Should Christians Tithe?

Posted: September 16, 2007 in Uncategorized

This is a very solid article on the topic of tithing. Read the entire article first and then of course I will have something to say on this at the end of this post.

**Side note.

This article was found on the Stand to Reason website. S.T.R is a Christian apologetics ministry. In case you are unfamiliar with apologetics, here is a brief overview–

Christian apologetics is the field of study concerned with the systematic defense of Christianity. The term “apologetic” comes from the Greek word apologia (απολογία), which means in defense of; therefore a person involved in Christian or Bible Apologetics is a defender of Christianity. Someone who engages in Christian apologetics is called a “Christian apologist”. Christian apologetics have taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul of Tarsus, including writers such as Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, and continuing today with the modern Christian community through authors such as Karl Keating and Jimmy Akin. Apologists have based their defense of Christianity on favoring interpretations of historical evidence, philosophical arguments, scientific investigation, and other avenues. (source)

Apologetics was something introduced to me some years ago by a good friend of mine in Atlanta. He invited me to hear Ravi Zacharias (a well-known Christian apologist) who was speaking on the campus of Georgia Tech. Atlanta is full of churches that know how to shout, preach and pray, but very few of them adequately train their people on how to make a defense of the gospel without relying on catchy religious, TBN-esque phrases. Watching Zacharias comfortably hold his own in an open debate in a room full of about 400 or so non-religious folks on moral and philosophical issues was something I had never seen. Usually the minister comes to talk to the people, but in this case he was challenging a campus full of analytical students to come to the mike–and the line was long. The exchanges were very good (even heated at times), but nothing silly. For a long time I always felt that I was checking my brain in at the door anytime I went to church. Apologetics has shown me that intellectualism is also part of the gospel message.

**END side note

Should Christians Tithe?

by Gregory Koukl

There is an obvious disjunction in the Scripture between the Old Covenant period and the New Covenant Period. I’m not referring to the division between Malachi and Matthew. That’s merely a textual division. Jesus’ entire life was lived under an Old covenant system even though the events of His life are recorded in the New Testament. Jesus initiated the New Covenant at the end of His life at the Last Supper, but it wasn’t until Pentecost that it began in force. The theological disjunction, then, is pre-Pentecost and post-Pentecost, not Old and New Testament.

This doesn’t justify throwing out the entire Old Testament. Rather, it informs our hermeneutic so that when we look at the Scripture we have to ask if our interpretation needs to take this disjunction into consideration. Are there some teachings, precepts, or promises that are strictly Old Covenant–meant for pre-Pentecost Israel–and are not meant to be directly applied to the Church today?

For example, the dietary laws of the Old Testament, the worship liturgy of ancient Israel, the animal sacrifice system etc. are obviously changed. The enduring moral precepts, however, have been repeated in the New Testament writings–that is, in Acts and the Epistles–and are still in force, though they serve a somewhat different function.

What about tithing? Is the tithe meant to be applied to post-Pentecost, New Testament Gentile believers? Clearly the tithe– the moral obligation to give one-tenth of one’s income– was an important part of the Mosaic Law given to Israel for specific purposes. Does it apply to the Church?

I think not, for a couple of reasons. First, virtually all of the support for the idea of New Testament Christian tithing comes from the Hebrew Scriptures in the context of the Old Covenant Law, not the New Covenant. Tithing was for Jew under Moses in a theocracy, not for Gentiles in the church. The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 made it clear that the burden of the Mosaic Law that was distinctly Jewish in nature should not be laid on the shoulders of the Gentile believers.

One rejoinder to my assessment is that the New Testament actually does teach the obligation of tithing. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus says, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe mint, dill, and cumin and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice, mercy and faithfulness. But these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”

This seems to be a clear statement from Jesus that justice, mercy, faithfulness and tithing are all to be practiced by believers. This amounts to a direct command by Jesus to the church to tithe.

A closer look shows this won’t work, though. Jesus’ remarks occur before Pentecost. He was simply reinforcing the teaching of the Mosaic Law already incumbent on the Jews in virtue of the fact that the Old Testament economy was still in force. (read the rest here)

This is a subject my wife and I wrestled with for a while a few years ago. I was always raised to believe that 10% of my earnings was to automatically go to my local church. Now I see that much of this re-installment of old Mosaic law in much of the church establishment today has more to do with securing a steady income for the church than a practical understanding of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. Let me put it to you this way–

In order to receive forgiveness of sin in the Old Testament under the Mosaic law, one had to offer up various animal sacrifices depending on the type of sin. When Jesus came in the New Testament, he became our sacrifice, in other words while we still need to ask God for forgiveness of sin, the sacrifice we point to now is Christ and not an animal.

I believe that much of the church system has cherry-picked this one portion of the Mosaic law simply because it involves money. Otherwise, other portions of the Mosaic law like animal sacrifices to cover sin, stoning children that are caught in disobedience to parents, killing both individuals caught in adultery, etc. would be instituted as well. Deuteronomy 18:22 says:“If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him”. This was also part of the Mosaic law. There are a lot of well-known preachers out there would would be in this category. Where is the enthusiasm for bringing this back?

In short, the tithe has turned into “fixed income” for an institution that should be largely dependent on God’s sovereignty.

So as it stands now with my wife and I on this topic, we give our money to various ministries and organizations we feel are doing the true work of the ministry instead of funneling it to just one church. Oftentimes we will go beyond 10% and give what we feel compelled to give by the Lord and not by some empty promise that if we give in the next few minutes that my dream job is waiting for me or a loved one will survive cancer. This does not mean that giving to single church is wrong, it just simply means that there is nothing supported in scripture that says you must give 10% of your income to them.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. For two good web sites full of articles similar to this one, go to http://www.shouldthechurchteachtithing.com and http://www.nomoretithing.com. May God bless your study.

  2. tithe says:

    The Spirit of God has been given to us to teach us how much to give. If God intended for us to obey the law of the tithe then he would not have given us his Spirit to use.

  3. aj says:

    So glad to hear that I am not alone in the belief. In some cases God calls us to give more than a tithe….in some cases less. My bible directs me to give as lead by the spirit. It’s interesting that some in the church want to cherry pick the old testament scriptures when it’s to their benefit. It’s also interesting how many fine buildings that are being built while poor folks struggles to make ends meet some of them because they are giving the church more money than they can afford. SMH.

  4. Mike says:

    I myself was brought up in Pentecost under the strict guidelines of anything less than 10% tithing and 5% offering to my local church pastor was “robbing God”.

    After going through some incredible times that forced me to question some very practical teachings, I was shocked to find through aggressive studies that there is MUCH of the “church” and traditional teachings in the church that are absolutely not biblical teachings. Either non-biblical, man-made, or out-of-context scriptures. While most of the biblical truths were still truths, it was more of the “church structure” oriented principals that threw me for a loop. Everything from divorce, to tithing, to pastorship and leadership is very much different than a naive, open-hearted new convert will receive.

    This article is well rounded, and puts into perspective that throughout the New Testament, tithing was not a 10 plus 5 percent issue that was for the New Testament church teaching. Those who have brought up Old Testament backup in their support have false security in their foundation of demanding that we “must” tithe.

    Interesting, the more you study the scriptures rather than just accept what a preacher shouts, the more you will find out truths that were not told to you. Which do you hinge your salvation and foundation on? A preacher, or the Word?

    http://www.housefellowship.org

  5. Gwaine says:

    I once was of the opinion that tithes had no place in the new covenant; because like almost everyone else argues these days, it was one of the commandments of the OT that was nailed to the Cross. However, only recently did I begin to realise that most arguments against tithes were mere excuses. Let me point out a few from replies preceding mine.

    1. @tithe,
    “If God intended for us to obey the law of the tithe then he would not have given us his Spirit to use.”

    My observation: does this mean that those who tithed in the OT were never given the Spirit of God? Besides, did God give us the Spirit to “use”?

    _______________

    2. @Duane,
    “In order to receive forgiveness of sin in the Old Testament under the Mosaic law, one had to offer up various animal sacrifices depending on the type of sin.”

    My observation: tithes had nothing to do with forgiveness of sins, and I don’t see how that analogy best describes what you were trying to convey.

    _______________

    It is easy to condemn what many people feel averse to – and one could find so many verses in Scripture for doing so, whatever the subject may be. However, it seems that the outcry often is based on appeal to ‘fausse patte’ sentiments, especially when people complain about money matters. I often wonder: what essentially is the real problem about this subject of tithes?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s