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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

With the Usual Disclaimer...

That "usual disclaimer" being that I don't agree with every jot and tittle of what Wade Burleson writes. There, now that that's out of the way...

I read this post with interest, and if you have any interest in Christian giving, you might find it interesting, too. The upshot, as far as I am concerned, is that Wade Burleson has said out loud in a widely-read forum what an awful lot of Bible-reading folks have long thought, but not said out loud, for fear of the looks they will get, or being preached at by certain people:

There is no command in Scripture for Christians to give a certain percentage of their income.

You heard me. None. There are plenty of commands to give generously, joyfully, as led by the Spirit, proportionately, and so forth, but there are no commands given as to a specific percentage, nor even as to where it's supposed to go.

I know an awful lot of you have grown up in churches where tithing--and contrary to one well-meaning-person-I-know's assertions, tithing does specifically refer to ten percent, not "regular on-going giving"--has been taught for decades. Many of you have read your Bibles over and over, and when you casually give thought to what you hear from the pulpit on the subject of giving from time to time, the thought has crept into the back of your head that something doesn't quite add up...

You're right. Again, there is no command in Scripture for Christians to give a specific percentage of their income. You do not have to take my word for it. Get yourself some Bible software--you can go to E-Sword and get some for free (you can even get the ESV for free with it), and do the searches. Look for "tithe," "tithing," "tenth," and "giving," and anything else you care to look up. You will find plenty of instructions for Jews to tithe (and even that tithing was handled and carried out considerably different from what you might have been led to believe), but you will not find one command for the Christian to do that.

You will say, "But MOTW, I've heard all my life that we're supposed to tithe. If there's no such command, where do preachers get that?"

I wish I knew. I've never, ever heard an argument from Scripture that didn't torture it in the process of being made. Usually, preachers argue from some instance in the Old Testament and then tell you that they've found "a principle" in the Old Testament about tithing.

Mark it well: when a preacher tells you that he's discovered "a principle" to which he wants to hold you accountable, it usually means his case from Scripture is weak.

Don't assume from this that I think Christians shouldn't give, and give generously. That's not the case. I just don't see the point in trying to hold them accountable to a command that simply does not exist.

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