But I wanted to post a few articles on the topic of tithing. Our friends over at The Wartburg Watch are posting some articles this week on the doctrine of tithing, and their first article is going up today.
Wartburg Watch on Tithing
Having been a member at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville while pastors Vines and Lindsay were there, and then for 2 1/2 years with Brunson, I noticed a vast difference between what Vines and Lindsay taught about Christian giving, and what Brunson taught. At first I thought the difference between Vines/Lindsay and Brunson was more technique than doctrine. But after more reflection and research I believe it more than technique, that the Brunson theology on giving is a dangerous, legalistic doctrine requiring one to tithe to be in a proper relationship with God - in fact to avoid God's wrath one must tithe or suffer severe consequences, and that Christians' failure to tithe is causing God to punish our country. Brunson's sheep-beater sermons on tithing have caused me to look more closely at what I've been taught about tithing from scripture.
I don't write any of this to discourage people from giving to their church, or to encourage people to give less to their church or to suggest people shouldn't give 10% to their church. But for goodness sakes its time for church people to wake up about what the modern church has been teaching about Christian giving and stewardship, especially given how many of these same pastors who are preaching it are themselves taking a chunk of the dough for their personal fortunes.
But as a starting point on my thoughts on tithing, I wish to share something that I came across earlier this year that I found startling and will be the basis for my blog posts on tithing. Its not so much startling because of its content, but because of the authors' affiliation.
I discovered two research papers published by two authors that do a complete biblical and doctrinal analysis of the issue of tithing - a deconstruction of Old Testament tithing doctrine misused by pastors for so long, and a reconstruction of biblical, New Testament grace giving. These two authors conclude in part that "..the view that Christians are required to give at least 10 percent of their income lacks adequate support from the biblical data".
Their research is very deep and scholarly. They not only debunk the myth that Christians are obligated by scripture to tithe, but they analyze the current cultural context of WHY pastors still try to sell this doctrine to their churches, when they KNOW (or should know) that it is not supported in scripture.
You say "So what, probably just a few liberal nuts who wrote some crazy paper on tithing."
You would be wrong.
This research paper is authored by two seminary professors at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary: Andreas Kostenburger and David Croteau. Andreas is still to this day a professor at SEBTS. Gee, he's probably friends with Jim Smyrl, famous SEBTS alum and creator of the "Theology Driven Ministry" model. Croteau is no longer at SEBTS, but is a professor at Liberty University. Croteau has a blog where he has many, many articles on the tithe.
There are lots of websites and voices out there that have said the same thing that Kostenburger and Croteau have said, but no one in the SBC pays them any attention. But these guys are two of our own, from a conservative SBC seminary, and they are worth listening to. This paper is probably not intended for stupid sheep like us who have been spoon fed the tithing doctrine our entire Christian lives, which makes it all the more important for us to read! This is information that your pastor probably knows, or as I said, SHOULD know - but they still tell you that you are robbing God if you don't meet the 10% tithing threshold.
So I will share some summaries and thoughts on these two papers by Kostenburger and Croteau. I encourage you, if you have the time, to browse these papers. They are not difficult reading. Be careful, as you might end up a little miffed, wondering why your pastor still pulls out Malachi 3 to tell you that you must tithe, and that you must bring it all into the "storehouse" and that the church is that "storehouse" and that you are "robbing God" if you don't. That is a fable we've been told by pastors who themselves probably know its not true, but they do it since it helps keep the sheep's wallets lubed and makes for hefty offerings on the "move that mountain" Sunday. Sad thing is, this false doctrine allows the richest members to drop their 10% in the plate and strut around as though they've met some magic (although artificial) threshold of giving that makes them spiritually superior - and then they can be super-super spiritual by declaring they are "tithing on the tithe".
Here are the articles so that you may read them yourself. The website at which these are published is a site founded by Kostenburger himself: