tithable.

Money was never a titheable commodity.

Christian converts were never asked to tithe anything to the church.

Tithing in the church first appeared centuries after the completion of the Bible.

Incidently this is nothing to do with dispensation teaching and I am glad I am not of a dispensation
persuasion because it is obvious that you have many concerns with this teaching the same as I with the charismatic persuasion of the christian church, but mr lloyd tells us both "don't throw the baby out with the bath water".

If we believe tithing is for today do we go back to duet 12 and 14 to apply the principle?

Chris HH said...

Elwyn,
Thank you for your comment, and your kind words. You are right that whatever we believe, we must be able to defend from the word of God.

Regarding Mt 23:23-24, you are right that Jesus was rebuking the pharisees, but it should be obvious from the passage that he was not rebuking them for tithing! It was their hypocrisy of observing the letter of the law to the minutiae whilst overlooking the most basic elements of the spirit of the law that annoyed him.

Jesus himself commanded people to obey the law: Mt 19:17. Zechariah was chosen by God as a righteous man "walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord". So the notion that Jesus was anti-tithing or anti-law is absurd.

In fact if Jesus was anti-tithing, or if it was just a foreshadow of a new covenant reality, or even if it was just an empty ritual which was meant to convey a spiritual truth they had overlooked, then he was presented with a golden opportunity to bring a correction here. He took such opportunities over other issues like divorce, adultery, and revenge, but what does our Lord say about tithing?

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."

Tithing may not be the most important command that we have from God. We certainly cannot expect to gain favour with God by tithing if our lives are not right before him... but a command of God is a command of God, and as Jesus clearly expresses - it is not to be neglected!

Elwyn Jones said...

Hi Chris
Our Lord Jesus tells the pharisees that they are over-emphasising tithing and under emphasising justice. We both agree with that! But the passage does not imply that the tithe is binding on N.T. believers.Tithing at that time was still a proper duty not to be neglected by those trying to fulfill the Mosaic Law as the pharisees were. Again in Luke 18,12-14 the Pharisee said I fast twice a week,I give a tenth of all my income but the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying God be merciful to me, a sinner. I tell you, this man went home justified rather than the other etc.These two verses in the context of mentioning tithing are negative. Again in Acts 15 no mention of tithing or the practice of tithing for gentile believers in any of the epistles either.

The point i am trying to make is,has a baby christian i was taught that we must tithe, it was compulsory, a command of God. If we didn't tithe we were robbing God, and that teaching can not be proven from Scripture,it was wrong.
However if anyone finds 10% a useful percentage in planning their giving they do so unto God. But no one should feel that they are under a law or being judged by others. We give from a grateful and thankful heart crying out thanks to our wonderful God, Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We may disagree on many issues Brother but I am most grateful to you because you have acted with grace, kindness and good manners in replying to me. My common language hinders me in my ability to express my self like you do.

I will not press a point beyond what the evidence i have offered and my conviction allows.

So until next time brother may God bless you and your lovely family

Ian McNaught said...

Thankyou for this excellent, thorough and scriptural response Chris. If you haven't done so already, can I suggest you send a copy of this to the magazines editor?

Chris HH said...

Thanks, Ian. Just sent an email to the feedback address.

Dave said...

Chris, thank you for that - reading his article really got me hot and bothered as I couldn't believe what I was reading. But then reading your reply made all that go away and my temperature is back to normal haha.

Great reply, I only hope that the origianl author of the article reads it.

See you soon, love to Mrs and Master HH

Mark Robins said...

Dear Chris,

I’ve read your articles with great interest, and although I am not a proponent of tithing I do believe in Christian giving, which I believe is a more accurate term for the New Covenant believer.
That said as I have already mentioned on a related link if one desires to give ten percent or fifty percent that is between that person and God. You have mentioned 2 Timothy 3:16 as a principle not to throw all of the OT principles away as presumably they still apply to us today, although I would agree with you up to a point, it can become very difficult to separate what does apply and what doesn’t (in fact a bit of a minefield I believe). It would appear that Jesus thought along the same line in trying to simplify things by stating in Matthew 22:37 “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets”
The Old Testament develops and amplifies these two points: love for God and love for others, if we think carefully about this we can see why out of love is how God wants us to serve Him and His flock the church, that’s why I believe it should be a freewill offering done with gladness of heart anything else I believe becomes legalistic (fear based works to please God). Read also Romans 13:8—10. I say this from personal experience when people in our fellowship withheld their tithe for financial reasons, they often felt condemned (they were robbing God). I even heard it suggested that a particular person on income benefit wouldn’t get out of their financial predicament unless they kept tithing so that God could bless them, that is legalism to a tee!
Even in the issue of taking up an offering for fellow believers who were in financial difficulty Paul make this statement: 2 Corinthians 8:12 “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” It can be very difficult to give when one is in financial difficulty, and it’s easy to say “trust God” when one is prosperous. But as it can be shown from scripture even Paul had his moments of poverty, what he said is that we should rejoice in what ever condition we find ourselves and also to be content with what we have “contentment with godliness is great gain”.
That said, when we look into scripture about tithing Abraham tithed before the law, as you have rightly said this is not a good example of tithing, otherwise we should expect to pay a one off payment of ten percent and that’s all! This is obviously not a good place to prove the principle or doctrine of tithing.
One of the only places that you can find out what you are to do with your ten percent or the actual commandment of tithing is…
Deuteronomy 14:22-23 (God's commandment to the Israelites)
THE FIRST AND SECOND YEARS
[22] You shall truly tithe all the increase... year by year.
[23] And YOU SHALL EAT before the Lord your God... the TITHE of your grain and your new wine... that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.
(See also Deuteronomy 12:5-7; 12:10-12; 12:17-19)
Deuteronomy 14:24-26 (God's commandment to the Israelites)
[24] But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the TITHE...
[25] then you shall exchange it for money...
[26] And YOU SHALL SPEND THAT MONEY for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; YOU SHALL EAT there before the Lord your God and you shall rejoice, YOU AND YOUR HOUSEHOLD.
The above scriptures are COMMANDMENTS OF GOD concerning tithing.
The Israelites were supposed to take their tithes to the appointed place of worship and EAT THEM there before the Lord, rejoicing, TOGETHER with their families, their servants and their local Levites.
In other words, God has commanded them to come into His presence from time to time and to have some fun!
One thing is important to remember: the Israelites WERE NOT REQUIRED TO LEAVE ANY PORTION OF THEIR TITHES at the appointed place of worship - the tithes were supposed to be consumed in an atmosphere of celebration, sharing and communion with God. This applied to the first two years of each three year cycle.
THE THIRD YEAR - THE YEAR OF TITHING
Deuteronomy 14:27-29 (God's commandment to the Israelites)
[27] You shall not forsake the Levite...
[28] At the end of EVERY THIRD YEAR you shall bring the TITHE of your produce of THAT YEAR and store it up WITHIN YOUR GATES.
[29] And the LEVITE... and the FATHERLESS and the WIDOW... may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may BLESS YOU in all the work of your hand which you do.
Deuteronomy 26:12 (God's commandment to the Israelites)
[12] When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase IN THE THIRD YEAR - THE YEAR OF TITHING - and have given it to the LEVITE, the STRANGER, the FATHERLESS and the WIDOW, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled...
God has not forgotten those whom He has called into His ministry. He has allocated to them a sufficient portion: on average about ONE THIRD OF TEN PERCENT of an ordinary Israelite's income.
The Israelites were to store one tenth of their income of every THIRD year "within your gates", instead of spending it on their family feasts. This storehouse (which was to be administered by the Levites) was where the tithes were stored to be used to provide not only for the Levites, but also for the poor and the strangers in the land of Israel.
How do we apply that to the church today?
I guess like this…
Spend ten percent of your monthly income of the two consecutive months on a feast, a holiday or some other fun with your families, or deposit it into an account for that purpose. Give ten percent of their income of the third month to their church (ministry), for the support of those who are called to minister to the believers and those who are in need. Keep repeating the three month cycle as described above. Insist that the tithes are used for the support of all those who minister in the church and that a portion is used for the support of the poor. Teach that those who are on social benefits should not tithe, and that they are actually entitled to the assistance from the churches that collect tithes, if in need.
I think it’s easier to give out a heart of love!
Party on!!

Mark Robins

Chris HH said...

Mark, thank you for your comment. I appreciate that you go to the Word for your understanding on these matters. Something we should all do.

I'd like to pick up on a couple of points.

On the question of legalism. I think this is a constant danger for us in many areas. It is too easy for something that starts out as full of life and faith to become just an empty shell of routine. Our bible reading, our prayers, our breaking of bread, our gatherings together, and even our corporate worship can all succumb to legalism and be devoid of the life that God intends... but this is never an excuse to stop doing any of these things! We should constantly examine our hearts, but do so without neglecting the good practices that keep us spiritually healthy.

On the matter of applying the Old Testament, you are right, it is a complex matter (though I wouldn't go so far as to call it a mine-field, more like a gold-mine!) This is why we should be cautious of overly simplistic solutions that try to apply it all, misapply it, or dismiss it all. The guidelines I would give are:

1) What does it tell me about Jesus? All the word is about him. God's eternal plan has always been centered on Christ. The Old Testament is thus a prophetic book, full of types and shadows of the realities that are found in Jesus.
2) What does the New Testament say on this matter? The New Testament is the best commentary on the Old. We should always read the Old Testament in the light of New Testament revelation.
3) What is the principle? Often although the requirements around the principle no longer apply, the principle still carries through.

Thus although I do believe that the principle of tithing is still applicable to New Covenant believers, I think it is clear that the principle of "being fed from God's house" conveys a deeper spiritual truth that finds its fulfilment in what we receive from God through the ministries he has blessed us with in the Church.

Every blessing.

Mark Robins said...

Hi Chris, quick reply!! To your points…

(Chris HH) I'd like to pick up on a couple of points.

On the question of legalism. I think this is a constant danger for us in many areas. It is too easy for something that starts out as full of life and faith to become just an empty shell of routine. Our bible reading, our prayers, our breaking of bread, our gatherings together, and even our corporate worship can all succumb to legalism and be devoid of the life that God intends... but this is never an excuse to stop doing any of these things! We should constantly examine our hearts, but do so without neglecting the good practices that keep us spiritually healthy.

(Mark R) I agree that to do something that is valid legalistically, is not a reason to stop doing them, what I was advocating though is that doing them out of fear is wrong, or as I have seen some fellowships doing “putting the squeeze” on people to tithe or they will loose blessings from God. What I am saying is, that giving to get something out of God is legalistic. God gave us every blessing to start with what has He withheld?

(Chris HH) On the matter of applying the Old Testament, you are right, it is a complex matter (though I wouldn't go so far as to call it a mine-field, more like a gold-mine!) This is why we should be cautious of overly simplistic solutions that try to apply it all, misapply it, or dismiss it all.

(Mark R) I guess it depends where you tread! How often have I heard Deuteronomy 28:1 to 14 quoted “I’m the head and not the tail” and all of the rest of the blessings there. But I say “keep reading” see what you get for disobedience! I don’t think that you can apply a kind of eclectic interpretation to God’s Word and just include the “good bits” in their context.

(Chris HH) The guidelines I would give are:

(1) What does it tell me about Jesus? All the word is about him. God's eternal plan has always been centered on Christ. The Old Testament is thus a prophetic book, full of types and shadows of the realities that are found in Jesus.

(Mark R) I agree whole heartedly Jesus is the Word and Jesus is God, the statement about our Lord being the same yesterday, today, and forever cannot be denied, but this is surely talking about the eternal goodness of God, His character is something you can build your life on, his dealings with people have however been different between the OT (Obedience to the Law) and the NT (obedience through love) John 14:15.

(Chris HH)
(2) What does the New Testament say on this matter? The New Testament is the best commentary on the Old. We should always read the Old Testament in the light of New Testament revelation.

(Mark R) Well the NT tells us that we should be obedient to the teachings of the Apostles of Christ, Matthew (28:8). These were, as you know codified into the NT that we now have. Hebrews 8:13.. In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. So what is it that is so different about the NT Christian as opposed to OT believer? The laws are written on our heart and makes the NT believer a Kingdom of Priests, yes we are all ministers with differing ministries, and we all have access to God directly through our High Priest Jesus. We are all in affect co-equal in the body of Christ, no one is above or closer to God than any other, yes we have elders who are required to rightly divide the word and to shepherd the flock, and if they are needed to work full time then they are worthy of a wage.
Tithing was required because of the priestly duties and social welfare of Israel, their duties were; but to name a few…
a. Keeping the charge of the tabernacle. Nu 18:1,5,7.
b. Covering the sacred things of the sanctuary before removal. Nu 4:5-15.
c. Offering sacrifices. Le 1:1-6:30; 2Ch 29:34; 35:11.
d. Lighting and trimming the lamps of the sanctuary. Ex 27:20,21; Le 24:3,4.
e. Keeping the sacred fire always burning on the altar. Le 6:12,13.
f. Burning incense. Ex 20:7,8; Lu 1:9.
g. Placing and removing show-bread. Le 24:5-9.
h. Offering first fruits. Le 23:10,11; De 26:3,4.
i. Blessing the people. Nu 6:23-27.
j. Purifying the unclean. Le 15:30,31.
k. Deciding in cases of jealousy. Nu 5:14,15.
l. Deciding in cases of leprosy. Le 13:2-59; 14:34-45.
m. Judging in cases of controversy. De 17:8-13; 21:5.
n. Teaching the law. De 33:8,10; Mal 2:7.
o. Blowing the trumpets on various occasions. Nu 10:1-10; Jos 6:3,4.
p. Carrying the ark. Jos 3:6,17; 6:12.
q. Encouraging the people when they went to war. De 20:1-4.
r. Valuing things devoted. Le 27:8.
Now my argument is this, if the Sabbath (which was a direct command of God) was to be kept on a Saturday; has been moved for no reason; other than most believe to celebrate the resurrection, why would the priestly functions that have disappeared or been fulfilled need to be financed through something as obsolete as the tithe principle which was under the law? This is why I believe there is no mention of tithing when the church was established. We all now have the Holy Spirit residing within us, and therefore an inner inclination to do what is pleasing to God (we know when we sin).

(Chris HH) (3) What is the principle? Often although the requirements around the principle no longer apply, the principle still carries through.
Thus although I do believe that the principle of tithing is still applicable to New Covenant believers, I think it is clear that the principle of "being fed from God's house" conveys a deeper spiritual truth that finds its fulfilment in what we receive from God through the ministries he has blessed us with in the Church.

(Mark R) Yes I agree, but the principle is support of those in ministry not tithing. I’m sure that I don’t need to remind you whom Gods house now is (each one of us), and it is true that each one of us is feeding off one another with our different ministries (we cant all be hands, eyes etc). But I believe that the deeper spiritual truth comes from understanding Romans 13:8-10
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery." "You shall not murder." "You shall not steal." "You shall not bear false witness." "You shall not covet." AND IF THERE IS ANY OTHER COMMANDMENT, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself."
Love does no harm to a neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.

“And if there is any other commandment..." includes the commandment on tithing, or any giving for that matter, and all of them are summed up in, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself."

Chris I’m interested to know what or where you base your tithing principle on, given what Deut 14 onward says? Do you give a full ten percent or the more scriptural pattern found there i.e. one third of ten percent to the priest/church?
I don’t really want to hammer my point home, but it seems to me that a lot of fellowships have become like the world (business empires), and as such need buckets of money; tithing then is often used as a lever to get people to give. If the people’s hearts are right they should give adequately anyway to spread a simple message like the Gospel and minister to the needy. Building huge elaborate buildings and ministers jetting off across the world to give a message, which is not so much aimed at the lost, but mainly to promote their version of what a new move of God is, and expand their empire is not what I see as being necessary and often a waste of resources. As I see it this country has more need of evangelists now than ever Africa does (actually heard that they are sending missionaries to us!) Never the less what ever way we give is I believe of a secondary issue, the main thing is, to give as we see fits scripture the best; for the NT believer that has to out of love, and make sure that the fellowship that you belong too doesn’t misappropriate the funds, as they were in Malachi. I think that Christianity Today’s evidence for tithing was very weak but fundamentally they were right.
Thanks for the debate.
Many Blessings
Mark Robins

Admin said...

It's ashame that most Christians have believed the lie of Tithing. This practice tells people that God wants your 10percent when in reality He wants all of us. We are just stewards of His stuff. We should seek Him on what, where and when to give. This is part of a relationship, not religious obedience to ritual. Which Jesus did away with at the cross

Chris HH said...

God does want all of us, which is why obedience to the will of God as demonstrated perfectly by the example of Christ is still so important.

joe said...

I have just read your article after doing some research on tithing.

I think the Old Testament doctrine on tithing has been used by the church to make people feel guilty into giving money. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to convict we use Old Testament curses from Malachi or the promise that for every 10% you give to church God will multiply a hundred fold. Our giving should be in response to Gods amazing grace not from any obligation.

I am not suprised that people are questioning the article. It goes against all the teachings of the church for the last few hundred years. People are bound to struggle to accept it.

The principle of tithing has created a 10% mentality in the church. Many churches are struggling because everyone is encouraged to give just 10% - that includes time money and commitment to Jesus and his church. Our attitude towards money and giving indicates how much the gospel has changed us.

Our attitude towards money is like a barometer to how close our walk with God actually is. When we become Christians we receive forgiveness of sins, acceptance by God, love from God. We are clearly on the receiving end of things but we also give to God ourselves albeit rather messed up in most cases. After that God sorts us out and we mature and learning to give is part of the maturing process. Until we have learned to give we have not fully understood the gospel.

(Rom 12:6-8 NIV) We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. {7} If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; {8} if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

(2 Cor 9:7 NIV) Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Both these scriptures show that what matters is the spirit we operate in. If you can give 100% cheerfully brilliant. If you can give 10% cheerfully then brilliant and if it is 1% then brilliant. You have understood the doctrine of grace.

If 10% is given begrudgingly then keep it and allow God to work some more in you. Maybe cut your giving to a level you feel you can give cheerfully and then as you grow in grace maybe one day you will exceed 10%.

Chris HH said...

Hi Joe,

Thanks for you thoughtful and biblically based comments.

I agree with much of what you say about giving, but little of what you say about the tithe. This raises an important point because the two are not the same.

You can't give what's not yours. Although in one sense everything we have is God's, if you trace back the tithe to its context in the Old Testament particularly Leviticus (something I'm sure you will have done) you will see it comes in the context of the things that were "devoted" to God. These are things that belong to God in a much stronger sense. Just look at the trouble Saul got into when he messed with what had been devoted to God; he considered that his own free-will offering was superior to the commandment of God.

This is why to give less than 10% is not really giving at all. It's actually taking, as the prophet Malachi puts so strongly.

The giving that you describe, and that I also believe in, only begins once we have faithfully brought our tithe. It's not about guilt, or outdated OT doctrine. It's a principle in God's eternal word that teaches us to fear him as we should (Dt 14:24). Something that much of the church could do with recapturing.

GeorgeS said...

I recommend you read:

http://www.tithingtoday.com/book.htm

You can download this book for free.