THE DOCTRINE OF TITHING (LESSON ONE)
In the next several lessons, we will present you with a bold position on “THE DOCTRINE OF TITHING.” As you read and study these lessons, we want you to “Think Deeply Before Concluding this Matter.” Therefore we will provide you with this quote from Dr. Kinley as you begin your study. Dr. Kinley stresses the importance of thinking on a matter before reaching a conclusion “… Nevertheless, we must, for our own Eternal welfare, regardless of our present so-called Church affiliation, keep an open mind to proven facts, which Satan, the Adversary, who was created to oppose the TRUTH, is always present to influence us in the wrong direction. Did it ever occur to you that we remain ignorant of attested TRUTH and scientifically proven facts, most particularly because we fail to make a PERSONAL, detailed INVESTIGATION of important matters? This failure to investigate positively retards the progress of our understanding and knowledge in every vocation and phase of life, both physical and spiritual. Sometimes, stopping and thinking for a moment over the essential things of life eliminates many regretted years of poverty, sickness, humiliation, embarrassment sometimes, death and destruction. Therefore, we should learn to pause and TRY TO THINK INTELLIGENTLY before we finally conclude affirmatively or negatively. We should do this before an ultimatum or final decision is rendered on any secular subject. The majority of us are, to some extent, guilty of this negligence.” (Elohim, the Archetype Original Pattern of the Universe, Introduction, paragraph five, page 1)
We encourage Bible educators to be bold, to open up their seminary level research and to promote studies on this subject in the Masters, Doctorate and Ph. D. levels. This doctrine is simply too important to ignore.
In many churches today, the doctrine of tithing has reached the level of a modern scandal. While on the one hand, most seminary-level textbooks on systematic theology and hermeneutics by highly educated theologians omit tithing, on the other hand, this practice is quickly becoming a requirement for church membership in the very denominations, which insist on solid Bible-based doctrines. There is also increasing evidence that laypersons who question the legitimacy of New Covenant tithing are usually criticized, and ignored as being troublemakers or weak Christians. Sincere Christian leaders should always be open and available to discuss God’s Word. Failure to do suggests doubt and insecurity. More “holy boldness” is needed.
A trip into a handful of Bible dictionaries should cure anyone of the simplistic idea that there is such a thing as 10 per cent off the top to a priesthood. Harper’s Bible Dictionary under “tithe” on page 1078 tells us,
“Reconstructing a clear picture of the nature and function of tithing in biblical times is extremely difficult due to the conflicting accounts and the problems in identifying the dates and provenance of the texts. Apparently, tithing was understood and practiced differently at different times and localities throughout the Biblical period.”
The above statement may come as a surprise to many people. This is very sad because it shows how little most of us know about the Bible. Many of those who teach tithing want it that way.
Tithing is Illegal
by Gary Amirault
When I say “illegal,” I certainly do not mean from the government’s point of view. The American federal government has been extremely generous in allowing religious organizations almost free hands in their money raising endeavors, even to the point of giving them many kinds of tax advantages. By illegal, I mean that God never authorized Christian leaders to take a tithe from God’s people. One will not find the modern church tithe authorized in the Old Covenant, nor in the New Covenant. Certainly, church historians are in agreement, when they say that tithing was not practiced by the early believers.
The tithe is a subject that is very dear to most church leaders. Those denominations that can get their members to actually bring in a full 10% of gross income can create very powerful forces far beyond their strength in numbers. The leading “tithing” sects according to an article in Christian Ministry, are interestingly what Evangelicals would term “cults.” Mormons, and the World Wide Church of God are the leading givers. The fourth is the Assemblies of God. Recently, the World Wide Church of God abandoned the tithe as un-Scriptural. Donations dropped 30 per cent in the first year.
According to Newsweek, most church members give far less than 10%, most giving under 2 per cent. Not surprising is the fact that the poor give a far greater portion of their income than the rich. USA Today (Oct. 25, 1990) tells us that families earning less than $10,000 give 5.5 per cent of their income to charity (not necessarily to church). Families earning between $50,000 and $60,000 give only 1.7% of their earnings.
We hope to show in this book that while many church fund-raising organizations and Christian financial counseling ministries tell us that not paying “the tithe” is robbing God, the actual Biblical facts are that those who teach tithing as a Christian doctrine are, in fact, the ones who are “robbing God.” As we go through this article, keep in mind the above statistic that the poor far out-give the rich percentage-wise.
I am going to make a statement that will probably shock many Christians who have been in church for a long period of time and feel they know the Bible pretty well. I hope this statement encourages the reader to “see for themselves” that this statement is 100 per cent Biblically true. My hope is that when we see how far off Scriptural ground we have come in such basic Christian teachings as giving, we will renew our desire to study to “show ourselves approved.” Here is the statement: The tithe as taught by most Christian denominations as being 10 per cent of gross or net income is not contained on the pages of the Bible!
Many Christian publications say that those who do not tithe are robbing God and will suffer curses for not doing so. I am going to use one of them as an example of what Scriptures and reasoning are usually used to support the idea that the church is full of God robbers, that is, people who do not tithe 10 per cent of their income.
A booklet entitled Tithes, Offering, and Alms states: “Today many churches do not teach tithing because they do not want to drive people away. In reality they are robbing God’s people of their blessing. When tithing is not taught, they are allowing their people to ignorantly rob God. By this they allow the devourer to have free access to their people. Then the church and the people wonder why they are not being blessed. When God’s people return again unto God, He will return unto them as He has promised.”
By this minister’s own reasoning then, the Churches of the world are full of “God-robbers.” The vast majority of Christians do not even come close to giving ten per cent of their income. Most churches are overflowing with “God-robbers.”
While this booklet Tithes, Offerings, and Alms deals with more than just the tithe, we will only focus on the tithe since that is the subject of this article.
I am not mentioning the author of this work hoping in days ahead he will see the foolishness of what he wrote.
In one small paragraph, this minister condemned to the devourer entire congregations who do not tithe. As long as people do not tithe, he says, they have turned their backs to God and He cannot bless them. They are God robbers! The booklet I just quoted is very typical of publications like this. They all refer to the same handful of Scriptures to justify their position.
I will use this one as an example of which Scriptures are used to support their view and then show how these Scriptures have not only been grossly taken out of context, but even these Scriptures out of context do not support the teaching of tithing being 10% of income.
We will then study the history of tithing in the Old Testament, the early church view on the subject, and what we believe is the correct Biblical view on giving.
What Saith the Scriptures?
Those who teach that Christians are obligated, to tithe can be categorized into two main groups: 1. those who say we are still under the Mosaic Law or portions of it; 2. those who say the tithe is part of the Abrahamic Covenant, which is pre-Mosaic. The latter group says the Abrahamic Covenant, being a covenant of faith, is valid for the church. They say Abraham was a tither. Therefore, we should tithe.
Let us deal first with the pre-Mosaic arguments. Those ministries, who have taught the Mosaic Law, are done away with and therefore cannot be put upon Christians use this teaching. They are correct regarding the Mosaic Law having passed away.
(We cannot get into this subject fully because it would take up too much space, but a handful of Scriptures might be helpful to those who disagree on this point. See 2 Cor. 3:11,13; Hebrews 8:13; Gal. 4:21-26; really all of Galatians and Hebrews.)
Briefly, the Old Covenant (Mosaic Covenant) was a two-sided agreement between Israel and Yahweh in which Yahweh would bless them if they kept their part of the agreement and He would curse them if they did not. It was an all or nothing package. A person was not allowed to turn this agreement into a smorgasbord, picking and choosing what suited one’s religious diet. They could not choose what to keep and what to throw out. James 2:10 tells us “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
Almost all denominations of Christianity have taken portions of the Mosaic Covenant, “Christened them,” and added them to the New Covenant. Without being aware of it, this has made most Christians guilty of the whole Mosaic Law, which says it all must be kept. At the same time, they have “fallen from grace” because of mixing it with a covenant which no longer serves a purpose for those under the New Covenant. This is not to say that we cannot learn many wonderful truths from the Mosaic Law. We are just no longer in covenantal relationship with God through that covenant. We are in covenantal relationship with God through a New Covenant ratified by Jesus Christ, not Moses.
The fact that most denominations of Christendom have not understood this vital point has caused us to fall from “grace through faith,” the very power of the New Covenant itself. What is tragic is that most Christians are not even aware of this “falling away” which has been going on for hundreds of years. Most denominations have mixed the Mosaic Covenant instituted by Moses with the New Covenant, which is the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:2) One covenant brought death (and always will); the other brought Life. If you believe, any of the Old Covenant is still binding to a believer in Christ, read what Paul has to say in 1 Corinthians chapter three verses four through eighteen about the cornerstone of the Mosaic Covenant, that is, the Ten Commandments. This should cure anyone of binding himself or herself to the “ministry of death.” The consequences of this mixture have been catastrophic. A careful non-biased survey of church history should reveal what this mixture has produced. While this paper is not about Mosaic Law versus Grace, I felt the subject had to be touched somewhat. (To be continued in Lesson 2)