Tithing--the Christian standard for giving?

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by AThornquist, Feb 29, 2012.

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  1. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    What resources do you believe give the best arguments for and against tithing (that is, 10% as the baseline for giving) as the Christian standard for giving?

  2. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

  3. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    I know of the best Biblical arguments that I have heard for both but I can't think of any specific books on the topic.
  4. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

  5. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Saying that 10% is a good place to start giving is much different than saying that 10% is a mandatory place where you must start.
  6. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    The arguments against do not attack the proportion itself but the moral obligation. I don't know of anyone who says you can give 9% or 11% but it would be sin to give 10%.

    Those who argue for the tithe on moral grounds use passages like Mal 3:8.

    There are others who argue in favor of the tithe as a 'target' or 'baseline' for practical reasons based on the general equity of the OT Tithing laws in general and NT passages like 1 Cor 9:13,14.
  7. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    That is a very useful article. One point which is not worded strongly enough is this:

    It is not simply proper. It is a moral obligation which is argued from the Old Testament law and the law of nature. Those who enjoy the benefits of the minister's labours have a responsibility to ensure that the minister and his family are without care and solicitation. As the minister has continual week by week needs it is the duty of the members of the church to give systematically to that end.
  8. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Abraham and Jacob, our covenant forefathers, pre-Old Covenant, gave tithes without a commandment.

    Therefore, tithing isn't mandatory in the New Testament, unless a complex arrangement was instituted between the ecclesiastical and civil spheres whereby the Church took 10% for ministers, evangelism, health, education and welfare, and the State took 10% for her needs.

    The poor in ancient Israel got the temporal benefits of HEW, as well as the Levitical ministry, from the tithe. How many churches that insist on a tithe look after their communicant and non-communicant members with health services, social welfare and education? How many who are paying tithes in churches that insist on it, are also paying taxes for health, welfare and education?

    If communicant members feel willing and able to give 10% as their usual giving that is fine. But if not, they shouldn't be brow-beaten into it.
  9. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Who exactly are you accusing of 'brow-beating'?
  10. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    Doesn't Paul say in II Corinthians 9 to give as one decides in his heart to give?

    BTW, for the record, I believe that 10 percent is a good baseline anyway. And if you are moved to give more, so be it.
  11. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    I like this thread. It lets me know that if I want to go out and buy a huge new tv set next month... and as a result of that purchase I can only flip a few bucks in the plate, that's ok. (Especially because we're a wealthy church and my offering really only is a small percentage of the church's budget and the pastor is in no danger of not having his needs met.) In fact, maybe I should just give when I feel like it, that way it is "from the heart."

    Thanks guys for freeing me up to keep more of my money to myself!

    All that was in sarcastic jest.
  12. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Agreed. And this is the point that those who so vehemently oppose the tithe leave unaddressed.
  13. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Your language is questionable. At least for me, I do not oppose the tithe. I believe it is not commanded for Christians to give 10%, but that command is abrogated in Christ. To oppose the tithe would be one who says, "You can't give 10%, but you can give 9 or 11%." So I don't oppose the tithe, I am convinced that 10% isn't God's command for us.

    Does that mean that if I don't give a tithe, that I am being unsystematic? I can't give 5% systematically or 15% to support the minister? Now is 10% a good number based on application of Scripture? Sure. But we aren't commanded to give that. We aren't bound by conscience to give 10%. Rather, we are commanded to give voluntarily, with cheerful hearts and according to our conscience. In all actuality, we should be giving everything for the sake of the Gospel for His glory. But that doesn't mean we must give 10% exactly. If anything we should be compelled to give more than that.

    So I guess I fail to see how the one who doesn't hold that we are bound to give a tithe to support the minister, is automatically unsystematic in his giving.
  14. KaphLamedh

    KaphLamedh Puritan Board Freshman

  15. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    No-one in particular. But it should be explained to communicant and non-communicant members that tithing is not mandatory but voluntary, for some of the reasons given above, and in David Gordon's article.

    It's a useful guide to ordinary weekly giving.
  16. Bethel

    Bethel Puritan Board Freshman

    I could be way off base here, but I see the tithe continued in the NT from this verse:

    Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

    2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us how to give, not what to give.
  17. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    One has to remember though that the Pharisees were still under the Mosaic law. Also, as stated in the article by Gordon, the tithe mentioned is not monetary but has to do with food tithed for the priests.
  18. Bethel

    Bethel Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, but the tithe was instituted before the Mosaic law with Melchizedek & Abraham in Genesis 14:18-20. We give money so that our Pastor can buy his own food.
  19. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I am not sure whose language is questionable. The point I am trying to make is that those who oppose the moral obligation of the tithe are usually very thorough in the their arguments against it but leave the reader with very little help in meeting his NT moral obligation of systematic giving. The congregation, especially those young in the faith, are often left with the impression that there is no moral obligation to give systematically at all. They take 'give cheerfully' to mean 'give whatever the Lord lays on your heart' which usually results in impulse driven contributions.
  20. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    I would recommend reading the article Pastor Barnes provided earlier in the thread by T. David Gordon. He explains that section as well.
  21. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor


    That is also addressed by Gordon in the article I linked above. I encourage you to read it. What you find with Abraham is descriptive of what he did, not prescriptive for all.
  22. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Are there actual Reformed churches that teach that tithing is mandatory or is this a straw man?
  23. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    This section was weak in that we need to give to our Mechisedek, and it is useful for us to have some biblical guidance as to a regular proportion, yet Gordon facetiously lumps the tithing with things like pouring oil on to a standing stone, etc.

    I don't know, but the theonomists and others are very insistent on it in their literature. Maybe in practice they are more nuanced, accomodating and biblically-balanced.
  24. Hilasmos

    Hilasmos Puritan Board Freshman

    So, our guidance for proportion is 10% but as to regularity, just once?
  25. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    We owe all to God. It is his to begin with. When I hear people quibbling about whether 9 percent is enough, or whether the tithe is taken off the gross or off the net, it almost always comes with a grudging heart. The principle here is similar to the sabbath: God gives us all we need in six days of labor (or a maximum of 90 percent of our wealth).

    It often appears that God's people knew what was required of them, before it was given specifically. From the outset, His people understood that a sacrifice was required, yet was not codified until the time of Moses. The tithe is similar.

    This is a separate issue. We give our tithe to God, not to the pastor. That the church funds the pastor through the money given by tithing shows good stewardship of the money used to advance the kingdom.
  26. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I think what Richard is saying is that the general equity of the tithe considered as a whole is 'useful for us to have some biblical guidance as to regular proportion'. The wisdom of the tithe cannot be dismissed by trying to lump it in 'with things like pouring oil on a standing stone, etc.'
  27. Bethel

    Bethel Puritan Board Freshman

    I read it. I just think that Matthew 23:23 is more than just a footnote to the argument. In addition, I think that the NT teaching of Hebrews strengthens the point that tithing was instituted before the Mosaic law. Overall, I disagreed with many of his arguments. The point that Abraham did not tithe income, but spoils of war is not biblical. In Genesis 14:3 Abram(ham) refuses the spoils from King Sodom. Also, the argument that if we accept tithing as lawful, we would also have to accept polygamy as lawful is really just a red herring because it is irrelevant to the discussion, and in any case, marriage was instituted by God in Genesis 2; therefore, He would not establish a new law that contradicted His original design (our inherent sin nature did that).

    I see the Scriptures foreshadowing the tithe, the bread, and the wine in Genesis 14 which become a NT reality.
  28. Tbordow

    Tbordow Puritan Board Freshman

  29. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    No. Abraham and Jacob, as our covenantal fathers, teach us by their emblematic behaviour that we are to give to our God and our Melchisedek, and that voluntary tithing is appropriate. We also learn about giving from what comes after them in Scripture. We do not learn that voluntary tithing has been abolished or is wrong or that we can learn nothing from the example of Abraham and Jacob in this respect.

    Mandatory tithing was introduced with the Levitical Economy - was enforced relatively lightly - and ended with the end of the Levitical Economy.


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