As we continue our look at tithing, and specifically what the very respected biblical scholar John MacArthur teaches on the subject, we see that there was no 10% tithe in the Old Testament. There was a 23% tithe that included multiple tithes. But some preachers like to hang the 10% around the necks of Christians today as some sort of holy commandment from God that determines one's obedience in giving.
But circumcision and the Sabbath don't raise revenue in the modern day mega church, so mega church pastors leave those OT pre-Mosaic laws alone - although one might be able to think of some creative ways the church could take a cut on revenue from a circumcision ministry (no pun intended). If cutting genitalia would increase revenue at the modern mega church, I truly believe some preachers WOULD teach it from the Old Testament. As Gaines said recently, Jesus came not to do away with the law, but to increase the law (my Bible says Jesus came to fulfill the law)...so let's circumcise, and let's do it all the way.
But the hard-core storehouse tithing preachers don't preach circumcision. Circumcision won't raise any church revenue or build any mega church empires.
To understand MacArthur's view on tithing, you have to understand this: MacArthur does not say that the Old Testament law on tithing doesn't apply to us as Christians under the New Covenant. Rather, he shows from scritpure that there WAS NO 10% tithing requirement on the Jews. In fact, the REQUIRED giving (which was much more than 10%) was a TAXATION to run a theocratic form of government, and thus has no application whatsoever to Christians giving finances to church. Read MacArthur's words:
"Now let me say at this point just by way of a footnote. I know that this is new to some of you who perhaps were raised in a church or been in a church where they hammered on tithing and they said that the way Christians are to give is to give ten percent because that's the way the Jews give. I know that that is something that is taught commonly. That is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible does not teach the Jews gave ten percent. As I pointed out it teaches that they gave about 25 percent. It was not their giving to God, it was their payment to the theocracy, to the government. It had to be brought into the temple treasury and not to bring it was to rob God, according to Malachi 3:8, of His due tithes and offerings. That was taxation. I know that that is perhaps new to some of you but that is clearly what the Scripture teaches. It's what I've taught for many, many, many years, we just haven't been able to cover it recently."
MacArthur points out that the "tithe" was not 10%, but was about 23.3%...the Jews were required to give 10% to the Levitical priests (Lev 27), to support them as they had no way to provide for themselves. They were the leaders of the nation, "God's vice presidents" in the theocracy, as MacArthur says. There was a second tithe, for festivals, found in Deuteronomy. There was also a welfare tithe, which was 10% every three years.
So you, Christian church member attending a church where your preacher is a hard-core storehouse tither sheep beater - you have to deal with this. Why does your preacher beat up the sheep and threaten them with God's judgment and "messed up" finances, accusing the sheep of robbing God if they don't meet the 10% threshold? Why does your pastor continue to paint all those that DO give 10% as "baby" or "ABC" Christians as Steve Gaines did recently? At best a preacher can use the Old Testament to teach a principle that a Christian might want to consider 10% as a starting point of giving...but to actually teach 10% is the rock-solid biblical borderline between obedience and disobedience for followers of Jesus is a false doctrine. Am I being too strong in saying that? I don't think so. But if you think that too harsh, consider that Mac Brunson goes so far as to accuse those who disagree with HIM on the view of storehouse tithing of "doing the work of Satan". Listen to Mac Brunson here.
MacArthur summarizes his views on tithing and the Old Testament like this (taken from sermons hyperlinked at end of this post):
"The required taxation for the theocracy was twenty-three percent, not very far different from the required taxation in Egypt when they were required to give twenty percent. So those who say the Jews gave ten percent are wrong. They did not give ten percent. They gave ten percent, ten percent, and another three and a third percent every year in order to fund the national government. That was required giving. In another words, that was taxation to fund the government. The government was there to lead them to God, to protect them, to provide an army to secure them, to provide resources for them, to create the social character of the nation and keep them as one great people involved in religious ceremonies and to meet the needs of those among them who were destitute."
In the next post, we'll continue to look at what MacArthur says about freewill offerings in the Old Testament, and what Jesus said about giving to the government and generous giving under the New Covenant.
Finally, no doubt storehouse tithers have their rebuttals against what MacArthur teaches on tithing. But here's my point: the hardcore storehouse tithers - I'll use Brunson and Gaines as examples - they will not exegete their views on tithing like MacArthur has. Instead, they stand in their pulpits and refer to previous pastors - they'll put video and audio clips of past pastors who told their people to tithe. They'll say "its what the Bible teaches", and they will push it on their people arrogantly and unlovingly, sometimes even mockingly. They expect their sheep to just believe it because THEY say it is in the Bible. They'll say not to argue with the preacher over tithing, but to "take it up with the book". They'll even make wild claims that God is punishing America with high gas prices and a terrible economy because of Christian disobedience in the matter of "tithing". They'll tell people their finances are a wreck precisely because they do not tithe. They will even say the tithe must be "undesignated" giving to the church.
But they won't exegete it out of scripture.
Perhaps it is because they can't do it.
So I challenge them to do it. Teach storehouse tithing clearly from the book, brother pastors; exegete it out of scripture like you do most other doctrines. We'll give you 10 bonus points if you attempt to address the "incorrect" teaching of MacArthur on tithing in your sermon.
Readers, if they do, we'll give them equal time and put their arguments here for all to see.
To read MacArthur's views on tithing for yourself, here are the links:
A Biblical Model For Giving - Part 1
A Biblical Model For Giving - Part 2
A Biblical Model For Giving - Part 3
A Biblical Model For Giving - Part 4