Larry: I wouldn’t characterize Melchisedec as a “local priest-king.”
Russ: The historical Melchizedek of Genesis 14 was a priest-king who worshipped God as El Elyon and not as Yahweh. That tells me a lot. El Elyon was the Canaanite and very common title for a high god. I must conclude that the historical Melchizedek did not know God as Yahweh or it would have been somewhere in his title. Psalms 110:4 uses the ORDER of Melchizedek as a type of the Messiah. David had to go outside Israel because did not have priest-kings. Hebrews 7 uses the historical Melchizedek as at TYPE of Christ. The historical M. was only a type of Christ "by interpretation of his name and title." There is nothing sinful in saying that Christ was after his ORDER of priest-king rather than his person.
Larry: Also, I think you are being far too generous with peoples motives for their level of giving. I would suggest that in the U.S. there are far more people would can give and don’t than people who want to give and can’t.
Russ: I wholly agree with you. The problem is not that tithing is not being taught. The problem is that personal evangelism and revivals are things of the past. There are many large successful churches like that of John MacArthur, Moody, Dallas, Wheaton and Talbot which flourish without teaching tithing. We cannot solve spiritual problems with legalistic methods. No amount of threatening curses for not tithing is going to spiritually loosen purse-strings.
Larry: Barna Research repeatedly documents that the giving patterns of the have-less exceed the patterns of the have-mores.
Russ: Yes, but why? The same ghetto group that tithes also buys most lottery tickets. Their motive for giving might be a quick-fix which replaces a good education. Barna's book, Pagan Christianity, is harder against tithing than I am. I at least allow a church to hire a full time pastor as long as it does not support him with tithing. Barna condemns it.
Larry: The logic you offered might suggest that the widow should not have given her mite or the Macedonians Christians should not have given above what Paul thought they were able to give? Where in scripture does God not bless those who put Him first?
Russ: This is not my reasoning. Your motive seems to be that they gave as either firstfruits or tithes. My motive is that they gave freely as a love response with no thoughts of percentages. Do this: have two car washes. Charge a set fee for one and ask for freewill donations for the other. I believe that the freewill donations will be greater than the set fee.
Larry: However, I will not pretend to be a scholar, since I am not. I am not a pastor. I am a layperson. I am a messenger whose been given a message. My message is focused on what God is doing through the process of our giving. People assume that because I write about giving that I’m writing to advocate tithing. That’s not my goal.
Russ: I surely wish you would study my essay, video and book and join me. The truth will eventually overcome.
Larry: In my last 3-hour seminar of church leaders I think I mentioned tithing once. My writings and commentary make very few references to tithing (less with each iteration) but I’ll admit that the references that are made certainly support tithes and offerings (proportional giving in conjunction with free-will giving) as a continuing guiding pattern.
Russ: Have you noticed that the Bible records two instances (old and new testament) where the people gave too much freely.
Larry: I think that most who support and teach tithing really only teach it as a pattern.
Russ: But it never has been a pattern, expectation, beginning point, good place to start and training wheels except for food producers who lived inside Israel. OT tithes could not come from Paul's pagan land. If your basic premise is wrong then your application of that premise is wrong.
Larry: Very few advocate a 3-tithe system, plus offerings. While I am open to God’s leading regarding how to better articulate my beliefs in the future, I can’t think of a scriptural reason to encourage anyone to give less than that since the models of giving commended in the New Testament clearly involved the giving of much more.
Russ: Again you are building on a false presumption. I have a shelf full of histories of the Christian Church written by Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Anglicans and Lutherans. NONE of them teach that the early church taught tithing for the first 300 years until Constantine. And even then it did not have the force of law until AD 777. Nobody other than state-churches in the US taught tithing before the 1890s!
Larry: I’ve never viewed proportional and free-will giving as being in conflict with sacrificial, abundant or generous giving pattern of the New Testament.
Russ: Proportional giving in the New Covenant is not tithing. It is equality giving per 2nd Cor 8:12-14. A recipient of tithes should be forced to forfeit property ownership as were tithe recipients in Numbers 18.Larry: I have considered some of your positions in the past and while they are interesting and sometimes informative, I haven’t found how they alter the message I have been given. Nothing we have discussed suggests that God isn’t interested in more than the gift itself. Nothing we have discussed suggests that God doesn’t use our giving to nurture our relationship with Him and each other. Nothing we have discussed suggests that God doesn’t use our giving to accomplish His purposes for and through the body. Those are the core principles of my message. I want people to move beyond obligation and self-centeredness and see God in their giving. I want people to give in response to the relationship rather than ritual. This is the “higher standard” I was referencing. I want to help people realize that our giving always has been and continues to be above more than the gift itself.
Russ: Amen, brother. Sounds good to me. Just do not call New Covenant giving "tithing" because it is not. Even the word conjures up legalism and buying favor with God.
Good night to you also, my brother