Darrell: Recently I was asked if I could write a controversial post on tithing. Realizing that this is something that could get me in trouble, I’ve decided to take up the challenge.
Russ:I challenge you to an extended in-depth look at the subject onl my web site.
Darrell: Before we look at this matter, let’s get a working definition. What is tithing? Simply, a tithe means: a tenth . A 10% portion of an income, possessions or lands.
Russ: True biblical HOLY tithes were always only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel which He had mirculously increased. Tithes could not come from what man increased or from outside HOLY Old Covenant Israel. You must reconcile your definition. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-teachers. Only food producers inside Israel qualified.
Darrell: Tithing is certainly not only a Judean-Christian practice. The Babylonians, Islamic, as well as Sikhs have tithed since ancient times.
Russ: Very true, but this only proves that it is not an eternal moral principle. Tithing was practiced among idolators, and those who practised child sacrificie and temple prostitution.
Darrell: Biblically, the first mention of the concept of tithing is found in Genesis 14:18-19. Here Abraham meets the mysterious figure: Melchezedek, who is a king of Salem, and a priest of the Most High God. …
We see Abram offering this priest, a tenth of all of his spoils.
Russ: Abram’s tithe as an uncircumcised Gentile did not qualify as a HOLy tithe uneer the Law. He was obeying the law of the land which required tithes from spoils of war to the local king-priest. The Bible does not say that he ttihed freely. He did not tithe of his pre-existing property. He kept nothing. And he gave the 90% to the king of Sodom. None of this is an example for Christians.
Darrell: Deuteronomy 14;22-27, Deuteronomy 26:12-14, Numbers 18:13-14
Russ: There are 16 texts from Levitcus 27 to Luke 18 which descrie the contents of the tithe as only food from inside Israel. .
Darrell: In the context of the Mosaic Law, tithes and offerings were a combination of ceremonial offerings, but a specific percentage essentially served as a type of tax. This tax served two chief purposes. To finance and support the temple and Priesthood, and to provide for the poor among the people.
Russ: Yes, it was a tax as seen in First Chronicles 23 to 26 which even supported the king’s servants as judges and rulers. No, it did not pay for Temple materials for construction and was not used to send out missionaries to Gentiles.
Darrell: Later, the early Catholic writer Francis Plowden wrote about tithing as “A divine ordinance and an obligation of conscience.”
Russ: Most Catholic writers would not agree, including Augustine. It was only a divine ordinance –from the Church.
Darrell: Although most modern Biblical scholars agree that tithing IS NOT a direct command given in the New Testament many Catholics church leaders have cited Matthew 23:23, arguing that Jesus in fact instructed that tithing was essential.
Russ: The first rule of hermeneutics is to look at the verse itself. Jesus was rebuking “hypocrites, scribes and Pharisees” concerning “matters of the law.” Jesus told His Jewish disciples to obey them because “they sit in Moses seat” (23:2-3). Jesus could not have told His Jewish disciples to tithe to him and he could not have told His Gentile disciples to tithe at all –both were illegal.
Darrell: Lastly, the common scripture used to define the act of tithing in most protestant churches today comes from Malachi 3:8-10. This scripture eloquently describes the heart and principle of giving to God. It portrays that the failure of the Jewish people to observe it in the past was a clear sign of their lack of faith …
Russ: Malachi 1:1-5 is addressed to Old Covenant Israel (Ex 19:5-6; Lev 27:34; Neh 10:29; Mal 4:4) and not to the Church. Malachi 1:6; 2:1; 2:17 ar addressed to dishonest PRIESTS of Israel (the “you”) who had stolen tithes and vows of tithes in Neh 10:5-13 and Mal 1:13-14.
Darrell: … and would now incur a curse upon them. It also showed that those who are faithful in giving to God in tithes and offerings, would be rewarded with divine provision and blessing. This scripture in Malachi is often referred to as command.
Russ: The blessings and curses associated with tithes are those of the whole law per Neh 10:29 and Gal 3:10-13. Obey ALL to be blessed; break ONE to be cursed. One must observe ALL the law in order to claim blessing. Jesus removed that curse for Hebrews and Gentiles never were under the curse of the Old Covenant Law.
Darrell: Although the passage does show a great truth, it is erroneously taught as an Old Testament command that must be observed.
Russ: It was only a truth for Old Covenant Hebrews.
Darrell: This proposes a doctrinal problem. Why should a New Testament believer, who is supposedly not under the “old law’, observe an obscure principle mentioned in the Prophets, but, be shunned and labeled as a Judaizer or Legalist if they decide to observe the Feasts or Festivals of Yawheh, or observe the levitical dietary laws, let alone the entire Mosaic law. In short, my tough question is: Why do we insist that our congregations obey this single Old Testament law, but encourage them that they are free from all of the other 313 laws? I think we all know the answer to that. Because the church’s need money.
Do I think it is wrong to tithe? Absolutely not! I encourage it, and practice it myself.
Russ: You may sacrificially give more than 10% but that is still New Covenant freewill giving. It does not meet the biblical definition of a HOLY tithe.
Darrell: Do I think it is a direct command that all Christians have to give ten percent of their income to the local church? No. Hermeneutically, that would be a convenient assumption.
Russ: Thank you for your honesty.
Darrell: Why tithe when you can give? When you give 8%, you may feel guilty…. when you give 10%, you may feel satisfied…….. when you give 12%, You feel “spiritual”. This is not a good perspective on charity. The law was designed to show sin and act as yoke,(obligation) leading us to Christ (joy).
Russ: Second Corinthians 8:12-14 gives the equality principle. Many, if not most, should give MORE than 10%. However many others are giving sacrificially even thouth less than 10%. It equals out.
Darrell: Tithing is good. It is never a sin.
Russ: New Covenant HOLY biblical tithing is lilterally impossible.
Darrell: Give money, give lots, give regularly
• Give to the local Church and give to pastors who bless you
• Finances can be given to increase our faith. Every financial offering is a seed sown.
• If money, and fear of lack has a grip on you, the best way to break that spirit, is to give hilariously.
• Give because you want to
• Give because God has blessed you
• Give because you trust God
Russ: Very good.
Darrell: Don’t limit yourself to ten percent. Give in proportion to your faith, and joy.
Russ: Obey First Timothy 5:8 first. Use your first to buy essential medicine, food and shelter. Do not live lavishly. Firstfrutis were never the same as tithes.
Darrell: Generosity releases revival. I hope you all enjoyed this post. Please let me know if you have any questions..
Russ: Keep up the good posts. May God bless your ministry.
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD