A respected pastor and seminary professor in our associated work said one time, “You have the right to your own opinion, but you do not have the right to your own set of facts.” I am afraid that today there is a “War” on certain facts within professed Christianity that has greatly heated up in the last few years since the proliferation of the Internet.
The liberal idealogues, Oprah Baptists, moderate theologians, shade-tree philosophers, and self-made meologians have been coming from everywhere with an all out hostility aimed squarely at some rock solid Bible truths. I fully expect that from those outside of professed Christianity. I half way expect that from nominal Christianity. I have either been naive, or simply unfocused concerning those that have taken the name of Jesus, the Word of God, and through the practice of eisegesis, (putting into scripture) rather than exegesis, (discovering out of scripture) attempt to re-write, and redefine Conservative Christianity.
From some of the comments written on a few blogs that I have read, some of the doctrinal/practical targets that the “re-writers”/”redefiners” are taking shots at are some of the following Bible truths:
1. – That women are forbidden from teaching/preaching/pastoring/ men.
2. – That Christians ought to be in the practice of voluntary tithing.
3. – That true God called Pastors have a special divine calling.
4. – That the local church is God’s New Testament structure for ministry on earth
5. – That there is such a thing as Doctrinal Certainty
That’s just to name a few.
Now the fact is that some of these attacks are in direct response to some legitimate controversies that have risen within the last few years among Baptist circles.
When Mac Brunson became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida he walked into the batter’s box with an 0-2 count. Steve Gaines did the same when going to Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. Following a legend is like getting up and singing karaoke, AFTER the Celtic Women have left the stage. Regardless of the decisions of these two pastors, standing next to Vines and Rogers at this point in their ministries would require a lot of grace and patience from their congregations.
Now that being said, some FBCJax church memebers did express some legitimate concerns. I for one, believe in church authority, and pastoral transparency. Anytime I hear of surprise business meetings, quick by laws changes, and undisclosed financial issues, I do not think that wise pastoring, nor is it as Paul said, providing all things honest in the sight of all men.
However I do not think that means that when Brunson preaches on Tithing, it is because he is greedy. Pastor’s salaries do not, or generally do not, have any tie to the ebb and flow of church offerings. Pastor’s salaries, generally, are not “negotiated” like CEO, or Professional Athletic contracts. Somewhere in all of the fray, because a church chooses to set their pastor’s salary at a high level, the pastor automatically is an unethical, money grubbing, fat cat, whose only interest is wealth. (I am speaking generally here. I do not know Mac Brunson personally. I have enjoyed the last few messages that I have heard him preach.)
The fact is that most preachers/pastors who preach and teach the tithe in conservative Bible believing churches do so out of Biblical conviction. They do not legalistically twist the Scriptures in order to avoid the overriding principle of the tithe. In the Old Testament, the Lord showed and demonstrated for us the desire of His heart when He chastised the people of Israel for not “tithing” and “giving offerings.” We know that the desire of God’s heart is for His people to be a tithing people. Now you couple that with the plain warning, “To knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”, I’d be ashamed if I didn’t want to tithe.
Thinking for a minute about 2 Corinthians 8:12-14 Paul made it clear that there are three things required in Biblical giving. 1.) A Willing Mind. 2.) According to that a man hath. 3.) An Equal amount. Tithing or not tithing if your mind is not willing, it is not accepted. Anytime men teach anything about “obedience” if they are teaching that they have to obey, rather than teaching them that they have to want to obey, then they are not teaching proper Biblical obedience. Whatever command we obey, or principle we submit to, or law we find, requires our desire. Every command to obey, constitutes a command to WANT to obey, or it cannot be followed.
2.) According to that a man hath. – Much or little. No one ever argues with that. If I have ten dollars or ten thousand dollars worth of income amonth, I am still to be a giver. I am still to give God the first and best of my ten dollars, as much as I am the the first and best of my ten thousand dollars.
3.) By an Equality. – “not that other men be eased ye be burdened.” – When it comes to giving according to that a man hath, AND by an equality, the principle of the tithe fits wonderfully and perfectly into the practice of giving. When a $10/ man, and a $10,000/ man tithe, they both have “given according to their ability” AND given by “an equality.”
The bottom line is that the Tithe of the Old Testament is Principle that New Testament Christians ought to WANT to practice because it fits New Testament guidelines, and has been pictured for us as the desire of God’s heart.
Now that being said, the “tithe” controversies that are continually being stirred, have lead to accusations against the office of pastor. I have said and always will say that hirelings exist. However not all pastors are hirelings. I’ll defend that issue in my next post, but I will say here that, that is one battle that lost people do not need for Christians to have. The world, and the devil stand in permanent accusation against God-called pastors, leading Christ’s New Testament churches. When Christians begin to do the same, they are aiding the devil in undermining the credibility of gospel preaching pastors to lost and dying people. They are undercutting the gospel. Proverbs 6:19 tells us that the Lord hates “he that soweth discord among the brethren.” It is one thing to raise a hand or voice in disagreement, it is another thing to wage all out warfare, and launch piercing accusations at those we are in disagreement with. “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”
Disagree, yes. Accuse, no. That would be a change worth making.
(Hostile, Vulgar, Belligerent and Biting comments will not be posted.)