You are aware, I'm sure, that I'm into dealing with the need of civility among Christians when disagreeing over biblical issues. Today I'm posting an article that was written on December 13th, 2009 by a Dr. Frank Chase who was resigning from a position of leadership in his church because of his coming to a position about grace giving, rather than the tithe, being the New Covenant standard of giving for all Christians. This, because the tithe WAS the officially accepted standard for leaders by his church. Notice the SPIRIT of civility he demonstrates as he does so. His theology isn't bad either by the way, though at a minor point or two I might disagree.
I've SLIGHTLY adapted it because of length.
Grace, Mercy and Peace be unto you on this day of our Lord. Several weeks and months ago, you were informed of my theological shift from tithing to grace giving. After 30 years of tithing and pondering this matter in my heart and studying both camps who argue for and against tithing, I told you of my personal decision. Since that time, I have been buried in study about this topic and have concluded that the tithe teaching lacks scholarship and cannot be biblically proven in the New Covenant beyond a shadow of doubt. The tithe teachers in the body of Christ who force or mandate tithing would not withstand a cross-examination on a witness stand by a counsel of scholars, Elders and theologians who have studied to show themselves approved and rightly divided the Word of Truth.
Because of my position on this matter, I realize that it has created some conflict and probably more so to the bottom line of the church. Certainly, I am aware of that. But because of my conviction, study and the Holy Spirit, I can never return to tithing under the dispensation of Grace we now live in. Again, my thoughts and heart have changed because of revealed truth. The journey to find truth on this matter started 30 years ago. I must admit that I am overjoyed the Holy Spirit can and does teach you when you seek the truth from your heart.
Because tithing is no longer my position, it is unethical for me to continue in ministry and leadership. Based on your teaching and position that leaders in your church must tithe, it is unethical for you to keep me in leadership. As I have told you in the past, if I become a hindrance to you or your church and the doctrines you set forth, I would withdraw myself from all functions and duties of leadership. As a result, I requested to be put on Sabbatical until we came to a conclusion of this matter. Over the ongoing weeks and months, I've come to the realization that an impenetrable impasse is blocking this matter from being solved.Now after six months, I now realize through prayer and great trepidation that my time at XXX Church has come to an end because of forced tithing methods.
When I decided to change my theology on tithing, I did it with knowledge that I would be at odds with much of the Christian community who are simply ignorant of the biblical and secular history, the land, the language, and the literature of the Jewish Levites and Priests for whom tithing was established in the Old Testament financial system because they had no land inheritance in Canaan.
When I disagreed with you, I did it in the spirit of the Berean Jews who, with great respect for Paul, did not accept Paul's message right away but choose to search the scriptures to see if what he said was true. Since I've been on sabbatical, I've searched the scriptures, read books, examined history on this tithing issue and have found that tithe teaching as propagandized in the Body of Christ today is categorically unscriptural and is tantamount to spiritual and financial extortion akin to mafia tactics. Since I do not agree with tithing, I cannot in good conscience continue to exist at XXX Church knowing that a major difference exists between you and I on this issue. After 30 thirty years of being deceived, here are my thoughts to the body of Christ.
My purpose for changing my mind goes to the core of a metateneo (The greek word for Repent) experience. In the spirit of the Jewish Rabbi/Student relationship, my shift also represents what most Jewish Rabbis taught their students and that is the practice of learning how to challenge, debate and argue well with their Rabbi on Torah issues. A student who never questions what their Rabbi says would not be considered an excellent student. In the spirit of my Jewish Savior Yeshua, I've entered this debate because this is how Jews studied and how teaching was done. By me offering my points and your offering your counter points over the bully pulpit, we will both learn more truth on this subject.
As it stands today, you and I have come down on opposite sides of this argument. In my mind that is OK among theologians. As you continue to read, know that my thoughts on this issue are only directed at the doctrine of tithing and the lack of study by those who try to teach something they have never given serious study.
In all, this situation is not so strange. It reminds me of the incident in Acts 15: 36-41 when Barnabas and Paul came into sharp dispute over the reliability of John who is also called Mark. Because of the appearance of our sharp disagreement about grace giving in the New Covenant vs. mandatory tithing under the Law of Moses in the Old Covenant, it is proper etiquette that we part company like Paul and Banarbas for now in the interest of peace and as Hebrews 12:14-15 says: 14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.
I know people will say, tithing was before the law, but the people also need to know that Abraham was not commanded to give it, and what he tithed came from the spoils of war. Plus he was already made rich based on a promise God made to him not because God commanded him to tithe. There is no biblical record that Abraham tithed any of his personal wealth and the nail in the coffin is that the Bible records that he only tithed once and no other text records he ever tithed again. Using Abraham as proof text is somewhat weak to build a foundation of tithing for the New Covenant.
I know people will say that tithing is an expression of devotion by sincere people but the fact remains, it is still a ceremonial law and an ordinance that was nailed to the Cross. Therefore tithing is low-realm, obsolete and defunct and the pontificators of tithing ultimately introduce weakness and confusion in the minds of believers.
Let me make myself perfectly clear. If a person of their free will decides to give a percentage of their income then of course that is their decision based on Grace and not out of fear of a curse ripped from a text and given new meaning. But as soon as giving is called a tithe that's mandated, forced, or becomes a requirement based on Malachi chapter three or Matthew chapter 23 or some other dubious implied command from the Bible, it represents poor hermeneutics and sloppy exegesis. None of the epistles or letters written by the Apostles instructed or exhorted New Covenant believers to tithe, not as a law, a principle or even as a voluntary practice. Saying we've been blessed by tithing does not make it true Biblically. We are blessed because of the New Covenant Principles of giving, not paying tithes.
In the Old Testament tithing is compulsory and does not translate to grace giving under the New Covenant. The tithe teachers throughout history have taught tithing on a weak foundation of proof text or proof texting methodology. By definition and the verses, I've heard used to extract tithes from people using slick fund raising techniques over my 30 years do not understand that, "a proof text is a verse or short passage from the Bible used by someone as part of his/her proof for a doctrinal belief he wishes to substantiate to others. However, since verses and passages may rely extensively on the context in which they appear for correct interpretation, pulling these verses out their context and having them stand alone in "proof" can at times be very misleading.
In addition, a set of such proof texts can completely ignore other passages which, if added to the mix, might well lead to an entire different conclusion. Someone who relies strongly only on a list of proof texts in order to make a doctrinal argument may have a very weak case for his argument. Noting that a religious teacher relies heavily on proof texting is viewed in theological circles as very negative in evaluation." For example, after my examination Malachi 3:10 and reading the whole book in its context, the infamous verse used by many to support their tithing position fail to realize this book is not talking to or suggesting any Gentile or New Covenant believer to tithe but it speaks only to certain Israelites in the promised land.
Even if tithing was actually commanded in the New Covenant (Which it is not), how can anyone teach 10 percent and not teach the other 20 percent outlined under the law. I bet no leader in Today's church would demand 30 percent of people's income and then ask for a free will offering to boot. In fact, if we follow this logic, to obey any part of the law and not do all of it, we are guilty and accountable for all it. For tithe teachers to prove a doctrinal point, proof text methodology is essential because it allows them to ignore the context of the whole book or chapter.
According to the Jewish Mishnah and the Tulmad writers, tithes were always defined as everything eatable (food), and everything that was stored up or that grew out of the earth. In the Old Testament money was not a titheable commodity only crops, produce and cattle. For 1600 years after the tithe was established it remained a food item up to Mat 23:23 of Jesus' time. And upon careful examination, the Pharisees extended the tithe of the Mosaic Law in the Tulmad to include spices of anise, cumin, and mint, which was never a part of the original Law of Moses or the first five books of the Bible.
You did agree that since the New Covenant standards are higher than the Old Covenant and if you ever accepted grace giving, the minimum standard would be ten percent at the start. In the final analysis, I would have to reject that as incorrect because after Calvary there is no biblical text to support any exact percentage as at starting point in the New Testament. The principle of interpreting New Covenant Giving starting at ten percent sounds good, but it is pure assumption. The New Covenant is filled with "free-will giving principles only. Because of that, giving could range from 0 to 100 percent based on what a person has, not what a person does not have; not under compulsion or reluctantly but by ability and by the Holy Spirit's prompting.
After thirty years of tithing, my heart aches at the carnage of mixed messages the tithe teaching Community has left behind and the many shattered lives and new converts who will be damaged by this grace less teaching in the future.
As I continue in search for truth, I submit this resignation with no malice because I know that tithe teachers need forgiveness too for they know not what they do. For we all are in need of the Grace of God when disputes arise.
Dr. Frank Chase
"...and the pontificators of tithing ultimately introduce weakness and confusion in the minds of believers."
He presents a defense of his position, to which I would have no answer, if I were of a mind to do so. Which I am not, as I agree.
The only thing he didn't mention, which has always nagged at me, is that the whole passage in Malachi seems (to me) to be addressed to the priests, not the nation. It wasn't all the "laymen" who flooded the altar with their tears; I think that would have been the priests. And as I understand it, they were to store 10% of the offerings at the temple, in order to feed the poor.
Anyway, If I'm ever around Dr. Chase, I am keeping my mouth CLOSED. I'll too busy listening and too afraid of saying something stupid.
My husband and I decided more than a decade ago that we would no longer tithe....for some of the same reasons Dr. Chase listed.
We were even more affirmed in this after working more than eleven years overseas in a third world country. When you see young believers being told they MUST give 10% but they're barely making enough money to pay for food and utilities....not to mention clothing.....that's wrong. When they're told that if they give, they will be blessed financially...that's wrong.
The tithe is the poor man's curse and the rich man's blessing....can't remember where I heard this quote...but it's so true!
(The poor man is burdened and the rich man can hold onto the other 90% because it's his portion....)
We encourage those we work with to give to the Lord....be it money and/or time.
We encourage the church to see how they can minister to the poor and widowed...that is biblical. The church is to care for those in need....
We don't make much as missionaries, but we believe the Lord has led us to give 15% (of our income) or more each month back to him. I wouldn't put this on anyone else...this is what God has shown us. In our time....who can measure that...
Thanks for posting this....
We have met others who feel this way, but not many people will talk openly about it.
J (imb m)
How enjoyable to read something as forcefully, yet humbly stated.
I have never taught tithing and have still seen amazing financial happenings in a congregation, and in the life of my family.
If, when we become followers of Christ, He becomes Lord of all we have and all we are, how can we give Him 10% of what is already His?
It is my firm conviction that much of what has become unbreakable tradition,is, as the good brother suggests,"... low-realm, obsolete and defunct and the pontificators of..." such, including"... tithing ultimately introduce weakness and confusion in the minds of believers."
Bob, J, and Aussie J,
You have made three very good responses to this. Thanks for doing so.
I count it an honor for you to stop by and join so many that comment here that I deeply respect such as Bob and Aussie J. I hope you do it often and please give us the benefit and the privilage of hearing about and keeping up with whatever is happening where you are.
May His blessings continue to be made known to you and yours.
Dear IMB M J,
Another saying for the 10% tithe is ‘The poor man’s burden and the rich man’s cop-out’.
It’s a joy to hear or your giving and not through ‘rules or laws’.
I was in a church once where it was expected for the deacons to give the 10% to the church and not any of it anywhere else.
In another church, the pastor gave a paper to the church stating: “A pastor must know whether or not the leadership tithes. If they do not, they do not belong in leadership.”
And that pastor through careless driving damaged a church vehicle but never paid the deductible on the insurance.
Just another example of “Will a man rob God?” That Scripture that’s often quoted to push the ‘tithe’ has roots tied to those not in the pew but church leaders such as Eli and his sons.
I think today of those pastors that have large salaries and perks that are ‘hidden’ from the congregation.
Quite a contrast to a former pastor of ours that would only accept half the salary offered.
Good point about Eli.
I remember the days when the Pastor's salary WAS half what everyone else's was.
There probably needs to be an honest balance somewhere between privilaged and poverty for full time Church staff. It might be wise to be sure it is reflective of others who are leaders in the church but are paid from other places of employment as well.
My my, discussing the Church budget and it isn't even the fall. ;)
Seriously, one of these days we might should come to see that we've created something that is foreign to scripture anyway with Church as we know in in America.
Make that "privileged" and I DO NOW HWO TO SPEL. ;0)
"I remember the days when the Pastor's salary WAS half what everyone else's was."
I remember the struggles of making ends meet to feed and clothe and school five children, all teenagers.
No perks, no superannuation insurance, no long service leave, etc.
I also remember that our sovereign God never failed in supplying our NEEDS!
When my health failed and the doctor said I must retire (10 years before I should), we still owed $7000 dollars on our house loan, with no way of paying it.
One day we had a phone call from the bank to say our loan had been paid out. Wow!
And the word verification is "blessequ".
Why does god need money anyway?
He doesn't. He has chosen to use His follower's giving as a tool to spread His message around the world and to feed the hungry, provide care for orphans, and to heal the sick. You see many are helped by what we call ministries that are operated by people/families we assist as they live in other nations/places leading out in those ministries.
In our Capital city in Oklahoma and in several other small towns here we have Children's homes, hospitals, Assisted living homes and Nursing homes all supported by that money.
I have family members living in Chile who are paid a salary for their full-time work of establishing new churches. [people] My sister and brother-in-law lived in another nation for over thirty years doing the same thing.
Then we operate disaster units that go wherever needed, such as Katrina, with food, clothes, and assistance.
Plus the bookstores we fund to print and provide material for the churches that are cooperating with us in all these ministries.
That is all on top of local churches that do in micro in their community what I've just described.
I've not mentioned six Seminaries that we fund and operate to train men and women to do those ministries. Plus the Universities we operate that educate anyone who chooses to attend one sch as Oklahoma Baptist University and Baylor University.
So really God doesn't need us OR our money. He is willing to allow us to be a tool to help people if we're willing to think beyond our own needs. So we really count it a privilage and opportunity to go beyond ourselves, having provided for our own, by giving together as Christians to get a ministry done in the lives of other people.
But this giving we do is in response to His blessings on us, NOT because we have to [law] or fearful not to. [God'll get us if we don't as too many seem to think.]
Thanks for stopping by.
By the way, Mrs. Austin, kuddos for the pictures of those three little guys. ;)
Since your comment is on Wade's blog and since it has no relationship to my post at all I did remove it. [Besides..putting me second..no way you get away with that... ;)]
Hey! Your delectation put a smile on my face. :)
Great post on Wade’s blog today. Huh? (I’m testing if you delete that off topic question.) :)
Delectation? I mean ‘deletion’.
It’s a shame when you have to check what ‘spell check’ does for you.
Complimenting my kids is NEVER off topic. ;)
Good answer! I believe God would say the same about his Son.
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