In my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? you will find hundreds of reasons why you should stop tithing and embrace New Covenant Grace Giving that Paul taught in the letters written to the assemblies in the New Testament. If you would like to read more about tithing, click on the links below to read book bubbles from Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway?
It’s amazing when you discover a new biblical truth. That what happened to me several years ago when I went on a biblical journey to study tithing. What I uncovered literally shocked me into truth. I also discovered how easy it is to be biblically ignorant even when you think you are an well informed person. Needless to say, I suspect that many believers are not as astute in biblical theology and understanding. It’s no fault of their own, but when you allow so-called biblical experts tell you what the Bible says, without you doing personal follow-up, you’ll most likely become well informed in biblical error.
In the case of tithing and what the Bible defines as a tithe, many of us have become victims of phantom tithing passages interpreted in mysterious spiritualistic ways to get money for the church. In this post, I really want you to see that many experts, theologians, scholars, and Bible readers have not fallen for the Sunday morning tithe stickup. Where do people get the idea that God requires money as a tithe? I would have to say ignorance, confusion and a lack of scripture study is the culprit. This post will be a list of quotes from many in the christian community debunking the tithe myths that exist today. Based on the research that I have done in my book, kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway, tithing money or paying a tenth of your income is actually not in the Bible. In fact, phantom tithing verses and propaganda come from pervasive biblical illiteracy, and that can be financially dangerous to the believers in church. Proper biblical exegesis, hermeneutics, context and theology have fallen to wayside, and the idea of what a person thinks the scripture means personally has become the standard. That opens the door to private interpretation of the scripture which the Bible warns against. For example, many people think the phrase, “God helps those who helps themselves” is a verse in the Bible when it actually is not in the Bible. Because of phantom verses, many people believe tithing money is in the Bible, when it actually is not. So what are the experts, theologians, scholars saying about tithing? Let’s take a journey. But Before we do that, I would like to share with you, why i resigned from tithing.
What are People Saying About Tithing?
Studying the full scope of tithing as presented in the Bible, one discovers that tithing is first mentioned in Genesis 14: 17-24, where Abraham is described as “giving” a voluntary offering of a tenth to Melchizedek, King/priest of Salem. Of course, we “pay” an obligation, but we “give” a gift because we choose to. There was no law of tithing in the Word of God demanding that Abraham pay Melchizedek tithing on the spoils of war. (Also, see Chapter III.)
Clearly, tithing was codified in the ceremonial law along with burnt offerings, sacrifices, heave offerings, vows, and the practice of circumcision. (Deuteronomy Chapters 11, 12 ,14, and 26, and Leviticus Chapter 12.) “Under the Levitical system God ordained …the tithes….” S.D.A. Bible Dictionary, 1127.
Because Abraham “gave” tithes to Melchizedek before Moses and the ceremonial laws of Moses’ day, some contend that the practice of tithing is perpetual.
In addition, some churches contend that Abraham paid (not “gave” as Scripture reads) a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek because there was an unwritten tithing law that required him to do so. Consider this. This action by Abraham is in no way related to the law of tithing later revealed in the Book of Leviticus. The Levitical law required that tithe be paid only on land and animals. (Lev. 27:30-31.) Spoils of war do not represent an increase from farming. The Mosaic law required that the priests receive 1/500th of the goods from the spoils of war, not 1/10th. The Levites received 1/50th of the spoils of war, not 1/10th. The law concerning spoils of war had nothing to do with tithing. (Numbers 31: 27-29.) Now, if Moses, in Genesis, were recording a universal law of tithing at the time of Abraham, why does he depart from this law some 400 years later? Abraham’s gift was one of free-will, an offering of thanksgiving. Nothing more, nothing less!
It is true, of course, that tithing was a part of the ceremonial codes (Deuteronomy 14:22-29 and 26:12), but the fallacy of assuming that there was a perpetual law of tithing at the time of Abraham, is immediately observed when one studies the practice of circumcision. Circumcision existed before Moses (Genesis 17:10) and was adopted into the ceremonial codes as was tithing (Exodus 12: 44, 48 and Leviticus 12:3); however, as we see in Colossians 2:16,17, Paul states that Christ’s death made void the ceremonial laws (Hebrews 9: 8-11), including the practice of circumcision (Galatians 5:6; 6:15, and 1 Corinthians 7:19). Therefore, even though circumcision and tithing were practiced before Moses and the writing of the ceremonial codes, this practice did not make either of these acts perpetual. (Taken from Beware The Tithe Trap by Dr. Fillmer Hevener)
1st Century Jewish perspective
The 1st Century Jews who were the very first Christians–and who are the Christian example that we have in the bible—had a unique perspective. Perhaps we have lost this perspective in the church of today–having to deal with so many years of tradition from which most of our churches operate.
The people in the Bible understood certain things–I believe much better than we do. They had experience that we do not have–we understand certain things that are stated in the Bible–but we do not live them out in the same way that they did–and one of the reasons this is –is because of the particular perspective the 1st Century Jews operated from.
These people had “grown up” in the traditions of the Jewish faith of that day. They lived out their lives–their tradition in these ways-
They paid a tithe–which consisted of 1/10 of their goods–1/10 of the herd and the crops which they grew. It was the part of most of the people to (those who were not of the tribe of Levi) to render this tithe to the priests–the Levites.
The Levites were the anointed appointed delegated authority within Israel to do ministry. They were the only ones who were lawfully allowed to serve God–to perform the many and various ministries–offerings unto God throughout the year. The Levites had the “office of ministry”. They had authority over the rest of Israel to be the ones who were chosen by the covenant laws delivered to Moses, to be the tribe of Israel which were allowed to be ministers unto the Lord. No one else in Israel could be a minister. No one else had the anointing to do this. The Levities were delegated by the law to be the ministry which received the tithe. They offered the tithe–which is holy unto God–as the sin offering for the people–the rest of Israel–and themselves. Their ministry function was to properly make these offerings unto God–to properly use the tithe–the offering to God for the sin of the people. They also lived on the tithe–they were allowed to eat of the slain animals–and partake of the fruits and grains which were offered through the tithe. (Taken from Vision of the Church)
Leviticus 25:1: And the LORD spake unto Moses in Mt. Sinai saying,
Verse 2: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when ye come into the land which I shall give you, then shall the land keep a Sabbath unto the LORD.
Verse 3: Six years shalt thou sow thy field, and six years shalt thou prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;
Verse 4: But in the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of rest unto the land, a Sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
Verse 5: That which growth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the Land.
Verse 6: And the Sabbath of the land shall be meat (food) for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for the stranger that sojourneth with thee.
Verse 7: And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.
The Israelites observed a seven-year agricultural (and tithing) cycle. Every seventh year the land (and the tithers) got a break. No large-scale reaping was to be done, so no tithes were to be paid. Any Jewish rabbi will tell you no tithes were paid in ancient Israel on the seventh year, and tithes were never collected from the wages of the poor. During the Sabbatical year, people were to take from the land just what they needed for their own personal consumption, and nothing more. How would this set with “conservative” preachers who holler about having a strong work ethic, and making the most (money) out of every waking moment of your life? What if somebody out in the congregation decided that every seventh year he would ditch the factory job, sling on a backpack and go live off the land like the Indians did before the coming of the white man?
Today’s tithers simply don’t get that seventh-year break commanded by Scripture. They’re pressured to slave SEVEN years out of seven to satisfy Organized Religion’s hunger for finances. When one job isn’t enough, people are encouraged to work two. Preachers LITERALLY (and wrongly) apply the Tithing Law, while “spiritualizing away” people’s need for physical rest, to keep the cash rolling in. Parents who must work extra jobs come under criticism because they aren’t always there for the kids and “have poor family values”. Think of it. God actually gave the farmer a whole year off every seventh year from plowing, sowing and reaping, besides their weekly Sabbath Day rest. God even cared about the land, which is nothing but dead, wormy dirt! Funny how preachers don’t worry about other Christians dropping dead from overwork. I kinda suspect God is a lot more merciful than His supposed representatives up in the pulpit. (Taken from the article Rewriting Scripture to Justify Tithing)
Several years ago when I fist started learning about tithing, I joined an Yahoo Tithing Study group. This group of believers were very well versed on tithing. One of the profound questions that escapes some people who subscribe to monetary tithing is that they never ask how God’s tithing system became a money grab for the church. Let me tell you that insofar as scripture is concerned, the Bible was not source. The catholic unilaterally established a (income based) tithe by means of religious church legislation patterned after secular law in the six century. I cover this phenomenon in my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? Here is what the catholic church decided, “The earliest positive legislation on the subject seems to be contained in the letter of the bishops assembled at Tours in 567 and the canons of the Council of Maçon in 585. In course of time, we find the payment of tithes made obligatory by ecclesiastical enactments in all the countries of christendom.” The process of ripping up the God’s biblical tithe laws to change them to fit the needs of the worldwide catholic church began by proclamations to the effect: “The Church looked on this payment as “of divine law, since tithes were instituted not by man but by the Lord Himself” (C. 14, X de decim. III, 30). As regards the civil power, the Christian Roman emperors granted the right to churches of retaining a portion of the produce of certain lands, but the earliest instance of the enforcement of the payment of ecclesiastical tithes by civil law is to be found in the capitularies of Charlemagne, at the end of the eighth century.” (Taken from New Advent). So what we have is that the Catholic juggernaught took it upon themselves to decree and declare that income-based tithing was legal based on their personal doctrinal view of the authority as religious leaders of the world. They felt it was not necessary to prove monetary tithing from the Bible because when they decreed it, that meant it was law.
Now some people believe tithing always existed in America and in the churches but, but as I discovered in my research, tithing money or income based tithing did not appear in American churches until it was invented in 1873 by Alexander L. Hogshead and John W. Pratt according to the Dean of Vanderbilt University’s James Hudnut-Beumler’s book, “In Pursuit of the Almighty Dollar,” (c) 2007 Vanderbilt University. You can see an article written by Russell Kelly explaining the invention of the the in United states in 1873, in an article titled, 1873: TITHING FIRST SUGGESTED IN USA.
Manipulating the Bible is can be done so easy and yet the hearers never question that a scripture is taken out of context. For example, when tithing taught using Proverbs 3:9, it reads, “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase..” Now, in the average congregant ears, what are they hearing after they have been indoctrinated into the income-based tithing system? Well, this is how the verse is contorted in their mind, “Honor the Lord with your money, with the first 10% of your paycheck. Mind you, the actual verse has nothing to do with money. Proverbs 3:9 is about edible items not cold hard cash. You can check out a book bubble I wrote on first fruits titled, What Are First Fruits in the Bible? The internet is the greatest invention known to man and it has exposed all the falsehoods about income-based tithing. What do we know about tithes and first fruits?
“Tithes and first fruits were not given concurrently during each year. For example, first fruits were offered on the 16th day of the first money (Nisan) and the sixth day of the third month (Sivan) of the Jewish calendar year. In contrast, the year for the tithing of livestock [not money] commenced the first day of the sixth money (Elul); while harvest tithing initiated on the 15 day of the 11th month (Shevat). The specific tithes were due one year form the date preceded. (Sources: “The Book of Our Heritage”, By Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov/The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 185 [NKJV], by John MackArthur. (Taken from A Closer Look At Tithing by Victor T. Stephens”
When you pay money to a church as in tithing a tenth of your income, you are paying a tax of sorts. I would even say that you a paying a temple tax or a spiritual tax which the Lord does not require. What he does ask is that believer have a whole heart of giving.
Israel’s Tithing System
We cannot stress too strongly the importance of interpreting Scripture in context. By the simple expedience of beginning the text two verses earlier, we can see how dramatically that alters one’s perception. For example, in the New Testament, there is a verse that every Christian in the world knows – it is from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi and he writes, “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling,” I imagine that most Christians are familiar with this verse but how many can complete the sentence? “for it is God that is at work within you to will and to do.” [Phil. 2:12-13]
Now, if it is true that we have to be careful to set verses in their context, it is imperative that we also set the text into its historical and cultural context. In order to see these verses in their proper light, we must first ask the question – Under what Covenant was Malachi writing, the Old or the New? Quite clearly, Malachi is both Old Testament and Old Covenant. Therefore, any exposition and contemporary application needs to take that into account.
Unlike the New Covenant where we are a “Priesthood of Believers,” in the Old Covenant was a “Priest-class” – a specific tribe designated as Priests and this was the tribe of Levi. The Levitical Priesthood, as it was known, is the concern of the Malachi passage. The over-arching argument of Hebrews is that the Priesthood of Jesus is better than the Levitical Priesthood. The writer to the Hebrews insists that:
- The Levitical Priesthood was inferior to the priesthood of Melchizedek;
- The Levitical order is both outclassed and replaced by the new order and has become redundant.
Under the now redundant Levitical system, the priests acted as representatives for the people and served as mediators between them and God. Whilst having priestly privileges, a Levite had no worldly comforts. For example, he had no income and no property. A Levite had no independent means of support whatsoever. Moreover, when Jacob divided Israel’s inheritance, there was not even an allotment to Levi. In such circumstances, the other eleven tribes met the day-to-day needs of the Levites. It was, if you will, an Old Covenant quid pro quo – The other eleven tribes not being allowed to minister unto the Lord is tempered by the Levites not being able to work.
The solution was an entirely practical and pragmatic one. Each tribe would be responsible for bringing into a central storehouse one-tenth of their produce to meet their everyday needs. The Malachi passage is a rebuke to those who were withholding their support and thus, compromising this system.
I am of the view that tithing is one of the things in the Bible that is “biblical” but not Christian. I readily admit that for some that is a bitter pill to swallow but we take it for granted that circumcision is clearly biblical and yet, it is not viewed as Christian. The same can be said of polygamy. My fundamental objection is that those who press the hardest the case for tithing demand that we give like Israelites do not themselves live like Levites.
Moreover, if tithing is a New Covenant praxis, why does Paul not mention it when he writes a thoroughgoing passage on giving? I do not think that it is sufficient to argue from silence that tithing was an axiom of the Christian life. Accordingly, I raise the following objections:
- The Levitical priesthood belongs to the now obsolete Levitical Priesthood;
- The entire book of Hebrews makes the argument that Jesus and His Covenant is superior to Moses and his covenant;
- The point to note is not that Abraham paid the tithe but that Levi paid it. His purpose in doing so is to pose the question, “Which is the greater priesthood, the one who paid the tithe or the one who received it?”;
- Hebrews confirms that there has been both a change in the priesthood and a change in the law;
- In the New Covenant, there is no such office as Priest, rather, we are a royal priesthood; priest and pastor are not interchangeable terms;
- The apostle Paul not only supported himself, he also supported others. (Taken from The Tithing Controversy: No Laughing Matter by Paul Anderson-Walsh).
In the end as it relate to giving, you have to be free not to give and if you are not, then you are not free to give because it does not come from the heart but from percentage. Become a freewill give and don’t get trapped in the tentacles of income based tithing. Below is one of my readers. Thanks Charles for joining the tithe conversation.
- Is the Church the Storehouse for Tithing?
- Did Jesus Collect Tithes?
- Will a Man Rob God?
- Eating Tithes vs. Paying Tithes
- What are First Fruits in the Bible?
- Official Orthodox Biblical Tithing Has Passed Away
- Jesus and his Ministry Never Received Tithes
- Paul Never Taught Believers to Tithe Money
- The Church and Its Money Grab Tactics
- Monetary Tithing is not a Foregone Conclusion
- Money Tithing or Eatible tithing, Which One?
- Arguments Against Tithing Has a Long History
- What Does True Giving Look Like?
- Tithing on Increase
- The Law Does Not Teach Monetary Tithing
- Research Brings Truth
- Understanding Tithing Starts With a Definition
- The Fight Continues
- Did Paul Convert the Tithe to Money?
- How Did God’s Tithe Become Money?