Friday, February 1, 2008

10%

I refer of course to tithing, the practice of which is an integral part of the Abrahamic tradition, being as it was, part of the covenant that Abraham made with God. As such, it is widely believed that Christians should tithe, but is that really the case?

Yes, it’s time for another bible lesson from an atheist. Go figure! The subject came up in a conversation I was having with Donna when she said something else that made me think:

Tithing is great, but I don't think God expects the single mom with 3 kids to feed, to fork over 1/10 of HER paycheck if she can't afford the basic necessities!

It made me think about the difference between the old and the new; the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

The reason these four things exist is because Jesus brought with him, a new covenant that made the old obsolete. Consequently, we have the writings of Abrahamic/Judaic Rabbi which make up the old testament and the writings of the “apostles” and others that make up the new. In the collection of books that are the old testament, Abraham’s covenant is formalised and Deut 14:22 and Lev 27:30 leave no doubt that an Israelite should tithe 10% of all that grows in his field to the Levites (the keepers of the tithe) who in turn must tithe one tenth of what they receive to God. The rest of the tithe goes to feeding the temple, keeping it ship-shape and keeping stores for use in times of hardship. Just as Joseph did for Pharaoh, it was the job of the temple to have a contingency for drought, famine and/or any other pestilence that might befall the land.

Now when Jesus comes, he breaks the old covenant. At the ninth hour, the curtain of the temple is torn in two from top to bottom (Mat 27:51) and never again will the spirit of God descend upon the Ark of the Covenant. The old covenant is broken for all time. No more burnt offerings, no more sacrifices, no more sleeping with your brother’s wife if he should die childless and no more tithing.

Galatians 3:23-25; Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. And there is much more in the new testament that teaches us how and why New Covenant believers are free from the old law, Romans 3:28, Hebrews 7:20-22, Hebrews 8:6-7 to name just a few.

So you see, tithing for a christian, although charitable and acceptable, is not strictly necessary. Yes, there is a lot of mention of it in the new testament, but if you actually read the texts, it’s always Jesus telling the Pharisees how they’re neglecting the law. If you continue to read, you will also see that annoying the Pharisees with points of law was a favourite pastime of Jesus and it ended up getting him into a lot of trouble. There is however, NO direct claim that any “New Covenant” believer needs to tithe. Charity is good, of that there’s no doubt, but charity also needs to be affordable. As Donna said, there’s no point giving it away until the only way to survive is on the charity of others. Somehow it seems to me to defeat the purpose.

So if your priest or pastor should ask you why you don't tithe, look him in the eye and tell him it's because he doesn't make burnt offerings.

Dr. Russel Kelly has written a book on the subject and it was also the subject his thesis:

Should The Church Teach Tithing

And here's his summary of the book. It's worth a read, if you have the time: Russkellyphd

and here's some web recourses:

NoMoreTithing.org or TithingDebate.com.

6 Comments:

Donna said...

Geez, EVERYBODY says stuff better than I!! (I'm too verbose!) When you say there's no point in tithing if you have to live off the charity of others, THAT'S IT!!!!

We also hear "God helps those whom
help themselves". Well, if you can't afford the basic necessities, but are giving some % to the church, that's stupid-

I don't think the "percentage" HAS to be only given to the church of your choice, either. Tithing can be
donating toys @ Christmas, volunteer work, helping an elderly
person keep their sidewalk clear of snow all winter, etc.

Plonka said...

Thanks Donna...:)

And you're right, charity comes in many forms. Helping the old lady is probably doing more "good" than giving it to a big church anyway. They're more likely to invest it in real estate rather than in food and/or shelter for refugees or the homeless.

russkellyphd said...

1 Tim 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
NASU

Don't let some pulpit scam artists put a guilt trip on you. The Bible never teaches Christians to tithe under NT principles.

Plonka said...

Russkellyphd: Thanks for stopping by...:)

"Charity begins at the home"...

I didn't come across your book while I was searching for references. I've added it, thanks...:)

Dikkii said...

Plonka, that was excellent.

And I see that you've been busy over the past few weeks while I've been cleaning up my blog layout.

I've always felt that an acceptable answer to tithing would be if you were giving to another charity, of which there are good ones. I personally like Oxfam and Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Never liked World Vision - they spend an inordinate amount on proselytising for my liking.

Plonka said...

Dikkii: Thanks...:)

Well yes... I thought it was time I got the "profit" bee out of my bonnet. But you know what they say Dikkii, "It's not easy being green"...:)

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