Monday, March 05, 2012

Irenaeus' Tithing Remarks

“And for this reason did the Lord, instead of that [commandment], ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ forbid even concupiscence; and instead of that which runs thus, ‘You shall not kill,’ He prohibited anger; and instead of the law enjoining the giving of tithes, to share all our possessions with the poor; and not to love our neighbors only, but even our enemies; and not merely to be liberal givers and bestowers, but even that we should present a gratuitous gift to those who take away our goods”

This is quoted in my book in Chapter 29, A Secular History of Tithing, pages 253-254. The quote continues:

“For with Him there is nothing purposeless, nor without signification, nor without design. And for this reason they (the Jews) had indeed the tithes of their goods consecrated to Him, but those who have received liberty set aside all their possessions for the Lord’s purposes, bestowing joyfully and freely not the less valuable portions of their property, since they have the hope of better things [hereafter]; as that poor widow acted who cast all her living into the treasury of God” (Against Heresies, book 4, chap. 18). Again, poverty and asceticism are indicated. Irenaeus clearly taught that the church was a dispenser of necessities for the poor. His life and writings reveal that he believed that its leaders should live as meagerly as ¬ possible.
(1) Irenaeus was not an inspired contributor to the Bible. His opinion of what Jesus meat was only that – his opinion.

(2) Jesus did not explicitly re-direct tithes from FOOD from Israel to GIFTS to the poor. This was only Irenaeus’ opinion (which is unbiblical). Irenaeus knew that he had no authority to redefine HOLY tithes away from FOOD>

(3) Natural law within the heart and conscience of every person tells to GIVE, but it does not tell us how much to give. A free-will sacrificial gift is natural law; tithing is not.

(4) Irenaeus was bishop of a church outside of Israel. No Israelite would ever say that HOLY tithes could come from defiled pagan land. We cannot assume or presume that Irenaeus had re-defined a holy tithe. That is why he does not come right out and plainly say what you want him to say.

(5) Like all of the early Church Fathers, Irenaeus clearly understood that tithes belonged to the Levites and priests under the law. Not even the rabbis such as Paul who led the synagogues ever dared to claim the tithe as their salary.

(6) “Those who have received liberty” refers both to Jews who are no longer under the law and to Gentiles who are no longer under the condemnation of the law of nature and conscience.

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