Tithing Turmoil, and the Critical Critics

I have already written more in the last 18 months about tithing than I have preached on it in in the last five years.  However the subject has not yet disappeared from the agenda of those who stand in opposition to fundamental Biblical teaching. 

Without addressing “tithing” itself, there are some particular points from regular blogging critics that must be met with firm rebuttal and straightforward refutation of the mischaracterization of sound, solid Bible preaching preachers who fully, and rightly understand the Biblical principle of the tithe.

Now before I begin, I must say to those who are critical of tithe teaching pastors, you can have Ed Young Jr.   As a matter of fact, keep him.  The whole bank account/routing # etc, is the most perverse commercialization of the spiritual act of giving that I have ever seen.  Do not link me to him, or construe anything that I am going to say as a defense of his actions.  As another matter of fact you can have Kenneth Copeland, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, and all of the other prosperity preachers as well.  They have no business being called Christian ministers. 

Scientists have already proven that if you take all of the prosperity preachers in the world, and stretch them end to end around the equater, we’d all be better off.

Now that being said, quite frankly it is patently absurd, and brazenly irresponsible, for anyone to imply that those who preach and teach the doctrine of the tithe are all greedy, money mongering, false prophets, that use the ministry to fleece the people of God.  The truth is, that the same logic and mindset aimed at those preachers, can be applied to their critics.

Some say preachers who preach 10% are greedy.  I could say that those who don’t like the tithing doctrine are greedy.  Some say preachers who preach 10% are being legalistic.  This preacher could say that those who use, the “farmers, herdsman, cattle, sheep, produce, Israel, only arguments”  as reasons not to tithe are being legalistic. 

(For the record, I have never used the “Law” to teach tithing, it is however the critics who use the “Law” to teach others not to tithe . . .  friends, that is legalism.)  Those who rightly teach the tithe do not use the law to explain it.  It is from those who don’t want to tithe that use the Law to avoid it.

For someone to say that since the tithe was only for farmers, and herdsman, Christians have no responsibility to it; is like saying, since everyone in the Bible that gave were wearing tunics, and that’s not us, we shouldn’t be asked to give.   Too often they cannot discern the difference between a principle and a command. 

The primary problem that has brought about this article, is the continued accusation by the critics that pastors in general who teach their people the Biblical tithe are being disingenuous, dishonest, and almost criminal with their preaching. 

Whatever ill motives someone may ascribe to me for preaching God’s example of 10% may be ascribed to those who refuse to follow God’s example of 10%.

When I preach that God gets the best and we live off the rest, and someone takes issue with that, why is it that no one examines their motives?  Why doesn’t someone want to give God the best and live off the rest?  Why doesn’t someone want to give God at least 10% of their income and form fit their life to live with the remainder?  Why are the motives of the critics never put under the microscope?

I believe the Biblical example of giving is a minimum of 10% and some would say I’m greedy.

Some believe that Biblical example doesn’t apply to them.  I could say, “They are just greedy.”

One accusation that the critics continue to make is that we are being mean to people of lesser means.  Or somehow we are being brutal towards those “can’t afford it.”  The whole time that they are doing so, are rejecting one of the lessons learned through tithing.  I’ve read and heard some critics, who say, “I’ve only ever been able to give 3% sometimes 4% to my church.”  Is it because their giving comes off the bottom rather than the top?  Is it because they have structured  their giving around their lifestyle, instead of their lifestyle around their giving?   Just asking questions.   (Of course someone is going to present some extenuating circumstance as empirical evidence that people shouldn’t be asked to tithe, I know.)

My issue here is not to take up a defense of tithing itself, because plainly some people are genuinely convinced, and sincerely believe that the example of the tithe has no bearing on the Christian life.  As someone once said, “For the believer, no proof is needed, for the skeptic, no proof is possible.”  For my part, as Paul said, let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  If someone does tithe because I say so, I would say they need to stop.  Unless they see it from the Lord, their heart is not going to be in it, and there is no point in practicing what you do not really believe.

That being said, the entire circus of accusation, and distortion, is a detriment to the Christian ministry. 

I am very thankful to pastor the church that I do.  Maybe I should do it more, but as best I can recall, and looking through my notes, I’ve preached one series of messages on tithing and stewardship in the last five years.  I have no idea who in this church practices tithing.  I am not worried about it.  We always have enough to do what the Lord leads us to do.  I firmly believe that the Lord pays for what He orders.

That being said, it is an affront, and a stumbling block, for honest Bible believing, gospel preaching ministries to attempt to discredit them, and undermine their work,  in the eyes of a lost and dying world, by labeling them for all the world to see, as money mongrols. 

Not taking aim at those who preach tithing, because we don’t like that particular preacher, would be a wonderful change worth making.

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15 comments on “Tithing Turmoil, and the Critical Critics

  1. REPLY TO CHANGE WORTH MAKING

    https://changeworthmaking.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/tithing-turmoil-and-the-critical-critics/

    Tithing will not cease from our agenda until this false vestige of the Old Covenant law has been purged from our churches. It keeps the New Covenant church in legalism and draws the anathema of Paul in Galatians 1:7-9; 3:1.

    Why should we want Ed Young. He is yours. All yours. He merely extends your false tithing theology to its ultimate conclusion. If it is such an important principle for the church, then admit it and join Ed Young. Otherwise admit error and drop it.

    Concernng Kenneth Copeland, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, and all of the other prosperity preachers – isn’t it amazing that ALL of these theach tithing” That is where they STARTED going wrong. And do not forget Benny Hinn and John Hagee. Tithing is the leaven of the prosperity gospel and tithing leads to the other false doctrine.

    Most preachers who preach 10% are willingly ignorant and do not want to discuss the matter because they would LOSE the argument every time with a knowledgeable Bible scholar.
    ………………………….
    “This preacher could say that those who use, the “farmers, herdsman, cattle, sheep, produce, Israel, only arguments” as reasons not to tithe are being legalistic.”
    ………………………….
    Incredibly opposite logic! While Genesis alone (before the Law) contains the word “money” 22 times, money is NEVER inclluded in any of the 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe.

    While YOU may not use the Law to teach tithing, but almost everybody else does. Take a look at the Baptist Faith and Message and look at the tithing texts used under Stewardship!
    ………………………………..
    “Those who rightly teach the tithe do not use the law to explain it. It is from those who don’t want to tithe that use the Law to avoid it.”
    ………………………………..
    Nobody can “rightly teach the tithe.” Abram’s tithe was only from pagan spoils of war in obedience to the law of the land. And Jacob’s tithe was an example of him telling God what to do. You have no valid pre-law or post-law principle for tithing which applies to Christians today. Give it up.
    ……………………………..
    “For someone to say that since the tithe was only for farmers, and herdsman, Christians have no responsibility to it; is like saying, since everyone in the Bible that gave were wearing tunics, and that’s not us, we shouldn’t be asked to give.”
    ………………………………..
    Tunics? What are you talking aaout? Farmers and herdsmen did not wear tunics! As a tentmaker working and living in pagan lands, Paul could not and did not teach tithing. You spiritualize the literal Word of God by redefining the tithe. We do not oppose giving. That is your paper tiger. We support generous sacrificial giving which often means MORE than 10%.
    ……………………………..
    “Too often they cannot discern the difference between a principle and a command.”
    ……………………………..
    Never can you defend your statement that tithing was/is a universal moral law. You would have the very poorest in society tithe first and do without essential medicine, food and shelter. Shame on you. Scratch 1 Timothy 5:8 out of your Bible.
    ……………………………..
    “When I preach that God gets the best and we live off the rest, and someone takes issue with that, why is it that no one examines their motives?”
    ……………………………..
    Lev 27:33 He shall not search whether it be good or bad….
    ………………………………….
    “Why doesn’t someone want to give God the best and live off the rest?”
    …………………………………….
    Do you ever read the Bible?
    Lev 27:33 He shall not search whether it be good or bad…
    1 Tim 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
    …………………………………….
    “That being said, the entire circus of accusation, and distortion, is a detriment to the Christian ministry.”
    ……………………………………….
    The entire pro-tithing circus of fals doctrine and distortion is a detriment to the Christian ministry. It does not harm those in John MacArthur’s ministry.
    …………………………………
    “I’ve preached one series of messages on tithing and stewardship in the last five years. I have no idea who in this church practices tithing. I am not worried about it. We always have enough to do what the Lord leads us to do. I firmly believe that the Lord pays for what He orders.”
    ………………………………
    In other words, YOU do not need to preach and teach tithing. What are you harping about then?

    Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
    SBC Yesterday Blogspot

    • Hello, Dr. Kelly

      Whether you know it or not, you are helping to prove my point. This article is not about “tithing” is about those who ascribe motives to the tithing teachers.

      YES, I will firmly admit that there are men who teach the tithe out of dishonest motives, and less than pure reasons, but not all of them.

      I can stand sure footed and say, I recognize that you do not see in the scriptures what I see in the scriptures, but I do not impune your motives. My point in this article is that I could.

      My primary issue here is that those who criticize the tithe cannot do so on the simple basis of disagreeing with interpretations of scripture, they do so by slinging accusations at the motives of men like me.

      You said, “Most preachers who preach 10% are willingly ignorant”. I could say “Most people who don’t like the tithe are willingly ignorant.”

      As I said in my article, whatever motive you can ascribe to me for teaching the example of the tithe, can be ascribed to you for rejecting the example of the tithe.

      It is this slandering of each other that is a detriment to the Christian faith.

      I look in the scriptures, and see it. You obviously don’t. There is nothing malicious on either of our part, and there are countless men like both of us. There need not be blanket categorization, or impuning of everyone’s motives for what they see or don’t see.

      That being said, the “principle” of 10% in giving does in fact transcend times and dispensations.

      Hebrews 7:8 speaking of our High Priest Jesus Christ, after the order of Melchizedek, and after the law, speaks in the present tense with ongoing action, says “And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.”

      Post Law, To Christ Our High Priest, Ongoing Practice.

      We are not under the law, but we are, under grace to live by every principle of righteousness that the Lord has ever shown us.

      • jared says:

        I feel that i must interject here.

        Changeworthmaking-Post Law, To Christ Our High Priest, Ongoing Practice.

        – In Revelation Christ is also the lamb of God, but that doesn’t mean we are to offer lambs. (1 Peter 1:19)

        – Jesus is also the first fruit, and first born from the dead, but we don’t still offer our first born sons, or first ripe crops, or even our first paycheck of the year(1 Corinthians 15:20)

        – Is there a command to obey tithing in commemoration of Jesus’ priesthood, just as we obey the Lords table to commemorate his death?

        – jared

      • Gary Arnold says:

        You said, “And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.”

        Hebrews was written before the Temple was destroyed, and the Israelites continued tithing until the Temple was destroyed; thus, the present tense.

  2. I tithed for 30 years and did not believe in it. Now that I’ve studied it for an entire year I can see why it does not work in the spiritualized version it is taught in. It the biggest scam far more damaging than Bernie Madeoff.

    • Tymon says:

      Dr. Frank,

      You’ve been singing this tune of having tithed for 30 years etc, etc. I find it rather a stale tune. However, it’s sort of interesting you noted you ‘did not believe in it’ – which is kind of sounding like your unbelief about it permeated your 30 odd years of tithing. I guess not.

      However, your personal belief (or unbelief thereof) really has nothing to do with tithing in itself. What about the many Christians who have been tithing and not found themselves in your 30-year-old problem? It does not appear that many who oppose tithing for Christians ever talk about the reality of those who tithe and have a different testimony.

      To say that tithing ‘does not work’, what exactly was it supposed to “work”? How is your giving today working – and what does it “work”? It may not work for you in the manner you assumed all your 30 years or so, but is that an experience across board for everyone who tithes today?

      After having argued against tithing for Christians, it became obvious that most of the anti-tithing arguments in circulation are excuses. I tried to find answers for myself by asking some of the questions I’m asking here – and the conclusions I came to moved me to start tithing. I haven’t looked back since then, and I don’t see how your claims about 30 years etc stands here or there.

  3. Not convinced tithing is true anymore after 30 years of false teaching.

  4. Tony Isaac says:

    Reading your piece gives me the impression that you are trying to defend yourself. Am sorry but that in itself raises question marks about this doctrine itself! If you believe that tithing is a requirement for today’s Christian, why not point us to the right scriptures instead of throwing stones?

    You say you do not teach tithing using the law, I wonder how else you can teach it. Seeing that it is not something the apostles taught nor did they require it from the early church. As Israelites living in Israel at the time, it would have been absurd for the apostles to demand tithes from the early church as everyone then knew that tithes were only paid on agricultural produce and livestock from within the land of Israel and were to be received by physical descendants of Levi alone. Even hinting about it could have gotten them in big trouble because that would have been illegal.

    Without even pulling out scriptures, common sense dictates that demanding that people give a minimum is a law in itself. Something the apostle Paul did not do when he encouraged the church at Corinth to give. His words were “give as much as you are able”. And that sounds more like freedom to me.

  5. jared says:

    Of all the years in my research of tithing, I have never met a person who teaches against tithing and also teaches against giving God the best. Giving God the best and giving tithes are not synonymous, unless our giving should begin and also end at 10%. A widow may be giving her best, but what about a billionaire? Who can argue?

    Let’s not forget the command to not give the best 10th in (Leviticus 27:33), and the examples of those not required to give a tenth of their increase (Num. 31:9, 27-29). Where can we even begin to defend the 10% benchmark, let alone the best of the tenth?

    – jared

  6. Gary Arnold says:

    When dealing with money, how can one give God the best? One dollar is as good as any other dollar, so it doesn’t even make sense to say we should give the best to God when referring to money.

    Should the first of our money go to God?

    OLD TESTAMENT – THE FIRST OF THE FRUITS SHOULD GO TO GOD
    Proverbs 3:9 (KJV) “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:”

    NEW TESTAMENT – THE WORKER SHOULD BE FIRST TO RECEIVE A SHARE OF THE FRUIT
    2 Timothy 2:6 (KJV) “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.”

    1 Timothy 5:8 (KJV) “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

    The New Testament makes it clear that we are to use the FIRST of our income to take care of ourselves and our family. We are talking about needs, here, not just anything we want. Then we should give generously from what is left.

    God never established any “principle” of ten percent. ONLY farmers and herdsmen tithed in the Old Testament, not wage earners. How can there be a “principle” there about giving when the tithe was a law, not a principle?

    Abraham gave a tenth of war spoils. Was that a principle that came from God? I would have no say no since during the time of Moses, God required that only 1.1% of war spoils be given.

    Anyone can go through the Bible and make up a bunch of so-called “principles” that really did not, and do not exist. These “principles” are man made, not of God.

    Since God defined the tithe in Leviticus 27:30-33 to be on crops and animals, we need to understand that the crops and animals were assets that came from God’s hand, or God’s labor, NOT income from man’s labor. The Israelites did, in fact, have income from the sale and/or barter exchange of those assets but God did NOT ask or command a tithe from that income.

    IF there is any principle involved, it would have nothing to do with income.

    • Tymon says:

      Gary: “IF there is any principle involved, it would have nothing to do with income”

      This sounds like you don’t know what a ‘principle’ is. A principle is not a legalistic argument – it is the direct opposite of arguing by the letter. In this sense, the apostle Paul used the Law of Moses to teach principles of giving in the New Testament. If you use the KJV (or choose one as you may), you will find Paul saying that the Law of Moses is written for US – Christians!! This is the text in the ESV (emphasis mine) –

      Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for OUR SAKE, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. (1 Corinthians 9:8-10)

      In the same passage he drew his principles for support of ministers directly from the Law of Moses –

      Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? IN THE SAME WAY, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:13-14, ESV)

      If the apostle was not drawing principles from the OT (and particularly from the Law of Moses), was he then asking us to follow the literal application of those verses from the Law of Moses? If you say yes (as many antitithers often do), I wonder when YOU have ever gone to Israel to draw “ox” and “crops” to present as your own offering in Church!

      The one thing I find seriously at odds is the legalism that permeates the arguments of anti-tithers! I don’t understand why these simple examples of drawing principles from the Law of Moses is conveniently glossed over by many who oppose tithing.

  7. Wes says:

    From what I’ve seen, those who believe in and teach the Tithe place themselves in a dilemma. I have yet to see a pro-Tither explore the Bible to see what it says about Tithing. Each and every one I have met or listened to claim that Tithing is an eternal principle.

    Where do they get this from? I can’t find it in the Bible. And if we’re going to be Bible-believing Christians, we can’t twist, distort, edit, or change the Bible to suit our beliefs. We need to change our beliefs to match those in the Bible. Otherwise, we are lying when we claim to believe in the Bible.

    So when looking in the Bible I find that Tithing is part of the Law. Moses has a lot to say about the Tithe. It was a command from God to the Israelites to provide for those who had no inheritance: “the Levite, the stranger, the orphan and the widow” (Deut 26:12). And the reason for the Tithe was so “that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied” (Deut 26:12).

    It doesn’t say the Tithe is to be used for advancing God’s Work, funding Missions, growing the Church, paying the Pastor, or any other reason cited for Tithing in our modern era.

    Jesus also has things to say about the Tithe. He told the teachers of the Law and Pharisees to Tithe, but also told them that even as they were doing so, they were hypocrites for neglecting more important aspects of the Law (Matthew 23:23).

    Some people mistakenly believe that because Jesus supported it, it means that we should Tithe. These people seem to be ignorant of when the New Covenant began. It did not start with Jesus’ BIRTH, but instead with His DEATH. So the WHOLE Law was in FULL effect during Jesus’ lifetime. It would have been SINFUL for Jesus to tell people to stop obeying the Law.

    Another problem I’ve seen with pro-Tithers is that they seem to rely on Hebrews 7, Genesis 14, and Malachi 3. The reason I have a problem with this is because Hebrews 7 doesn’t pluck Tithing out of the Old Covenant and insert it into the New Covenant. All it does is show that Levi, even though he received the Tithe, had also paid the Tithe to a form of Jesus, which makes Jesus a higher and better Priest than those of Levi.

    Abraham’s Tithe is no Tithe at all. It was spoils of war. Abraham was blessed before he Tithed. Abraham was rich before he tithed. Abraham did not keep any of the increase for himself. And Abraham “Tithed” only once in his lifetime.

    Not exactly what the modern Church teaches. If we waited until we were blessed and wealthy before we Tithed, then Tithed from the stuff we got from others, without keeping any for ourselves, and never Tithing again, I’m pretty sure the Pastor would not approve. Yet for some reason, pro-Tithers hold this up as an example. Astounding!

    And many people seem to neglect that Malachi is part of the Old Covenant. Malachi was telling the Levites (the spiritual leaders of Israel) that they needed to lead properly.
    Malachi 1:6
    “It is you priests who show contempt for my name.”
    Malachi 2:1
    “And now, you priests, this warning is for you.”
    Malachi 3:9
    You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.

    God is saying the whole nation is under a curse because the Levites were robbing Him.

    Malachi 3:10
    Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

    The only ones who brought Tithes into the storehouse were the Levites.
    Neh 10:38b
    “the Levites are to bring a tenth of the tithes up to the house of our God, to the storerooms of the treasury.”

    So when Pastors use Malachi to back up their Tithe teachings, they are doing two things wrong:
    1) They are placing us under the Old Covenant with it’s laws and commands
    2) They are either ignorant of the fact or deliberately teaching against the fact that Malachi speaks against the PRIESTS.

    I have yet to see anyone use the Bible to effectively support the modern-day Tithe.

    • Tymon says:

      Wes: “Abraham’s Tithe is no Tithe at all.”

      Why then did the Hloy Spirit call it TITHES in both the Old Testament (Genesis 14:20) and the New Testament (Hebrews 7:6)? When people go to great lengths to argue out of misdirected passion, they end up slipping up (or worse, categorically contradicting God’s inspired Word) – which is what shows up in your comments.

  8. Wes says:

    This is NOT to say that I do not give and believe that others should not give. But as the New Covenant teaches, giving should be:
    2 Corinthians 9:7
    “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

    Again, this doesn’t point fingers at the congregation. This points the finger at the Pastor, who insists that everyone “give” a minimum of 10% and that giving actually begins at 11%. This teaching contradicts what the Bible says about giving, that each person should decide for themselves, that people should be eager to give, that no one should tell them how much to give. Giving should be voluntary because God wants us to give cheerfully.

    God doesn’t want us to fake it till we make it, pretend to enjoy it, or force ourselves to be happy. God doesn’t want us to manufacture joy. God wants us to experience the joy that He has to offer us! God wants us to give what he places in our heart to give, whether it is $1 or $100, without anyone saying “you have to give a certain amount, or God won’t be happy.”

  9. Tom R says:

    Very convenient to just throw Ed Young under the bus as you did. But what exactly don’t you like about him collecting account numbers to make it easier for his congregation to obey God in the tithe?

    Why do you stop at Ed Young? He is an easy target for you I’m sure, as he is so flashy and hip, and people have been jumping on him for his excessive lifestyle.

    But where do you stand on the comments of Mac Brunson and Steve Gaines? Is God judging America because of how many non-tithers there are?

    Is a Christian who is struggling financially and employed, sinning by not giving 10% to his/her church?

    Must a Christian give 10% to their church, or can the Holy Spirit move in them to give some to the church and some to other Christian ministries?

    Do you agree with Mac Brunson that “God collects what he is owed”…and that if a Christian does not tithe God will get it from them in other ways like broken down appliances or car wrecks?

    So please, Jeff, don’t stop with Ed Young. He is too easy of a target. Address the statements from more mainstream evangelicals who have said the very same thing Young has.

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