The point is that even sincere, well-meaning preachers can have it wrong about tithing being a requirement on Christians, teaching 10% as a dividing line between obedience and disobedience.
At the same time, I also believe that while many preachers who have taught the tithe for decades are sincere, many of the new generation of pastors coming up KNOW it is not supported in scripture but they have latched onto the doctrine as a means of revenue maximization, or they are afraid of peer rejection if the speak the truth on giving. Even young preachers like Perry Noble in the emergent church movment that have jettisoned almost every single Baptist tradition from their night-club style churches, have refused to get rid of the tithing tradition and still hang it around the necks of their church members in very threatening ways.
Fortunately, there are some young preachers who are speaking the truth. David A. Croteau is a Ph.D. graduate of Southeastern Theological Seminary and a professor at Liberty University (not the seminary), and his doctoral research at SEBTS was on the tithing doctrine. He has published a book this year, "You Mean I Don't Have to Tithe: A Deconstruction of Tithing and a Reconstruction of Post-Tithe Giving", which was borne out of his years of doctoral research as a Ph.D. student at our own Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary under the tutelage of Dr. Andreas Kostenberger. Croteau's exhaustive research on tithing included a complete survey and categorization of major church leaders and writers and their tithing views from the 1st century to the modern day.
And Croteau's research shows a wide distribution both for and against the tithe being binding on Christians. So it is up to us to not just buy the line that because Homer or Vines or Rogers taught tithing, that it must be true, and to say tithing is unbiblical means we have to reject everything else they taught. That is not so. They could have been sincerely wrong. Some might have taken their views because they were under immense pressure to raise funds at their church, we don't know.
Thus, I recommend to Christians who want to know the truth about tithing to listen to credible Christians who have no financial interest in pushing the tithing doctrine like David Croteau, John MacArthur, George Barna, and Frank Viola. There are many others, but these are more credible ones that I have read, and recommend that others read as well. The scholarly approach of Croteau is fascinating - no question the book comes from a PhD dissertation. If your pastor still is teaching the doctrine of tithing, you might want to buy him a copy of Croteau's book!
Two of the endorsers of Croteau's book are David Alan Black and Andreas Kostenberger at SEBTS, who write:
"Are Christians obligated to tithe? David Croteau thinks not, and argues that it is only our traditionalism that prevents us from following the biblical instructions about giving. The New Covenant foundation for giving is always relationship-driven, grace-driven, and love-driven. "Radical obedience is required," the author states. But Christians who give less than 10 percent "do not sin." I am impressed with Mr. Croteau's work. It offers valid, profound, and inspiring direction to all and especially evangelical Christians." David Alan Black, SEBTS
"David Croteau's study promises to be the definitive work on tithing for years to come. Croteau provides a thorough survey of the history of scholarship on the issue, exegetes all relevant biblical texts, and discusses all the major systematic theological issues at stake. But Croteau does not stop there. He sets tithing within the framework of the larger pattern of New Covenant giving, which renders his study not merely academically significant but also immensely practical. For all those interested in the subject of giving, tithing, and financial Christian stewardship, this is a must-read-highly recommended." Andreas J. KostenbergerSo we must search the bible ourselves, find out if indeed the bible teaches that we as Christians are obligated to give 10% of our income to our local church as a pathway to receive God's blessings. We should NOT rely on the preacher to TELL US what we are to do with our money. We should not allow them to use guilt tactics on us. We should not listen to financial planners hired by the church who on one hand tell the church they must tithe without exception, but then on the other hand never say anything about tithing or giving to their secular "market". Read the bible for yourself to see what Jesus Christ would have you do with your money today. Read authors like Croteau and MacArthur to help you "deconstruct" what you have been taught for decades about tithing, and your eyes will be opened up as to just what Jesus Christ would have you use your resources for.
And a word to those preachers who even take the tithing doctrine to new heretical levels - like declaring that we will actually suffer at the hands of God if we DO NOT tithe, falsely accusing Christians of dealing in stolen goods who are caring for their families first as the New Testament commands us...those who preach that "not tithing" is a special, natinal sin that God hates and will judge a nation financially because of it - well, these men should be exposed and their views brought to light so their ideas and teachings can be examined by Christians. That is what this blog will continue to do.
Thank God for the work of David Croteau. He was one who dared to take this issue on, and to write the truth about the doctrine, and to put forth a correct biblical view of Christian stewardship. Thank God for Andreas Kostenberger who supported and mentored Croteau in this research.
I suppose if Croteau's work is read by enough people, preachers will try to discredit him, like was done with Barna and Viola last month in the FBC Jax pulpit. But it will be hard to discredit Croteau. He is one of our own, taught in one of our own seminaries, and mentored by one of the most respected professors at SEBTS. And Croteau had absolutely no financial gain to be made by completing his research, but rather he knew going into his research that he would be inviting the scorn of his fellow Southern Baptists. I'm sure his book will not be required reading any time soon at our seminaries! I suppose some preachers might even try to get he or Kostenberger fired for their views, but that's already been tried unsuccessfully.
Next, I will show an example of how even Adrian Rogers had it wrong on the tithe. And still stay tuned for the 2nd part of the previous post on the Brunson sermon on tithing, entitled "Is God our Father, or is He the Godfather".