Friday, September 12, 2008

Freed from Tithing, Free to Give - Part 1

In the past I've mentioned that I want to do a series of posts on "the tithe." Well, here I am, finally doing it! Why am I doing this? It's been my observation that "the tithe," as it's taught in various Christian ("New Covenant") churches in various ways, has put people under a lot of unnecessary bondage in their walks with God. Various Old Covenant scriptures are used in the teaching of the tithe in Christian churches, with various assumptions being made as to how these scriptures apply to the New Covenant Church. But are these scriptures being used properly? Are the assumptions proper? I don't think so, and I'm going to show from the scriptures themselves how they are terribly misused in the teaching of "the tithe" in the church today.

First Things First
In almost all "tithe" teachings in the Christian church, one scripture in particular is used predominantly, and one assumption in particular about that scripture is predominantly made. You probably know the scripture well. Malachi 3:8-11. The words in this passage that most people are familiar with are "bring all the tithes into the storehouse." The assumption that is made is that "the local church" is the storehouse.

We'll get into that a little later, but we really need to put first things first. See, while many Christians start with Malachi 3 in their teaching of the tithe (or at least highlight it in their justification of teaching Christians to "tithe"), Malachi 3 was actually the last thing said in Old Covenant scripture about the tithe. Malachi was not giving instructions about tithing. Rather God, through this prophet, was reprimanding His people for not keeping the tithing laws He had already given them. If we start with Malachi 3, we're destined to get it all wrong right from the start.

If we want to see what tithing is really all about, then we need to look back to the scriptures that show the original tithing instructions. As we do this, my hope is that we'll begin to dispel some of the false assumptions that the New Covenant church has made in regards to tithing. Is the New Covenant church to be a people who give? Surely! I think we find that idea supported all throughout the New Covenant scriptures. But how about New Covenant people "tithing" ten percent of their income to a local church? Do we find that idea supported anywhere in the scriptures? I think the truth about all this will unfold as we start with first things first, and move on from there.

Part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

11 comments:

  1. You may want to read this?

    http://alanhiu.blogspot.com/2008/08/tithing.html

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  2. Joelski...go here..."http://www.citychurchinternational.net/2008.html".....listen to "Biblical Tithing (A Progressive Revelation)"...and tell me what you think. I am keen to hear your thoughts...

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  3. Hi Cyberanger,

    I'll be upfront and honest with you and tell you that a lot of what I'm going to share from the scriptures about tithing in this series does not line up with the article you linked to. :) That's not to say that there's no room for discussion on it all, and I appreciate you linking to that blog post.

    I do think, however, that I should mention beforehand that in Part 2 and subsequent posts, I take a pretty strong stand in trying to dispel some of those ideas. :) I fully realize that the subject is a sticky one, and I want everyone to know that I'm simply sharing what I've learned as I've studied the scriptures.

    Craig,

    I've downloaded the mp3 and I'll give it a listen when I'm able. I'm not sure if Rob teaches "tithing" as a Christian principle (having not listened to it yet), but I'll just say right from the start that my personal stance is that the only reason tithing should be taught in the Christian church is to show how it's not a Christian principle. :) I'm hoping that the scriptures and thoughts that I share in this series of posts will make that point well.

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  4. hi Joel,

    Feel free to share :)
    We can always agree to disagree..

    Hope you will find this useful too.
    http://www.stillhaventfound.org/2008/02/21/thoughts-on-new-creation-church-tithing-and-prosperity/

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  5. i am interested in what you have to say.

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  6. Russell Earl Kelly, PHD9/12/2008 11:00 AM

    Check my site for over 150 articles opposing NT tithing. I wrote PHD thesis on the subject.www.tithing-russkelly.com

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  7. Hi Joel. I understand the new covenant expression to be giving as one sees fit,out of a willing heart,and not out of compulsion-as I think Amy has said on her blog. There is no tithe in the new covenant. I think John MacArthur once said that the tithe in theocratic Israel was somewhat equivalent to someone paying their taxes wherever they live today! So far as it's a necessary principle for civil governments. Like all the bringing over of Old Covenant law as a 'rule of
    life with Christianized modifications',it comes from Covenant theology's systematics which tends to flatten out the bible,lose the newness of the new covenant,equate old Covenant Israel with the church(I'm not a dispensationalist!),and thus does some dodgy spiritualizing in the same vein...looking forward to putting some meat on the bones of these thoughts,with your thoughts.

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  8. Joel, don't let us down here...
    We are not under law.
    We don't "get" through the hole we "give" through; we are already blessed in Christ.
    Yes, we give locally to keep the power on, but not based on a percentage of what we "owe". We give as an act of worship and that means everywhere, all the time, and more than money.
    A truth we have found: Whatever grips you, will have control over you. Nothing should control you, but the love of God. You will discover a new dimension to "giving" in the freedom that brings.
    Are you going back to Abraham?? Before the law?? :)

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  9. Cyberanger,

    Yep indeed we don't have to agree on it. :) My hope is to show what the scriptures say, and add my thoughts about it, and people can decide for themselves.

    Nancy,

    Thanks for your comment. If nothing else, this will hopefully provoke thought in people who already have a wide range of thoughts and opinions.

    Russell,

    I quickly glanced at your website and I like your initial word on NT giving. I'll take a look at the rest of your site as I have time.

    Philip,

    I think these posts of mine will essentially echo what you're saying here, looking at it in somewhat of a similar light.

    RJW,

    Looks like you'll enjoy this series of posts. :) Abraham is up next. He's the primary character in Part 2.



    To all - indeed as I previously said this is a subject that is somewhat sticky. People do not all agree on all of it. I'll do my best to point out what the scriptures say, and if my conclusions make sense to you or if you disagree, feel free to speak up if you're led.

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  10. Joel, I'm so glad you've finally started your series. There's so much that can be said to show that New Covenant believers are not bound by the tithe. You coined a term, "New Covenant cheerful giving" which I think expresses it well.

    I look forward to reading your series.

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  11. Aida,

    I've always wanted to do this, and it's partially through conversations with you and others a few months ago, and on John F's blog more recently, that I was 'inspired' to just go ahead and do it. I don't expect everyone to agree on every aspect of it, but the main thing I wanted to do was to look at the verses in their contexts and differentiate them with how the church teaches them today. It's a stark contrast, IMO.

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