Reply to Glenn Brooke, Be Bold and Gentle, 2-7-2010
Glenn: The simple answer is that you will not find a clear command to tithe in the New Testament.
Russ: Therefore the Holy Spirit did not find it necessary to teach tithing to the Church after Calvary in terms of grace and faith. Period.
Glenn: You also won't find an explicit command to not tithe or not give generously.
Russ: You will find explicit evidence that everything about the tithe ended at Calvary. (1) Its Old Covenant, (2) its Temple, (3) its priesthood, (4) its Levites and Levitical cities, (5) its restriction to food from inside Israel and (6) its prohibition that Levitical tithe recipients are not allowed to own or inherit property.
Glenn: The New Testament tells us that the reality of our "new creation in Christ" life is a much higher standard of giving than legalistic tithing.
Russ: This argument is based on the false assumptions that (1) everyone in the OT was required to begin their level of giving at ten per cent and (2) that OT and NT tithes could include income from outside of Israel. The truth is that OT Israelites who lived and worked trades in the cities did not qualify as tithe-payers and nobody outside of Israel qualified. Money was essential for sanctuary worship but only was never a tithe-able item.
Glenn: I think this interpretation is missing the primary point. Mt 23:23
Russ: Mt 23:23 is a discussion of "matters of the law" and was addressed to OT scribes and Pharisees before Calvary. Jesus must teach obedience to the law for Hebrews according to Gal 4:4-5 but he could not command Gentiles to tithe either to himself or to the Temple because it was illegal.
Glenn: Let's review New Testament passages which lead me to believe a higher standard of giving is normative for Christians.
Russ: The "higher standard" has nothing to do with tithing which only applied to food producers who lived inside Israel. The higher standard of giving is: freewill, generous, freewill, not by commandment and motivated by love --not law.
Glenn: The widow's mite is an example of NT higher standards.
Russ: This was before Calvary. She was giving a sacrificial freewill offering and not a tithe. She did not qualify as a tithe-payer.
Glenn: After Pentecost the new believers were incredibly generous with giving and helping. It does not appear they limited themselves to a tithe: Acts 2:42-47)
Russ: According to Acts 2:46 the early Jewish Christians continued to worship in the Temple which is proof they still supported it with tithes and offerings. According to Acts 21:20 (over 30 years later) they were still zealously giving tithes to the Temple system.
Glenn: (2 Corinthians 8:1-7) (1 Cor 16:1-2)(2 Corinthians 9:6-13)
Russ: Most tithe-teachers say that these are discussions of freewill offerings beyond the tithe and discount your correct arguments.
Glenn: are we cursed by God?
The work of Christ at the cross delivers Christians from the curse of the Mosaic Law, because the law has been fulfilled in Christ.
Russ: Gentile Christians never were under the curse of the law which was only given to national Israel. Ex 19:5-6; Lev 27:34; Neh 10:29; Mal 4:4.
Glenn: Everything we have is God's, not just X%. (See Psalm 24:1)
Russ: While that was also true in the OT, it was never used as a reason to receive tithes from outside of God's special holy land of Israel.
Glenn: We should support missions outreach (many passages)
Russ: Tithes were never used to support missions in the OT.
Glenn: Therefore many Christians have looked at 10% of income going to their local church as a good starting point, and then giving to special events/needs and to support the poor above and beyond that. I think this is a reasonable approach, but will not make it an expectation or mark of a "true" believer.
Russ: The SBC Position Paper demands that tithing be taught as an expectation. The "good starting point" sounds good but it is not biblical since OT tithe-payers were only those who earned a living off God's holy land of Israel.
Glenn: I cannot support the statement "Christians should give 10% of their income to their local church" specifically from Scripture.
Russ: Then do not even attempt to support tithing by calling a "good place to start" or a "reasonable approach."