When Passions Run High

Sadly we have entered the day of Christian criticism.  Sheep are biting shepherds, and shepherds are abusing sheep, and to try to get to the cause is like when the fighting brothers exclaimed to their mother, “it all started when he hit me back.”

There is much division about many things in professed Christendom, and for what it’s worth in many cases rightly so.  The late Dr. Rogers said it is better to be divided by truth than united in a lie.  One of the things in this day that seems to have created a fault line between Pulpit and Pew is the issue of whether or not believers should tithe.  Not only  has it become just an issue of disagreement, for many it has become an issue of accusation, slander, and vitriolic exchange.  The issue of tithing aside, the heart of the angst is an issue all by itself.  The fact of conflict itself over the tithe has become it’s own issue among many Baptists.

The Bible makes it plain that “only by pride cometh contention.”  Whatever the reasoning of the mind, pride is the permament problem of the heart.  That being said, why is there this much anger over the doctrine of the principle of tithing?  I didn’t ask why is there much disagreement, I asked why is there much anger.  I don’t have the answer but but there are some things I want to point out.

One – For some people the fact is that there are a lot of pastors and preachers that “over-preach” it.  I tell my congregation from time to time, that if they’ll listen to me, when I’m finished I’ll quit.  There is no doubt that there are many money preachers in the pulpits of this land, and people are awake to that fact, and tired of that fact at the same time.  I have been guilty of preaching past my point on several occasions, and that is often the case here.  Sometimes these preachers really are guilty of being money preachers, sometimes they are just guilty of not being aware of the fact that they’ve made their point.

Two – What many in the pew need to realize is that pastors are not paid in proportion to the income of the church any more.  Whether their people tithe or not has no bearing on the salary of the pastor.  The fact is that most church members in this land do not truly practice the principle of tithing, yet the pastors still get paid.  I cannot speak for the motives of every man who over-preaches tithing, but the general fact is, it doesn’t benefit him one way or another.  I am not aware of a single legitimate viable church that pays the pastor according to the general offerings of the church.  My point on that is this, it is a futile argument to accuse the pastor of wanting more money for preaching on tithing.  Pastors are paid the same whether the offering be up, or the offering be down.  Generally even when it comes to cutting budget items, the Pastor is also the last one the church wants to touch.  So to be accusing these pastors of wanting more money from tithing is kind of a toothless bite. 

The fact just may be that they understand that the Word of God teaches the principle of tithing. 

Third – The fact may also be that this is a source of conviction for those who do not practice tithing.  Not from the stand point of disagreeing about the principle, but from the stand point of comparison as to what they actually do give.  I have pastored people that rejected the principle of tithing, (without hostility) but gave more than 10%.  I have pastored people that rejected tithing, and wouldn’t even put a “look” into the offering plate.  The fact is that when someone giving 2% hears that the Biblical principle is 10% it’s like anything else; it will do one of three things.  It will either turn them, burn them, or have no effect at all.

Fourth – It is not only Pastors that hold the conviction of the principle of tithing.  I know specifically of a church that on one occasion, took issue with a pastor that wouldn’t tithe.  By their own reading of the Word, and by their own conviction, they were convinced that the tithe is the Biblical principle when it comes to basic giving.  He was not, and did not, and ultimately they parted ways.  (There were also other reasons involved.)  My point, is that many people have tried to drive this wedge between pulpit and pew, and sometimes the disagreement is between pew and pew and pulpit and pulpit.  The fact is that this is not merely an issue of “greedy pastors” as some want to accuse.  There are many “tithers” all the way around.

Now just for a personal note here.  I mentioned in a previous post the names of Steve Gaines, and Mac Brunson.  I do not personally know either one of these men.  I have hosted Steve Gaines at my church, and enjoyed some private conversation and a meal with him.  And I will say this as fact and let it speak for itself.  He left here refusing our funds.  He would not receive our travel reimbursements, or our honorarium for speaking, and had we not prearranged the ticket for dining he would have rejected that as well.  So what that boils down to, is that it cost him financially to preach at a Bible Conference that we held.  I will let that speak for itself.

When our emotions get the best of us, they bring out the worst in us.  I personally am more concerned with todays constant criticism of the Baptist pulpit from within Baptist pews, than I am with whether or not  all of my church memebers are giving their 10 percent.  I would much rather see ALL of our church members actually in church than I would to see them all tithe.  I would like to see all of our church members more faithful in a lot more areas, and most pastors I know would agree.  When I preach on praying more, people who aren’t praying like they ought to do not get upset.  When I preach on witnessing more, people who are not witnessing more do not get upset.  And I am extremely thankful that when I have preached on giving, (tithing), the people that are not tithing do not get upset.

Antagonistic criticism is a course changing force, and more often than not that course change is a negative.  There is nothing wrong with addressing wrongs that is needed;  but that is not the same as passionate criticism of something we don’t agree with.

Now I will say this.  I have said that I will post further my defense of tithing, and I will.  But for now I believe in the principle of tithing from my understanding of the Bible.  I believe that it is wrong for a Christian to know this principle and not practice it, for to knoweth to do good and doeth it not to him it is sin.  The church I pastor takes care of my family and our needs, regardless of whether or not people tithe.  I do not remember the last time that I preached on tithing.  Our church has always had what it needs to do what it feels lead by the Spirit to do.  One of the things that I remember and have kept, and use frequently from the late Dr. Rogers is the fact that “the Lord always pays for what He orders.”  Because of that, I never worry as a Pastor about the funding for the ministries of this church. 

My encouragement to you is don’t let the issue of tithing change the way that you view the Lord’s churches, or the Lord’s pastors.  That is a change that is not worth making.

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7 comments on “When Passions Run High

  1. rory says:

    Your response is honorable and respectable.
    When it comes to the subject of tithing and Christians, in the simplest of terms, where in our Covenant (the New one), is there any instruction, command, or reminder to tithe either food or money?

    We taught and supported the tithe for 24 years. I made the “mistake” of asking God to show me the truth about tithing, and confirm it either way. We did not rebel or refuse tithing..
    The Lord said “start reading the New Testament”, which i prayerfully did. About a month later i was in shock, when I realized there was not even one verse instructing churches to tithe.
    “HOW can this be?” -we asked. I was afraid to stop tithing at that point because everyone in ministry we knew or had know taught tithing.
    It was never an excuse not to “give”, we were always givers. But tithing was “of the matters of the law” as Jesus said in Mat 23:23. -and the law was abolished according to many scriptures like Eph. 2 says.

    We now gladly give and the Lord has spoken to us many times to whom, and how much we were to give. -and we have lovingly been blessed to meet many needs as the lord directed us. It is so good to hear HIM speak to us as “My sheep hear my voice…”, and we no longer follow a law called “the tithe’
    God bless you.

  2. steward says:

    Although i would disagree with your view on tithing, i really enjoyed the message and tone of your blog post. I am guilty of letting my passions out of control many times. I am looking forward to hearing your future blog posts on tithing.

    – jared

  3. Why have my comments been deleted?

    • Bro. Kelly,

      I apologize, I didn’t realize that any comments that you have submitted were deleted. There have been two “comments” to make it me through email that were jumbled and garbled letters that were not legible, and so I trashed, or spammed them. If you want to resend them when I get them they will be posted. Again I apologize. I am not a computerized man, and so it is possible that I did something wrong.

  4. Gary Arnold says:

    I have yet to find a pastor who teaches tithing using God’s Word AS IT IS WRITTEN. God defined His tithe in Leviticus 27:30-33 and gave His instructions in Numbers 18. Why is it that no pastor uses God’s definition nor His instructions?

    Pastors want to take the idea of tithing from God’s Word, change the definition and instructions, and then teach it as a “principle” when, in fact, it wasn’t a principle at all. It was a law which clearly ended at the cross along with all the other Old Testament laws.

    Those who preach tithing was before the law use Abraham’s one-time example of tithing spoils of war, keeping nothing for himself, as somehow a reason for tithing in the Christian Church. God did NOT incorporate Abraham’s tithe into the law. God’s tithe is on crops and animals from the Holy Land, not pagan spoils of war. God’s tithe was given to the Levites, not a king-priest. There is nothing common between the two tithes other than the tenth.

    In Hebrews 7:5,12,18 we learn that the sons of Levi received the tithe, and that when a priesthood changes, the law changes. We learn that the commandment [to tithe] was disannulled along with the rest of Numbers 18.

    Why would anyone want to bring forward an inferior law (or principle) from an inferior priesthood into the New Testament? Is it that pastors lack faith that God will take care of His church financially by putting it into the hearts of those attending to give generously?

  5. CWM: Sadly we have entered the day of Christian criticism.

    Kelly: We entered that when Jesus began criticizing the religious leaders of his time It continued when the Bereans did their own study of what Paul taught. It continued when Luther and Calvin criticized the abuses of their own church. And it should and must continue today to keep the church theologically honest to the Word of God.

    CWM: … for what it’s worth in many cases rightly so. The late Dr. Rogers said it is better to be divided by truth than united in a lie.

    Kelly: Amen.

    CWM: … Tithing … for many it has become an issue of accusation, slander, and vitriolic exchange.

    Kelly: If you read a few blogs on tithing you will soon discover that the overwhelming majority of name-calling comes from the pro-tithers who prefer to make personal attacks rather than defend their position on the Word of God.

    CWM: That being said, why is there this much anger over the doctrine of the principle of tithing?

    Kelly: Perhaps it is because the Church refuses to discuss the matter and its silence increases the frustration of those who are told to “sit down and shut up.” Perhaps it is because so many of our questions are either ignored or blotted off the blogs. How would you respond to such treatment?

    CWM: For some people the fact is that there are a lot of pastors and preachers that “over-preach” it.

    Kelly: Have you ever read the SBC Position Paper on the subject? It REQUIRES you to teach it if you are employed by the SBC. That is dishonest since it is not part of the Faith and Message and only the texts were added in 1963 –300 years after the first Baptist confession.

    CWM: I have been guilty of preaching past my point on several occasions, and that is often the case here. … sometimes they are just guilty of not being aware of the fact that they’ve made their point.

    Kelly: Why not allow an open in-depth study of the subject for all to hear? You study Calvinism, Premillennialism and Mormonism without any problem. Why is tithing taboo?

    CWM: What many in the pew need to realize is that pastors are not paid in proportion to the income of the church any more. Whether their people tithe or not has no bearing on the salary of the pastor.

    Kelly: Are you saying that pastors in large churches with many “tithers” are not paid any more than those in small churches with less income?

    CWM: The fact is that most church members in this land do not truly practice the principle of tithing, yet the pastors still get paid.

    Kelly: Dr David Croteau of Liberty graduated from SEBTS and wrote his PHD on tithing with Andreas Kostenberger as teacher and Craig Blomberg as reader. None of the three agree with tithing. The thesis proved that tithing has never worked since its beginning in the SBC in 1895 and needs to be replaced.

    CWM: I am not aware of a single legitimate viable church that pays the pastor according to the general offerings of the church.

    Kelly: I could tell you some horror stories but you would not believe them.

    CWM: My point on that is this, it is a futile argument to accuse the pastor of wanting more money for preaching on tithing.

    Kelly: I have never made such accusation. We simply want the church to follow the context of God’s Word.

    CWM: The fact just may be that they understand that “the Word of God teaches the principle of tithing.”

    Kelly: Defending that “statement” is all that we are interested in. Luther wanted to cleanse the church of false doctrine in the same vein.

    CWM: … I have pastored people that rejected the principle of tithing, (without hostility) but gave more than 10%. I have pastored people that rejected tithing, and wouldn’t even put a “look” into the offering plate.

    Kelly: Because the real problem is a lack of personal evangelism and good preaching on soul-winning. Second Corinthians 8:12-15 means that many should give more than ten per cent. However it is wrong to teach that everybody must begin giving not less than ten per cent as a (false) firstfruit contrary to 1st Timothy 5:8. Tithes were not firstfruits.

    CWM: The fact is that when someone giving 2% hears that the Biblical principle is 10%…

    Kelly: You have changed the biblical definition of the way it uses the word “tithe.” And you base your false “principle” on the false assumption that the Bible required everybody to begin giving at ten per cent. One error built upon another error.

    CWM: It is not only Pastors that hold the conviction of the principle of tithing.

    Kelly: This does not make it right. I can name many top theologians who do not teach tithing, including Dr Marin Luther, Dr. Daniel Akin, Dr Andreas Kostenberger, Dr David Black, Dr John MacArthur, Dr Charles Ryrie, Dr Craig Blomberg, Dr Merrill Unger and Dr Walter Elwell. Should they shut up and be quiet?

    CWM: … The church I pastor takes care of my family and our needs, regardless of whether or not people tithe. I do not remember the last time that I preached on tithing.

    Kelly: That is because are a good preacher, an evangelist and your members are burdened for lost souls. They give, not by compulsion or percentage, but out of love. That is a New Covenant principle.

    2 Cor 8:2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
    3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves.

    This could not be said of Levitical tithing.

  6. Bro. Kelly,

    Thank you for your comments and thoughts.

    There are only a couple I have time to respond to now.

    1st – Kelly: Why not allow an open in-depth study of the subject for all to hear? You study Calvinism, Premillennialism and Mormonism without any problem. Why is tithing taboo?

    For the record, those are not open debates as far as we are concerned. Calvinism is a point blank heresy not open for debate. It is wrong, and plainly unbiblical. As well as Mormonism. I’m not sure about the context of your question concerning premillennialism, but that is generally undebated in my circles as well. Pre-Trib Rapture followed by the Trib, and then Millennium is the doctrine of the day.

    2nd – Kelly: Have you ever read the SBC Position Paper on the subject? It REQUIRES you to teach it if you are employed by the SBC. That is dishonest since it is not part of the Faith and Message and only the texts were added in 1963 –300 years after the first Baptist confession. – No sir I haven’t. I am not affiliated with the SBC. The church that I pastor is in association withe the American Baptist Association. NOT the American Baptist Convention as it is confused with some time. We are essentially the Landmark movement of the late 1800’s early 1900’s.

    3rd – Kelly: That is because are a good preacher, an evangelist and your members are burdened for lost souls. They give, not by compulsion or percentage, but out of love. That is a New Covenant principle.

    I consider that a compliment, and say thank you. My mission statement to our church is two fold, it is first to get lost people saved, and second to get saved people serious. I think all that we do is wrapped up in those two thoughts. I have been here for four years and have preached one 3 sermon series on “tithing.” Our people give, our Lord supplies, and whatever we have been convinced the Lord lead us to do, we have been able to do. Adrian Rogers said, “the Lord pays for what He orders.” That being said, I have every confidence that He will supply what needs to be supplied to do what He has lead us to do.

    If/When I preach on giving it has nothing to do with current projects, or needed goals. If/when we have goals, I make the church aware and that’s it.

    4th – CWM: My point on that is this, it is a futile argument to accuse the pastor of wanting more money for preaching on tithing.

    Kelly: I have never made such accusation. We simply want the church to follow the context of God’s Word.

    The accusations have been made by others, on other blogs concerning Dr. Gaines and Dr. Brunson. My point was that neither Gaines, nor Brunson get paid according to the tithes of the people, making that a toothless argument against them. That’s all.

    For someone who didn’t have time, I wrote a lot.

    Thank you again for visiting the blog, and sharing your thoughts.

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