Several years ago my journey into the history of tithing began. In fact, my entire Christian experience has had a question mark about tithing. It all began 30 years ago, but my decision to resign from tithing didn’t come full circle until 6 years ago. To make a long story short, an earnest prayer and a little help from a tithing paper written by a Jewish rabbi set the stage for me to launch out into the doctrinal quagmire to seek the truth for myself. What You are about to read is my letter of resignation from tithing to grace giving right before I left my former church.
People deceived about scriptures do not know they are deceived until they study to show themselves approved. Most religious circles and denominations teach tithing as a mandate from God without question. Based on the current popular teachings, it appears that mandatory tithing is a fact that cannot be questioned. That is what I thought for more than 30 years until I decided to examine the modern tithing system to see if I could prove its validity beyond a shadow of a doubt.
For years, I recognized inconsistencies in tithe teachings. I saw people claim blessings and enjoy the spoils of the practice. But I also noticed other people who tithed regularly but remained in financial hardship throughout their lives. The more I saw people pay tithes to get them out of debt, the more some went deeper into debt.
This may be a shocking admission, but if you look hard enough, there are haves and have-nots in the tithing community of believers today. The excuses offered by pastors, teachers and tithe proponents for why some people receive blessings for tithing and others receive nothing never passed the common sense test. This troubled me for years, and when I encountered struggle with tithing, I was told to tithe no matter what my financial circumstances look liked.
In 2006, I began to tithe on gross pay after I heard pastors in my former church offer challenges that a true tithe is on gross pay only. After much pulpit persuasion, I relented to tithing on gross, even though I was not quite sure it would work. My wife hesitantly went along with me, but she had strong reservations and believed we could not afford to tithe on gross. But my hopes were stirred by the promises of blessings for obeying scripture. When they said the first tenth belonged to God and in return I would receive His financial blessings, I coughed up the money. Needless to say, tithing on gross income before taxes while attending this church for seven years drove me deeper into debt. I finally realized after talking to my wife after we stopped tithing that our financial situation was much worse than I imagined. If a change had not happened when it did, bankruptcy was on the horizon. And as a tithing believer for years, it would have been my third bankruptcy. One thing I can say for sure is that tithing never prevented financial disaster in my life.
Do tithing Christians go bankrupt? The answer is yes. Sadly, the windows of heaven never opened, as I was lead to believe. I cannot understand why the church will not embrace the New Testament giving principles. When I decided to resign from tithing after my initial research study, it did not set well with my pastor at the time. He was in total disagreement. Looking back, I think he assumed like most pastors that I did not want to give to help the church anymore and that strained our relationship. Most people say non-tithers are stingy people who don’t want to give. Accusations are thrown grace givers like Molotov cocktails who just want to give from their heart absent of percentages. When I tried to have a private discussion on the matter, it turned into a public shaming effort to convince me to change my theological shift after I requested that my giving decision be kept private.
After much discussion, I resigned from the church and submitted my tithing resignation letter. What you’ll read below is the letter I wrote to the pastor detailing my initial conclusions about tithing. The pastor refused to give the letter to the other Elders and I can’t help but think it was because he did not want others to know my findings on the subject. I can understand that. Discovering a new giving paradigm can affect people in many different ways, especially if you’ve been taught something biblically for years and discover the whole truth has been half-truths. When I found out about the true orthodox biblical tithe and searched the scriptures, I could not believe I had been hoodwinked for 30 years. I could have become a post-tithe giver as Paul taught and avoided many financial setbacks through the years. I can only conclude that all my giving resulted from fear and Malachi became the single motive of my giving to avoid a curse from God.
What motivates giving? If a person understands authentic biblical giving using correct scriptural information, it sets them free to give. Giving begins by eliminating the ten percent mandate, which allows the heart to embrace generous freewill giving. Sometimes giving from the heart will be more than ten percent and sometimes it’s less and giving is not limited to cold hard cash. All giving must be from the heart according to scripture. My journey from tithing to embracing post-tithe giving set me free and changed my life both positively and negatively. The journey began with my tithing resignation letter explaining the theological shift.
The letter below is my heartfelt response on how I dealt with the situation. To those who read this letter, not all pastors know the truth about tithing. They are just teaching traditions of men and have failed to search the scriptures for themselves. Some pastors know the truth about tithing but are convinced congregations will not give unless there is either a curse attached for not tithing or a promise of blessings attached to motivate paying the tenth. This is done because there is a tendency to marginalize and undervalue God’s people as stingy non-givers with selfish motives.
The Reason For Resigning From Tithing
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 buried myself in studying this topic and have concluded that the tithe teaching lacks scholarship and cannot be biblically proven conclusively in the New Covenant beyond a shadow of a 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 council 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 not tithing creates some conflict and probably more so to the bottom line of the church. Certainly, I am deeply 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 the 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 that are wanting. 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. 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 XXY Church knowing that major differences exist 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 experience. Metateneo is the Greek word for repent which involves changing your mind. In the spirit of the Jewish Rabbi/Student relationship, my tithing 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 (Jesus), I’ve entered this debate because this is how Hebrew people studied and taught one another. By me offering my points and you 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’s OK among theologians. My thoughts about this issue are directed at the doctrine of tithing and the lack of study done by those who try to teach something they contextually misunderstand either out of ignorance or on purpose.
This situation is not so strange. It reminds me of the incident in Acts 15:36-41 when Barnabas and Paul had a sharp dispute with others 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 Barnabas for now in the interest of peace and as Hebrews 12:14-15 says:
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord: Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled (NKJV).
I know people will say, tithing was before the law, but make sure the people also know that Abram was not commanded to pay 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 him only tithing once and scripture never states he tithed again. Using Abraham as proof text to support tithing is a weak foundation and it cheapens the promises of the New Covenant. I know people will say that tithing is an expression of devotion by sincere people who love God, but the fact remains; tithing is still a ceremonial law and an ordinance of the Old Testament that was nailed to the cross. Therefore tithing is low-realm, obsolete and defunct and the pontificators of tithing ultimately introduce weakness and confusion into the minds of believers. To substantiate the doctrine of tithing after the order of Melchizedek by saying you are tithing to Jesus then, all tithers can only give one tithe as Abram did when he tithed once to Melchizedek. That is problematic because to give physically to the Messiah like Abram gave to Melchizedek, the tither or the church must go to war with another church or denomination like Abram did against kings and wins the battle. Then the tither or the denomination must take the tenth of the spoils captured from the losing congregation and give it to Jesus. Now that is absurd because the argument is out of context and so is using Abram’s tithing example out of context for the modern cash flow tithe system. Abram’s tithing example before the law does not resemble the tithe under the law and that’s why no believer can follow it. Though the belief has been that tithing came before the law, if you look closely at the scriptures, the reality is the other way around. The law came first as the ten commandments in Exodus chapter 20, then the tithe followed in the statutes of Leviticus 27:30-33 and as an ordinance in Numbers chapter 18.
Let me make myself perfectly clear. If a person freely and willingly gives a percentage of their income as a personal decision based on grace and not out of fear of a curse ripped from a scriptural text with an implied new meaning, they are free to do so. 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. Tithe teachers who hold Malachi 3 to the heads of God’s people like a 357 magnum and pull the trigger with a curse upon them have committed the greatest betrayal of GRACE and the work of Christ on the cross that almost rivals Judas’ betrayal of Christ with a kiss. Of everything I’ve witnessed over thirty years, no one has ever been able to explain why there are ghettos and inner cities still full of generations of tithers who remain one paycheck away from the soup kitchen. Ok, I get it. The answer has always been they did not put their seed in the right place. 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. 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.
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 methodology. By definition, a proof text is a verse or short passage from the Bible used by someone as part of his or her accurate proof for a particular doctrinal belief they wish to substantiate to others. Over 30 years, I’ve heard many tithing sermons. Some of them were nothing more than slick fundraising techniques where scriptures are extracted from the Bible with the intent justify mandatory ten percent giving. 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. A set of such proof texts can completely ignore other passages, which if inserted back into the mix, can lead to a totally different conclusion. Someone who relies on a list of proof texts from scripture to make a doctrinal argument stick has a very weak case for that argument.
In theological circles, a religious teacher who relies heavily on proof texting is viewed as negative. For example, after reading and examining the whole book Malachi in its context and the infamous verse in Malachi 3:10 that’s used by many to support tithing, I realized that Malachi is not talking to or suggesting any Gentile or New Covenant believer to tithe, but verse 10 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 tithing requirements outlined under the Law. I bet no leader in today’s church would demand 22 percent or more of people’s income and then ask for a freewill offering to boot. In fact, if we follow this logic, to obey any part of the law and not do all of it, you are guilty and accountable for all it. For tithe teachers to prove a doctrinal tithing requirement, 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 Talmud 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 through oral law extended the tithe of the Mosaic Law in the Talmud 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.
Biblical and secular history on this subject is replete with examples of the tithing wars among Christian leaders that have raged over the centuries. For example, biblical history tells us that the reformer Martin Luther stood for salvation by grace and was against confessing sin to a human priest but only to Christ. We hail him for his conviction, but we pass over, ignore and fail to declare the whole counsel about the man’s tithing beliefs and that he preached against tithing way back in a sermon on August 27, 1525. The sermon title was, “How Christians Should Regard Moses.”
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 notion as incorrect because after Calvary there is no biblical text to support any exact percentage as a starting point in the New Testament. The principle of interpreting New Covenant giving starting at ten percent sounds good, but it is pure assumption and nonsense. 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 and 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 graceless teaching in the future. As I continue in the 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.
It is my prayer and honest desire that a real conversation happens when this book is read. One thing that might come from the truth is that people discover they never robbed God, but in fact, they may have been robbed of the truth concerning the financial freedom to give from the heart. In fact, the blessing of Abraham and your inheritance comes through faith, not through the ordinance of tithing. Romans 4:13 makes this fact clear, For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. The promise was not based on tithing but based on faith and YHWH’s purposes, which already declares we are blessed as Galatians 3:9 and Ephesians 1:3 states. To that end, every believer who is concerned about the financial future of their family must never forget the words of Paul in 2 Tim 2:15, when he said, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (KJV). And we must always search the scriptures as he states in Acts 17:11 that you may personally know the truth about tithing and every other biblical subject. Never swallow anyone hook, line or sinker.
My original tithing letter appears on Authors Den How To Resign From Tithing