Drinking Deeply

Friday, February 10, 2006 at 1:07 PM

Tithing

All my planned posts on tithing are complete:

Tithing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

This post is written in response to Puritan Belief's post against tithing.

I. Positive presentation for tithing
II. Response to the arguments presented in Puritan Belief's post.

Let me preface this by saying that Puritan Belief keeps an excellent blog with many insightful posts, as well as excellent "history" posts looking at how some of the heroes of the faith came to Christ and lived out their faith. Check out the blog, it's pretty cool.

I. Positive presentation for tithing.

It cannot be denied that tithing was required and taught in the OT:

Malachi 3
6"For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, 'How shall we return?' 8Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, 'How have we robbed you?' In your tithes and contributions. 9You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. 12Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.
The question is: "Is tithing taught and required in the NT?" Notice that I am actually taking an even stronger position. In all reality, the burden of proof is on those who oppose tithing because they need to prove that the NT negates tithing (for if it didn't, then tithing should still in all respects be in force from the OT.)

Never the less, we do have explicit commands in the NT for the giving of the congregation to those who teach. The number 10% is not mentioned, but command to give is still there.

1 Corinthians 9:

3This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife,[a] as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

Here, Paul is defending his ministry from his accusors. The implied accusation is "Paul isn't being supported, he's not a real apostle." What does Paul say here? First, he defends the rights of a teacher. He has the right to eat and drink. He has the right to take a believing wife. He has a right to refrain from working for a living.

Stop there. Paul has a right to refrain from working for a living. Recall that Paul is writing this letter to a church that he planted. Paul is talking about his rights as the person who planted the church, and he is claiming a right of support. They as a church ought to support Paul financially so that he does not have to work for a living. Paul gives his reason: "I've planted the vineyard (your church), I deserve a share in the fruits." Lest you think that he's talking about some spiritual gift, Paul continues:
8Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9For 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? 10Does 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. 11If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?
Paul has sown spiritual things, and now deserves to reap material things. This is a rightful claim that others have upon the church of Corinth (presuably the elders), and one that Paul has even more. This right of Paul presents an obligation on the church to provide. This is an onus not on just the collective "church at Corinth" but upon the people of the church. They are to share their material benefits because they have been blessed spiritually.

In the same way, we as Christians, as we are learning from those who are teaching us (our pastors) are to share our material blessings (tithe) with them. What does this mean? It means that we are under compulsion.

Using the same argument Paul states in 1 Timothy 5:
17Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages."
Elders who rule well should be considered worthy of double honor. What does double honor mean here? The very next verse makes it clear that this honor is pay. Elders who rule well are to be worthy of double pay. This is a command to Timothy in running the church, but it is also a command to us. If we have received abundantly, then we are to give even more abundantly.

Finally, we have Jesus' words in Matthew 23:23)

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

Woe to the Pharisees for they tithe but neglect the weightier matters of the law. But this serves also to reaffirm the necessity of the tithe, for Jesus continues: Thes you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. What are we not to neglect? Tithing. Yes, there are more important things than the tithe. But that doesn't mean that tithing is no longer commanded for the NT believers. Jesus doesn't say "tithe as you feel compelled," no, he says not to neglect the tithe while remembering justice mercy and faithfulness. What is this tithe? The tithe that was required of the Pharisees in the OT and thus by extension, of us in the NT.

All of what we have is God's, the tithe is just a giving of what is already God's to him. All of what we have is God's in an ordinary way, so we will give 10% in a special way to represent it.

II. Responding to objections:

1) Tithing is abused by corrupt and greedy ministers.

I mention this only to set it aside. This is irrelevant to the point. Even if we said that we didn't have to give to those who are greedy and corrupt, it is often much more the case that the pastor is competent. For every corrupt and greedy minister there are dozens if not hundreds of corrupt and greedy Christians.

2) Jesus is from the order of Melchizedek, which abolished the tithe.

This argument comes from Hebrews 7.

Namely, that the order of Melchizedek is higher than that of Levi.

But what does that prove? Does it prove the abolishment of the tithe? No, rather it demonstrates the abolishment of the laws of the Levitical priesthood. The laws that do not pertain to the levitical priesthood are still completely in effect. We are still commanded to not murder. We are still commanded to love God, to love our neighbors.

The question then becomes "were tithes part of the Levitical priesthood or were they practiced as part of the Melchizedek one too?"

The answer is obvious for the passage refers to the fact that Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek. Tithing was thus a part of the Melchizedek priesthood as well, and thus is part of it today, with Jesus Christ as our high priest and intercessor.

3) Requiring tithing brings people under the curse of the Law.

I fear this betrays a misunderstanding of the curse of the Law. The curse of the law was condemnation. The law is good (Romans 7:12), let us not forget that. Requiring people to tithe is the same as requiring them not to murder. With the cross of Jesus Christ we are freed from the curse, because we are now able to tithe freely and willingly, because we now have the Spirit of God.

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Blogger Puritan Belief said...

Thank you for putting your thoughts down. I to have gained so much from reading through your blog and the extra studies you sent me by email.

The post I did on "why tithing is wrong" is not something that I rushed into. It is something that I have been working through for over 2 years now. Men far older then myself in the Lord have shown me the errors in tithing. And the freedom that comes from GIVING under the NEW COVENANT.

Please read some of my responses at Puritan Belief as they deal with a lot of what has been said here.

You based that the tithe should be kept using a verse I also used.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others."

The Pharisees are most certainly trying to justify themselves by the Law of Moses here and you and I both know this as did Jesus which is why he responded. Look Tithing is easy (even though I bet EVEN THEY never fullfilled tithing as I am sure you haven't either) Then he loads them up with having to complete the whole law including Justice and Mercy of which they fail miserably. To say that we Christians under the covenant of His blood should be following all the Laws such as the Pharasees is something that I know you aren't doing otherwise for one you wouldn't have time to be writing a blog.

Hebrews 7 makes it clear that Abraham tithed to Melchisedec because it was sufficient and done ONCE. Hence it was fullfilled and FINISHED. Not to show that we should do it. It then follows that because of Abrahams tithe the LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD could tithe for it says "Livi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham."

Now if you still think that it is for us then I say what you should do is stop tithing right now and next time you win some money or someone gives you something then tithe just from your bounty and ONLY ONCE then you have done as Abraham has done. For he never tithed from his own income only of the spoils of war and only once.

Next I think it obvious that there are many Ordinances that the levitical priesthood and Israel did which you don't. May I point out that the Levitical priesthood is finished all together for it was not sufficient.

Now you ended by telling me that the Law is Good. I agree with this fully. But first let me tell you that I am not under Moses law next I am not trying to complete all its ordinances for I have found a more excellent way and it is the way of Jesus. For he became every curse for me that the law demanded. I am his slave and slave to righteousness. Does this mean that I start murdering stealing etc... GOD FORBID

Now this proves a point I am not calling you foolish.

Are ye so foolish, having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh.

I will say to you exactly what Jesus said when people boast in tithing. Tithing is good...as long as you are fullfilling all the other tenants of the law and never transgress from even one. (Not just 10 commandments I am talking ordinances as well)

Next all the great verses you gave from 1 Corinthians 9 & 1 Timothy 5 are great IF THEY BE DONE BY FAITH IN THE SPIRIT OF GIVING.

I will leave it here, and you are welcome to the last say on this issue.

Kindest Regards & thanks for challenging.  

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Blogger Doug E. said...

Puritan,

My main concern is that you are confusing the cerimonial law of the OT with the moral law. We will not be perfected with cerimonial law nor are we required any more to keep it. This represents much of the levitical law. But as far as the moral law goes we are to keep it. Hence our discussion on adultery or any other moral sin.

It seems to me that the idea of giving is a moral principle not just a ceremonial one. God has commanded us to give. Abraham gave to Melchizedek not because He decided that it would be a nice thing to do. He knew that giving was required.

If I were to ask you if it would be right to never give any money to the poor or to the church, my guess is that you would say it would be a sin. This is because you know that God has a moral law (which will not be abolished) that you are to follow.

Now on to the next question how much are we to give? Many Catholics say we should take vows of poverty and give it all away. Others say that we should not give any. But if we look at the administration of this moral principle throughout scripture, 10% is the usual standard. Yes there were other times they were to give more, but the standard is 10%. If God thought this was good to use with His priesthood then why not the new testament Church.

Only if you can say that it would not be a sin for a christian to never give a thing to the poor or the church (not thinking of extreme cases such as a man alone on an island for his entire life) can you say tithing is abolished. Since I don't think Biblically it could be said, the moral grounds for tithing still exist.

Enjoying the discussion.

Your Brother,

Doug  

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