Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tyranny of the Tithe: Article - The Ancient Rise and Recent Fall of Tithing

Here's an interesting article on that gives a brief synopsis on how the doctrine of tithing rose to prominence. Here's a snippet (with occasional italicised emphases added by yours truly).

The early church's expectation that every Christian would tithe found formal expression at the Synod of Mâçon in 585, which embedded the practice in canon law. A millennium later, the Council of Trent sharpened this law's teeth: it provided for excommunication if any Catholic declined to contribute his tithe. This, despite the stain in the Church's monetary record that Luther had so recently uncovered in his critique of papal indulgences.

Post-Reformation Europe, however, didn't do much better: in the centuries after Luther, secular governments often acted on behalf of the churches by collecting mandatory tithes. These more closely resembled American property taxes than Jewish monetary offerings.

Without a state-imposed tithe, giving in the United States developed quite differently than in Europe. American church leaders have often emphasized the New Testament's command to give freely and cheerfully, which some leaders have cited to advocate giving less or even more than ten percent. As a result, tithing has been practiced only sporadically in the modern church, though some revival has been seen in recent decades among Baptists and elements of the Wesleyan holiness movement and Pentecostalism.

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

Tyranny of the Tithe: Various Quotes

The Encyclopedia Americana:
"It (tithing) was not practised in the early Christian church but gradually became common (in the Roman Catholic church in western Europe) by the 6th Century. The Council of Tours in 567 and the 2nd Council of Macon in 585 advocated tithing. [It was] made obligatory by civil law in the Carolingian empire in 765 and in England in the 10th Century...

Hasting’s Dictionary of the Apostolic Church:
“It is admitted universally that the payment of tithes or the tenths of possessions, for sacred purposes did not find a place within the Christian Church during the age covered by the apostles and their immediate successors.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica:
“The Christian Church depended at first on voluntary gifts from its members.”

The New Catholic Encyclopedia:
“The early Church had no tithing system ... it was not that no need of supporting the Church existed or was recognized, but rather that other means appeared to suffice.”

Easton's Bible Dictionary:
“It cannot be affirmed that the Old Testament law of tithes is binding on the Christian Church...”

C. I. Scofield - Scofield Reference Bible:
2 Corinthians 8 and 9, "In contrast with the law, which imposed giving as a divine requirement, Christian giving is voluntary, and a test of sincerity and love.”

Wycliffe Bible Dictionary of Theology:
“The silence of the NT writers, particularly Paul, regarding the present validity of the tithe can be explained only on the ground that the dispensation of grace has no more place for a law of tithing than it has for a law on circumcision.”

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:
“…the question as to whether to tithe from one's net or gross income is not answered in Scripture, nor is the question of whether to give it all to the local church or to include other ministries. We feel that such decisions should be based on personal conviction… It (tithing) is not mentioned in the New Testament except where it is describing Old Testament practices or in the Gospels where Jesus is addressing people who were under the Old Testament law.

...we should give individually, regularly, methodically, and proportionately. The matter of your giving is between you and God, and He always takes into account our circumstances.

The important thing is that we see giving as a privilege and not a burden. It should not be out of a sense of duty, but rather out of love for the Lord and a desire to see His kingdom advanced.”

Martin Luther (Sermon; August 27, 1525):
"But the other commandments of Moses, which are not [implanted in all men] by nature, the Gentiles do not hold. Nor do these pertain to the Gentiles, such as the tithe..."

Jerome Smith – The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (p. 1152.):
“Tithing is not taught in the New Testament as an obligation for the Christian under grace... Because we are not under law, but under grace, Christian giving must not be made a matter of legalistic obligation, lest we fall into the error of Galatianism…

The LORD commanded the Israelites to ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house....’ (Malachi 3:10) Christians are often urged to tithe based upon a mistaken appeal to this Old Testament text, which is wrested out of its rightful context, when applied to such a purpose... The storehouse is clearly the temple, not the church... Taken in context this passage lends no support to the mistaken doctrine of `storehouse tithing,' whereby Christians have been directed to restrict all their financial giving to their own denomination or local church, or as a variation, church members have been directed to pay the tithe to the local church, and restrict giving to outside organizations to amounts over and above the church tithe.”

Fred J. Scroggins - Tithes Are Unbiblical For The New Covenant Church (excerpt from article):
“The New Testament Church never paid tithes. Tithing was for the state of Israel, a taxation to support the priesthood of the Old Law of Moses. Christians never tithed till the Catholic Church came up with a plan. The Church needed a plan to take control of the money of the congregation. So through covetousness they brought people back under the Old Law to control them and their money...”

Greg Albrecht - Q & A About Tithing (re: what percentage to give):
“Christians are not required to give a specific percentage of their income. Christians are, however, commanded to give, as God has blessed them, as responsible stewards of their time, talents and treasures...”

“Tithing needs to be approached from the perspective that no specific or dogmatic guidelines are given to Christians...The amount we give is a choice we make, not a percentage mandated by the old covenant, or attempted to be imposed by any human or group of humans.”

“ church, pastor, or ministry can ‘demand’ or ‘require’ that a tithe, or all of the free will offerings that a Christian decides to give to God’s work, be given only to them.”

Merrill F. Unger, ed.- New Unger’s Bible Dictionary:
“To understand the Gospels one must not confuse the kingdom offered to Israel and the church of Christ. Christ fulfilled the law, died under the law, and set us free from the law. Therefore, to understand the Gospels one must expect to be on legal ground up to the cross (Matt. 10:5-6; 15:22-28; Mark 1:44)….

In understanding the New Covenant it also must be borne in mind that the full-scale revelation concerning grace is to be found in the Epistles, not in the Gospels. The Gospels do not present the doctrine of the church.”

Bruce Metzger – The Oxford Companion to the Bible:
“The New Testament nowhere explicitly requires tithing to maintain a ministry or a place of assembly.”

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary:
“In the New Testament the words tithe and tithing appear only eight times - Matt. 23:23, Luke 11:42, 18:12, Heb. 7:5-6, 8-9. All of these passages refer to Old Testament usage and to current Jewish practice. Nowhere does the New Testament expressly command Christians to tithe.”

John MacArthur, Jr. Commentary on the Book of Romans 9-16 (p.233):
“…Christians are not under obligation to give a specified amount to the work of their heavenly Father. In none of their forms do the tithe or other Old Testament levies apply to Christians.”

Charles R. Swindoll – The Grace Awakening (p.264):
“How and why we give is of far greater significance to God than what we give. Attitude and motive are always more important than amount. Furthermore, once a person cultivates a taste for grace in giving, the amount becomes virtually immaterial. When those age-old grace killers, Guilt and Manipulation, are not used as leverage, the heart responds in generosity.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Drive-in Church?

Now, is this creatively meeting people where they are, or just catering to the lazy?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Alice Cooper

Here's an article that really gets me thinking. Ever since I heard that Alice Cooper became a Christian, I've occasionally wondered how that's working out. And when I heard he's still doing the same stage show he always did, I wondered how he reconciled that with his faith.

In this article on, Alice explains his position and I must admit, he makes some very good points. Here's an excerpt:

As a Christian, I don't declare myself as a 'Christian rock star.' I'm a rock performer who's a Christian. Alice Cooper is the guy who wants to entertain the audience - it happens that he's a Christian. Alice (the character I play on stage) began life as a villain and he remains one. There's a villain and a hero in every Shakespeare play," he said.

Alice is no more dangerous than a villain in a cartoon or a Disney film. We have fun with him. He snarls and wears make up. He's punished for his crime and he comes back on the stage in white top and tails. We put on a good show. I've always put limits on Alice because I believe there's a certain amount of Alice that's a gentleman. He'd slit your throat, but he'd never swear at you. And there's always a punchline; he may kill you, but he'll slip on a banana peel. I get right-wing Christians down on me and I always ask them the question: 'If I was doing Macbeth, would it be OK?' And they always say that's Shakespeare so of course. I say that's about four times more violent than anything I do on stage.

I remember people giving Christian artist Phillip Bailey a hard time in 1984 for His duet with Phil Collins Easy Lover. People said he was a secular sell-out and not a real Christian. His response was that he was a Christian who worked in show business just as you might be a Christian who works in a car dealership, law office, or whatever.

Works for me, what do you think? Where should Christians draw the line?

*****BONUS VIDEO*****