Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tyranny of the Tithe: Insight for Living on Tithing

One of the most outspoken critics of the pro-tithe position is Russell Kelly, PHD. You can find his site by clicking here. This site is very thorough and goes into great detail.

One of the things I appreciate about the site is the quotes he includes from recognized church leaders such as J. Vernon McGee, Walter Elwell, and (to a lesser extent) James Kennedy.

Here is an excerpt from an email by a representative for Insight for Living about the ministry and Swindoll's position on tithing:

Insight for Living, October 15, 2007

... Chuck believes that the tithe was part of the Law, not New Testament teaching.

...We are not under the Law.

The New Testament doesn’t teach tithing or how often we are to gather as a church.

...Under the Law of Moses tithing was an obligation, not an option. It meant paying a precise percentage of one’s goods, produce or income to the Lord. ... Merrill Unger helps up sort it all out in his Unger’s Bible Dictionary [Dallas/Moody] and I encourage you to read the entire article.

...The [Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord, Dallas] cautions us about using [Malachi 3:10] to support church giving. ... While not requiring a tithe of believers today, the New Testament does speak of God’s blessing on those who give generously to the needs of the church.

The New Testament does not command church members to tithe like Jews in the Old Testament. The people in the early church did not tithe per se but they did give regularly to the work of the ministry following the principle of the tithe. We find several references to special offerings for specific projects (2 Cor 8 & 9) that were given in addition to the early Christian’s normal pattern of giving. So, although they weren’t required to give a specific percent of their income they were giving regularly.

Under the New Covenant giving is a matter of the heart, not percentages. ...

Still the answer remains, how much should we give? The answer is this, As much as the Spirit leads. The percentage and frequency of our giving ought to be a personal matter between each person and the Lord. Ten percent may be a good amount for you. Certainly the Lord considered ten percent a fair amount for the Hebrews. But the Lord may lead you to give less or more. ...

Church leaders who pressure you to give a certain amount are robbing you of the joy of being a cheerful giver. They are putting you under compulsion and making you feel guilty, which is not the way God wants us to give. As a member of Stonebriar Community Church, where Chuck is the Senior Pastor, I have not heard Church try to manipulate people or use guilt as a motivation. In fact I have not heard him preach on the tithe as a rule for giving. He has taught that giving as the Spirit leads is the way to approach it.

So while Chuck feels we are not obligated to tithe like the Israelites under the law, the principle of systematic giving is a good idea for all Christians. ...

I think those who continually preach the tithe are being manipulative. It is the Holy Spirit who directs our living and that includes our giving. They are not the Holy Spirit. We are not under the Law. ... I am glad that Chuck preaches grace giving from the heart.

Warmly in Christ
Graham M Lyons, Pastor


Kristin said...

This is the post I was waiting for! Giving should be Spirit-led! That's placing control or oversight out of man's hands and into God's. That is where it belongs, really. I think that the New Testament way of giving regularly is one that meets people where they are and accepts what they have to give. If a person has a great deal of time that they give to the church, but very little money, I can see where their giving would be non-monetary, but still valuable. Does that sound logical?

Pastor Kip said...

Absolutely sounds logical, Kristin.

I know of a Methodist pastor who told just that to his congregation as the economy hit everybody hard. He said that even though they may not be able to give as much money, their time and service was valuable as well. I'm not sure what the church treasurer thought about it, but I think the pastor was spot on . . .

Russell Earl Kelly said...

Although I greatly appreciate your great comments about my site, I h ave concluded that Chuch Swindoll DOES TEACH TITHING. He reintroduces it as a doctrien for the church in the following. NOtice item #2.

Growing Deeper in the Christian Life

Charles Swindoll, pages 354-355

(1) It is in the church … where we learn faithfulness.

(2) It is in the church that we first learn to give and to tithe.

(3) It is in the church that we first learn generosity.

(4) It is in the church that discipleship is carried out.

(5) It is in the church that accountability is modeled.

(6) It is in the church that marriage is upheld and singleness is dignified without your being hustled.

(7) It is in the church of Jesus Christ that we find the doctrinal roots that establish us in our faith.

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD