- TABLE OF CONTENTS
- WAR ROOM -
STUDY - MORAL
ISSUES - KING
JAMES BIBLE - CULTS
I believe that God sent his son to die for my sins because I could not help myself and He loved me. I believe the Bible in this matter because it claims to be and is the very word of God. I strongly believe most of the tenets of conservative Bible Christianity found in many statements of faith. But there is one I strongly disagree with.
So why have I left fundamentalism of the conservative Christian variety? I believe very strongly that the modern Church has made a critical mistake in assuming that all that is currently taught within the realm of fundamentalism is flawless or that since it is the best that we have that we should look no further. The word of God would teach us otherwise.
The Bereans were commended as they searched the scriptures whether those things were so (Acts 11: 17). They were checking up on the apostle Paul. Is it wrong to check up on our teachers/leaders just because their teachings prevail in recent history?
The main reason to discuss history is that it seems to be one of the arguments highly revered by the opposition to discuss the doctrinal error that I discovered. Concerning doctrine, I consider history to be a weak argument; nevertheless history stands decidedly against the current teaching of tithing. Here is a partial list of revered bible teachers, scholars, and pastors who did not teach tithing: Justin Martyr (150 A.D.), Irenaeus (150-200 A.D.), Tertullin (150-220A.D.), John Wycliff (1384 A.D.), Martin Luther (1500s), John Bunyan (1600s), John Westley (1700s), C.H. Spurgeon (1800s), and for some more contemporaneous examples: Theodore Epp (Back to the Bible), J. Vernon McGee, Charles Ryrie (Ryrie Study Bible), C.I. Scofield (Scofield Reference Bible), Dwight J. Pentecost (Pastor, teacher, and author of "Things to Come").
graphic shows that the prosperity doctrine has
been around for a long time. The teaching is that if
you give to God, especially by tithing, God will
bless you. He is obligated to. If you do not
tithe, you will starve. The whole ponzi
scheme is totally Mother Goose
doctrine to raise funds.
In addition to these individual men, history gives witness to the fact that prior to the early 1870s there are no confessions of faith in any Baptist (Baptists have not always taught tithing) or other conservative stronghold of sound doctrine such as the Waldensians or Heugonaughts that contained reference to tithing. For any interested I have a copy of The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) edited and approved by C.H. Spurgeon in the 1800s. This substantial document speaks of voluntary giving and does not mention the tithe. If flawed men and historical precedent were the only source for our doctrine, then we would be on very unstable ground, for many errors are perpetuated in this way. But we have a more sure direction contained in the word of God.
This exposition of God's word is not an exhaustive study of the subject of tithing but encompassing and detailed enough to be an accurate representation consistent with such a study. When we study the Bible it is imperative we understand that everything contained is there because God wanted it to be; down to the last jot and tittle (Matt.5: 18). This means that when addressing a subject that we must look at the whole counsel of God's word. We are wrong if we teach in a given way because of a singular or limited number of references that are not supported by the rest of scripture. The Bible has references to tithing so does that mean that it is commanded for today? Or if not commanded, is it the implied standard to which we are to aspire?
To fairly answer these questions we need to first look at what the current teachings are and then consider them in light of God's word. For 25 years I was taught that the tithe is God's standard for giving. Verses such as "the tithe… is the Lord's" (from the law of Moses Lev. 27:30) and "ye have robbed God … In tithes and offerings." (From Israel under the law Mal 3:8), were routinely used by Pastors sand other teachers and preachers in the church. Recently there has been a new twist on this teaching introduced to the church after I had a discussion with both pastors. We need to look at the new explanation and how this addendum to the old teaching fits with Bible teaching on this subject as well, after we first look to the foundational teachings of the recent past.
The tithe was never taught to me as anything other than God's standard for giving. The basic line of logic goes as such. Tithing is taught throughout the Bible, predating the law, in the law, and after the law in the New Testament. Verses predating the law include Abraham giving tithes "of all" to Melchisidec (Gen. 14:20). However, clarification is given in the book of Hebrews that it was a tithe of all "the spoils" of the battle (Heb. 7: 4). Abraham is never commanded to give the tithe nor is it recorded that he ever did again. The other pre-law reference to tithing is when Jacob tells 'God if you do thus and such… then you will be my God and surely I will give you the tenth of all' (Gen. 20: 20-22). Unfortunately, Jacob's promise of tithe is conditional. Is that our example? He was never commanded to tithe nor is it recorded that he kept his promise. The way of explanation has been that tithing was just known or implied and continued on in the Law of Moses as a command in Lev. 27: 30 and is used as proof for tithing. However, as New Testament believers if we place ourselves under the law it is our duty to do the whole law and we are cursed because we cannot (Gal. 3: 10).
Under the law there are a very limited number of scriptures that deal with tithing found in Leviticus and Numbers. In them you will not find tithing of anything other than the produce of the land of Israel. Lev. 27: 30-32 states: "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD. And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD." Lev. 27: 30-33 is a summary of tithing and what it constitutes for the congregation of Israel; you will not find anything inconsistent in these verses compared to all others on tithing. The context for tithing begins in Lev. 14: 34 where it is stated, 'when you come into the land…' This phrase is used four times between Lev. 14: 34 and Lev. 27: 30 where tithing of the produce of the land is then commanded.
The tithe was specially tied to Israel the promised land. Why tithe only from produce (seed, fruit, or animals) of the land of Israel? The answer is God personally promised this land, and the bounty from it was a result of his blessing. It also was for a special purpose, which was the maintenance of the priesthood because they had no inheritance in the land (Num. 18:21, 23). The Levites (priests or servants of the temple of the tribe of Levi) were not given land as the other tribes of Israel were. People from these other tribes with occupations such as carpenters, workers of metal, garment producers, potters, traders or other non-landholder trades paid no tithe on that income. It was prohibited from being money and a special provision allowing conversion to money for traveling far to tithe in Levitical cities, states a penalty of a fifth part or 20% to be paid if not converted back to produce of the land (Lev. 27:31, Deu.14: 22-29) when it was given to the Levites.
We have no Aronic (high) or Levitical (servant) priesthood. We are a royal priesthood (1Pet.2: 9) and have a high priest that is not on earth (Heb.8: 1). On that note some would say, what about our pastors as they have need of food? Yes, and this is addressed in the New Testament where we are instructed to give to meet their needs voluntarily, not with a tithe (tenth) of our income. Even landholders in Israel were not required to do this. Income from sources other than the land was not tithed and every seventh year no tithe was given, as it was the year of jubilee (Ex.23: 11, Lev. 25:1-7).
Some may wonder what about the widow's mite; she was putting money in the temple treasury. The historical fact is that freewill offerings were given by any in addition to the tithe from the produce of the land in Israel. She was not tithing. Not every one in Israel was a landholder. Jesus and his family were one such example. Joseph was a carpenter not a landholder. Neither was he required to tithe on carpentry income. Please show where the law required this, as the record is complete and accessible in our Old Testament. The commanded tithe is intricately tied to the priesthood (ceremonial law) and the fruit of the land of Israel only.
The last mention for the common teaching of tithing occurs as Jesus addresses the scribes and Pharisees. (Mat. 23:23) This is touted as proof that Jesus taught tithing in the New Testament. This could not be further from the truth. In context, Jesus was speaking to a Jew that was still under the law; the temple veil had not been rent because the atoning blood was not yet spilt. And another significant event had not yet occurred. The Comforter (the Holy Spirit) had not yet been sent. The significance of this to our discussion lies in the New Testament teaching on giving and will be discussed later.
The New Testament teaches voluntary giving only and there are no rebukes for not giving enough. Please read Acts 11: 29, 1Corinthians 16: 1-2, and 2 Corinthians 9:7 for some examples on giving. In looking at giving verses I include a giving text from the book of Acts. Some take this as an opportunity to prove the scholarship against tithing wrong, as Acts is a book that includes events that are transitional in nature and not for today such as speaking in tongues. However, the verses on giving in Acts are consistent with every other mention of New Testament giving. In other words, which part of giving in Acts does not go along with the rest of the New Testament verses? Acts demonstrates a consistency with regards to giving from the beginnings of the church. Tithing is never taught. Not in one of the epistles. Not by any of the New Testament writers. Not even the apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament. Strange, seeing that he wrote the rulebooks for the gentile church and extensively on giving. He could have taught the un-churched gentiles about supposed proper tithing as we do today. He did not. Why do we? Are we better than Paul who was an apostle?
As I discussed this with the pastors of the church, they defended tithing from the law. Not stealing and not murdering are part of the law of Israel so we cannot discount something just because it was part of the law. "The law is how we know what pleases God." But, by their logic you also need to teach that men should not cut the corners of their beard as was required in the law (Lev. 19:27) and many other such ordinances which are 'nailed to the cross.' (Col.2: 14, Gal.3: 10) The argument fails to distinguish between the moral aspects of the law and the ceremonial (Of course moral law has not expired). Remember how the tithe is the inheritance of the priests? There is an inextricable tie between required tithing from the promised land of Israel and the ceremonial law of Israel (Num.18: 21 Concerning Levitical Priesthood). Not tithing and the church.
In discussing these differences with church leadership I encountered some objections worth noting. To be fair, I want it understood that when I say leadership I include pastors, deacons (past or present), and teachers. I did not speak to all individuals in these categories or even at the same time. I do not accuse any of malice, only of being mislead by current mass acceptance of this false doctrine.
This brings us to the new doctrine on tithing in the church. I was not invited to learn of this from the Pastors. I was not given a copy of the handout. I was told of it second hand from a teacher in the church by way of phone call. From what I can gather, the main idea is to say that we need to teach tithing, ignoring what the law says about it and only look to Abraham as an example as he gave by faith without command. First off we ignore the whole counsel of God's word at our peril. It is a bad idea to not teach every aspect of a given subject in light of the whole Bible and in context.
The Bible teaches that Abraham gave a tithe of the spoils of the battle. It does not say he gave a tenth of his total income or that he did it by faith. Any such supposition is a fable. Why imagine stories for how we should live when we have God's word. If we say that what the law says is totally unrelated to Abraham we discount God's word, that all that have gone before "ate of the same spiritual meat and drank of the same spiritual drink" (1Cor. 10:1-4) and that 'the law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by faith' (Gal.3: 24). Notice our faith in this verse resides in a person, not a fable. A faith that taught Abraham to tithe would be the same to the Israelites under the law, but it was not. There is a significant difference as a tithe was not required for the spoils of the battle from Israel; a much lower percentage was required. Please read Num. 31: 25-30. The Lord commanded the spoils divided into two parts, one half to the warriors the other half to the congregation (the rest of Israel). The warriors were to give 1 in 500 of the spoils. It is easily seen this is not even 1% (which would be 5 in 500) let alone a tithe or 10%. Likewise the congregation of Israel was to give 1 in 50 of the spoils. This equals 2 in 100 or 2%.
So totaled between the two the offerings from the spoils of war was less than 2.5% (Certainly not a tithe or 10%). How can this be? The answer is the tithe is not a moral law or a part of faith. It was part of the ceremonial law as its purpose was for the sustenance of the priests. Remember tithing was from increase of the land of Israel nothing else, not increase from trades by non-landowners and, not even spoils from battle even though they had the example of Abraham. What was God teaching Israel (as the law was the schoolmaster to bring them to faith in Christ even without tithing the spoils of battle which were part of their increase), and what can we learn today from this? Can we claim that Moses did not have faith since he did not tithe the spoils like Abraham? Since the law was given by God himself this is not possible. There is a huge problem with saying that Abraham gave tithes of the spoils of battle "by faith" and this is a teaching just for today since the law required less. Please show the scriptures.
The scripture says "without faith it is impossible to please God."(Heb. 11:6) So if we teach that "by faith" Abraham gave tithes of the spoils we imply that this is the requirement. Where did Paul the apostle to the gentiles teach this? This is false doctrine and a new law by implication of the faith requirement to please God. Again Abraham is never recorded to have tithed anything else and Hebrews 11 does not list tithing the spoils as one of his faith triumphs but does list many. To teach anything else is fable.
Another current fable goes like this. If we do not teach tithing then man's old nature tends toward selfishness and they will only give a very small amount to ease their conscience and not give enough. (What about the Holy Spirit?) Ouch. Did they really just say that it is ok to perpetuate a false doctrine in order that a benefit may be obtained? A little of the ends justifies the means philosophy of the world. Some may call this being wise as serpents, harmless as doves. I take that verse to mean being circumspect in our walk and exemplary in our deportment to the world, not deceptive concerning the inferences and requirements of God's word, as God is not divided in his commands. Is not God the only judge whose opinion matters concerning the hearts (Even in giving.) of his servants? (Rom. 14:4,10-11)
Another opinion from our religious leaders concerning servants is that we live in such a prosperous time and country that no one is starving. Although, Pastor has questioned how we would respond to the truly poor as we are primarily middle class. I perceive we would burden them by teaching them they should tithe. We claim ten percent is nothing. Even if that is the case, should we lie with false doctrine because of universal affluence as some have claimed?
Another claim is the tithe (taught as 10% of total income) is really not enough and we should really give much more. Passages like the widow's mite and the rich young ruler that Jesus told to "sell all" are used. If these are the only evidence for the how of giving then none of us should hold any possessions, especially our examples that are our religious leaders. But as we consider Annanias and Saphira, they held possession of property and it was plainly stated to them "whilst it was in thy possession was it not thy own." (Acts 5:4) This would preclude any teaching that if you are a Christian then you should not own property. The purpose of using such scripture seems to imply that God may require much more than 10 percent, so it is ok to teach tithing. To this I say, God may require more from us but this is entirely up to him.
Are our eccleastical leaders better than God in setting a minimum for giving when he did not? The entire matter is between God and his steward as directed by the Holy Spirit. The largest problem in this whole scenario has to do with the way in which this demonstrates our lack of confidence in the Holy Spirit as well as knowledge of the scriptures. How can we know how much to give and where? The scripture is very specific about the where including the needs of the poor, widows, fatherless, as well as supporting pastors needs. How much to give is the work of the Holy Spirit (in an individual). What is wrong with the leadership of Christ who gave us Paul the Apostle for doctrine (Gal. 1:1) and the Holy Spirit to 'teach us all things' (John 14: 26) including how much to give?
Those that say its not a fair doctrine if I give 10 percent and someone else receiving more income only gives 2 percent need to look at the discussion between Peter and the Lord upon learning the manner of death he (Peter) should die '…(Peter asks regarding John) what will this man do?' …The Lords response... 'What is that to thee, follow thou me.'(John 21: 18-22)
For those that follow the Lord and have read this looking up all the verses, even searching for the references not listed, you know its true and wonder how this can be. This is the most disturbing thing I can think of since having been saved considering all verses pertaining to false doctrines and the impact this has on our perception of God, the way we live, and our effectiveness. (Not to mention God's opinion of us.)
Is it necessary to address something very disturbing so directly? Yes. Paul wrote an entire letter to the Galatians explaining how mixing law and grace was wrong. The Galatians were saying if you are a Christian then you should do thus and such from the law (be circumcised). Paul even withstood Peter to the face and it is called another gospel in the introducing lines of this book. (Gal. 1:6, 2:11) There are those in our leadership that have stated that oh no, Galatians is about Jews teaching that in order to be saved you need to be circumcised. However, this supposition is not supported by the text. In the letter Paul talks of "14 years after I went up to Jerusalem" (Gal. 2:1). He then describes in the same chapter how he then withstood Peter to the face (Gal. 2:11). It is incredible to think that so long after the church was established that even Peter did not understand the basics of salvation. He did.
It was the way the law was added after salvation that is in dispute. (If you're a Christian you should…because of the law.) This is confirmed in Gal. 2:14 (Concerning Peter) and chapter 3 as the Galatian Christians are asked, "…having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect in the flesh?"(Gal. 3:3). This word 'perfect' means mature or complete and is used the same way in Hebrews 6:1 "… let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God." If you still believe it was about salvation please read those verses again, then turn to Galatians 4:19-21. Paul says, "My little children…ye that desire to be under the law." This book is undeniably to immature Christians (little children, having begun in the Spirit) that understood they were saved and wanted to live and compel to live as under the law.
The book of Galatians is consistent in message from beginning to end. Where do those that teach tithing propose the verses in Galatians that speak of this false salvation are? For they claim this book is a rebuke for teaching Christ plus the law or circumcision for salvation. Therefore teaching a rebuke of a false salvation. Peter was not accused of this nor was the Galatian Church. Such a teaching is what you have in many 'Christian' cults as trusting in Christ plus anything we can do equals no salvation. I believe this is the dividing line for apostasy (versus heresy which is false doctrine) but this is not what is described here in Galatians as Peter certainly was saved and knew how after at least 14 years. What he did not understand was what it meant. Neither do they that claim such things about this book (Galatians) and teach tithing. And Paul gave subjection to them "not for an hour." (Gal.2: 5)
There is another rebuke from Paul concerning being in subjection to the law relating to tithing specifically in Titus that is also rejected by those that strive about the law and teach tithing. Consider chapter 3:9-10… "But avoid … contentions and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;" In this same book contenders of the law are also referred to in Titus 1:10-14. To those who argue the verses do not refer to tithing I ask..... Is it the use of the word circumcision that throws you off? The word refers to those who would bring you under the yolk of the law. This is understood from the text. If you still doubt, please consider what the verses say: "For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth."
If we use the idea that circumcision refers only literally (as they seem to do in Galatians) then we must conclude that they were teaching physical circumcision for filthy lucre or money. Find where they did that in history or even better try to explain how that would work. Fact is the use here is consistent with Galatians in that they constrain you to be under the law. Teaching that tithing is for today qualifies for this rebuke. Find another Jewish fable that has been taught as being a religious law (by the circumcision or from Jewish Law) that generates income for its purveyor. (The Jewish Law is accessible please show the verses.) Someone may speak as if the pivotal words in the verses are "for filthy lucre's sake." Meaning that since the church doesn't do it for the money the verse does not apply. The correct application is that any gain by a false doctrine would be defiled or filthy. So yes any gain from teaching tithing is filthy lucre. There are no biblical interpretational precedents that allow minimization of a portion of scripture because we do it with the right attitude. The rebuke of these verses says, "Whose mouths must be stopped." Meaning yes, it is necessary to point all this out and stop this teaching of tithing.
While attempting to raise the notion separately amongst a few highly respected leaders in the church, I encountered the question, just what are you trying to do? The Bible calls it being "Berean" (Acts 11:17) or "earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) as teaching tithing in this age of grace is clearly another gospel. It has been said 'its not that big a deal, pastor only occasionally teaches it.' 'He is really not that strong on it.' To this the question calls out. Is it ok to teach what the Bible calls another gospel, heresy, or a teaching that is commanded to be stopped once in a while or part of the time? Of a strong consideration, if you doubt what the church believes just look at your church constitution and you will find tithes listed as one of the methods of support. Only those items deemed essential doctrine are ever put in them.
One leader agreed, that if we did not teach the doctrine of tithing we could not do things the same as we now do. To which it can be said: if a false teaching is fundamental to the way we do things, then we need to change the way we do things, removing the false teaching. If we closely follow the Bible for our doctrine, the details of how we do things (how we achieve success as measured by God) will attend to themselves.
Some may say 'who is this sinner to question our doctrine taught for generations?' For I corporately address the leadership including, businessmen, college educated professionals, some of the finest technical minds I have encountered, and even college educated clergy with a challenge. I am none of these things and less and yet I will boldly pronounce that if the scriptures do not teach a matter, neither should you. If there is disagreement with my contention let them set to paper the scriptures and confront this accusation publicly. Let there be no division among you. I ask the pastors to make sure everyone can access a copy of this letter so that the church response is without division.
If the church responds that the great work locally that has been wrought through the sacrifice of the saints is evidence of the Lord's blessing and to change our doctrine now would not seem right. I ask you to consider two things: First, Galatians 5:9 says a "little leaven leaventh the whole lump" specifically in regard to mixing law and grace, second, the wealth of the Laodicean church in Rev. 3: 14-17. Would not their wealth under this logic preclude their being spewed from the Lord's mouth? (As their wealth would indicate 'the Lord's blessing' under such thinking.) The scriptures speak for themselves. As to the sacrifices offered under this form of law (whether direct law from Moses [ceremonial] that has expired [been fulfilled in Christ] or indirect and new law through Abraham's faith as supposed evidenced for his tithing the spoils) it is correct to say that to 'obey is better than sacrifice.' (1Sam 15:22) Nothing in the New Testament contradicts this truth about God and obedience.
Why do we not obey the doctrine of voluntary giving via aid of the Holy Spirit and New Testament giving scriptures with no percentage mentioned, which is our only biblical doctrine concerning the topic? Adherence to freewill offerings would prevent many from ridiculing the church and turning others from Christ. This false teaching of tithing that the unsaved rebuke Christians with is certainly to be despised and rejected. And claiming the unsaved only dispute tithing because they are greedy is tantamount to saying that those that oppose commanded celibacy do so because they are lustful, adulterous, and fornicators in their heart. Nonsense. Celibacy is not commanded in the Bible. Neither is tithing. Not today, nor was it ever commanded in the Old Testament in the way it is currently taught.
Since, today the Holy Spirit is excluded by the teaching of tithing in this critical area of giving, what claim may we make upon his direction for other matters in that he is grieved with us? (A little leaven…) Under the direction of the Holy Spirit Paul claimed the mixing of law with grace was another gospel, those that strive and contend about the law are hereticks, and teaching commandments of men things that ought not to be for filthy lucre's sake is worthy of a sharp rebuke to those whose mouths must be stopped.
Through the scriptures with Holy Spirit direction the apostle Paul would withstand us to the face for we are to be blamed just as Peter and the Galatians were. He would enjoin us to repent of this man made doctrine and return to the gospel of grace whereunto we are called to give under direction of the Holy Spirit. It is only then that we can have any hope of being as effective as we should. For then we would not preach/teach another gospel.
Earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints,
James A. Watson Jr.
To claim 140 years (tithing) (Vs. over 1800 years non-tithing) as being the sum total of biblical church history is inadequate. I have not quoted sources for history of tithing due to these references being made in multiple locations. The vast number of historical figures/groups and the extensive writings of them should enable an easy refutation of my contention on multiple counts (There exist many historical biblically conservative statements of faith prior to 1870). The discrediting documents do not exist. If you demand me to cite references for those that did not teach tithing I will give you the only required and superior ones, the New Testament and its writers.
In discussing tithing I was encouraged to look to Romans chapter 14 as an answer. This chapter involves the statement "let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" concerning the eating or not of meats and the esteeming of days or not. In other words 'you can believe that teaching tithing is wrong and someone else may not and you are on equal footing.' However, these Rom.14 verses describe issues of a personal nature not concerning doctrine taught elsewhere. In order to apply these verses to tithing you must ignore the entire New Testament teaching on giving and doctrinal error, especially the books of Titus and Galatians. To apply Rom. 14 to tithing is to commit the same error that the liberal denomination of your choice has made through denial of the scriptures in whatever area. If Romans 14 were a proper application to tithing this would make God inconsistent. The Holy Spirit through Paul and the other New Testament writers was not inconsistent in teaching all the concepts in these separate books simultaneously. Selah.