"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Daring to Challenge the Storehouse Tithing Doctrine

With the release of Croteau's latest book, I am republishing the article below in November 2010, with a few minor updates, discusses the path Croteau took in coming to investigate the tithing doctrine, and just how sacred it is considered amongst the SBC power structure.
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In David A. Croteau's book "You Mean I Don't Have to Tithe: A Deconstruction of Tithing and a Reconstruction of Post-Tithe Giving" you will read in the preface just how Croteau came to question that his long-held view of the applicability of the Old Testament tithe to the Christian might be false.

And Croteau gives a glimpse of just how sacred this doctrine is to denominational leaders and how those who question it are punished.

Croteau's testimony in this regard is very interesting to me, as I found his experience to be very similar to my own, and the same as others I've talked to. I've come to believe that many of the erroneous doctrines we are taught we easily believe them if they are taught "gently" and sincerely to us. Sometimes it is not until some bull-in-a-china-shop kind of preacher comes into our lives and kicks the doctrinal door down when we finally wake up and realize what we were taught all along was wrong.

Here are some excerpts from Croteau's preface that give a glimpse of how he started on his journey:
"I was driving to work in the fall of 1999 and listening to Christian talk radio. John MacArthur was in the middle of a sermon and he was explaining why the tithe was not applicable to Christians. I had never heard anyone actually challenge the applicability of the tithe before, so this took me totally by surprise."
Most of us in Baptist pews have been taught this doctrine as fact for so long, even by well-meaning and sincere preachers. We have not heard SBC preachers dare to consider that the Old Testament tithing laws do not apply to Christians under grace. Preachers at best take a hybrid approach: that yes, we are obligated to tithe, but the New Testament says we should do the forking over joyfully and not under compulsion - in fact we should give more than the tithe as proof of just how darned joyful we are. As someone who was saved in a Southern Baptist Church as a teenager in college, I know the tithe has always been an expectation. It is planted into the minds of preschoolers. The Malachi 3:8-10 application to Christian tithing was never, ever to be questioned. If you don't tithe, you're a God-robber, a cheapskate, plain and simple. No one dares question the doctrine. You are expected to tithe - you check the box that says you are a tither on your committment card, and pray no one at church sees your tax returns to see you're only giving 4% on the gross.

But here is what is happening: as the new generation of preachers are beginning to become more brazen about the doctrine, taking it to the extremes now of saying non-tithing Christians are under God's judgment or a curse, that your money is under a curse until you "redeem" it through giving 10% to your church, or that God will take your money anyways through calamity if you do NOT tithe, blaming your family or financial misfortune on your lack of "faith" to "bring the tithe"...this is jolting more people to open their eyes and question the very basis of the doctrine that we have just accepted blindly for so long.

And thank God there are some men who are coming forth and not afraid to tell the truth. MacArthur is probably the most prominent one for a long time, as are Barna and Viola, but these are not Southern Baptists. Croteau is - he is trained in our seminary, and his research has the endorsement of Dr. Andreas Kostenberger at SEBTS.

Here is what Croteau says he did after he was challenged to question the tithing doctrine after listening to MacArthur's views on tithing:
"That night when I got home from work I read every passage in the Old and New Testaments that mentioned the tithe...at about two o'clock in the morning, I realized I was beat: I could not decipher what was being described. I called MacArthur's radio ministry and ordered the six part series on tithing. Thus began my journey into this subject; ten years later I have now completed this book."
So Croteau made this the topic of his Ph.D. dissertation at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Andreas Kostenberger approved the topic, and Croteau admits he was concerned over the opposition he would face from his writing:
"..I was not looking forward to the opposition with which the concepts would be received. I had already studied the topic for over five years and the resistance I had met with when discussing it with people was, at times, intense."

How true. Bring up this topic in your Sunday School class. Tell your Sunday School class when you next discuss money matters, something like this: "Christians are not under the Old Testament law of tithing. Malachi 3 has been misused for decades by taking it totally out of context. We are to follow the New Testament model to be generous, but there is no prescribed percentage." Try it and see what happens.

During the course of his research Croteau says he reached out to two authors that are cited in his book, and their responses made him realize tithing was more of a "hot button" topic than he realized.
"The first man said that after he had written his book, every church he visited ostracized him because of his view. He was unable to get a job in ministry, so he went back to school and earned a Ph.D. in journalism and began his second career....The second man commented that he received so much disdain for his view that he quickly left the Baptist denomination."
My hope is that more and more Christians will be shocked by the false teachings in our mainstream churches on this doctrine, by men who have a vested financial and professional interest in the perpetuation of the doctrine. Christians must understand they are NOT obligated to blindly fork over 10% minimum to their church, with no accountability from church leadership. They can and SHOULD if they are so led by the Holy Spirit, but not under compulsion, or coercion, or scare tactics. But they are also free to be generous with their money as God leads them in doing His work through many avenues, not just their church.

When Christians realize they are free to give as the Holy Spirit leads them to being generous and cheerful, then that is when the true church will use it's resources more for true Kingdom work, and less for building the kingdoms of men and preachers.

Croteau wraps up his preface by saying:
"I pray that this work will be received by gentle hearts open to the attempt I have made to inductively analyze Scripture's teaching on this complex, important, and very practical subject. My hope is that readers will interact with the content of this book and not attempt to guess at hidden motives or agendas, that ad hominem attacks will remain on the sideline, and that, through dialogue, the evangelical community will strive to come closer to the truth and thus bring glory to our God."
We shall see in the coming years how Croteau's views are treated. He will likely face the same ostracizing as others, and the same cast of SBC characters will probably belittle his views from their pulpits/stages. You won't see Croteau at the next SBC pastor's conference...but perhaps it will be a grassroots effort. Let the lay people see the truth on tithing, sharing it with others. Let's call for transparency in church finances and if refused, perhaps the Holy Spirit will guide you into giving in other areas. And let's be sure to challenge pastors who teach wrongly on giving.

And I will continue to highlight on this blog the preachers who are abusing their congregations through the storehouse tithing doctrine, as well as highlight those that are brave enough to teach the New Testament principles of giving.

And over time we can make a difference.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

WD.. very thought provoking.. I too believe that many in the SBC are indoctrinated with man's interpretation of God's word, thus following tradition as oppose to biblical application.

While I am a tither and will probably continue to be, I tithe out of direction by the Holy Spirit and as an offering to God for His blessings, not because I "have" too.

Will get the book and read it as I love to challenge tradition!

Thanks again for bringing this to our attention.. Great job WD.

Anonymous said...

I've mentioned this to Watchdog in a private email but to share with others--the pastor of the SBC church I attend does not teach the tithe. And he won't. He made it clear when he was hired and he got some opposition initially, but the church's finances have actually improved. He happens to also be a student at the same seminary at Croteau. Here's hoping he doesn't read this ha ha.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 11:25 - just to clarify - I have never been against "tithing" or the practice of someone determining they want to give 10% (or any percent) to their church. That is between them and God.

But I do call for mega churches to be more transparent with how the money is spent, and for the new breed of storehouse tithing teachers to stop the bashing of the sheep through misuse of scripture, proclaiming curses on their money, and painting God as some sort of holy mob boss who collects on the 10% debt that you owe him.

So give generously as the Lord leads, that is fine. My message is to the storehouse tithing abusers to stop their abuse.

Anonymous said...

Well, the Mega-Pastors have a new tool in their arsenal of false teachings. This one comes from a little-known and little-taught book: Haggai. God is actually addressing rich people here, who were reveling in their riches instead of rebuilding the temple for the coming of Jesus. It has nothing to do with tithing, but giving of time and resources to do something for OTHERS. It is also saying that because they are ignoring God, their riches mean nothing.

YET the teaching was/is:
"What happens if we ignore the needs of God's house?" (i.e. if we do not tithe?)

And the verse is:
1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerub'babel the son of She-al'ti-el, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehoz'adak, the high priest, 2 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: This people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD." 3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, 4 "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider how you have fared. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes. 7 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider how you have fared. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory, says the LORD.

Another threat from the prosperity preachers, as they grow more and more fearful as the economy sinks into an even deeper depression, that their fat salaries will evaporate for good. (Not true, though, the government will pay their way as they need the pastors to control people).

They love telling people, just trust God, he'll take care of it. Just keep giving a tithe and nothing will happen to you.

Ok churches, you "just trust God," then. He'll take care of you.
You don't need any money from the congregation.

Ok? Just trust God to provide everything for you. Leave other people out of it. Let me know how that works for you.

Anonymous said...

Bottom Line...Storehouse Tithing..

PAYS THOSE BIG SALARIES!!!

Folks, do you realize that our Salaries at FBCJAX are well over 2 million dollars a year.

HUH??? This is crazy!!

Who is making all this money???

We don't exactly know because they won't tell us!

We will not be able sustain this finacial drain, there is no way. We are not even meeting budget.

The ship is sinking and I think God is pulling the plug.

Our attendance is horrible and the atmosphere is toxic.

I was in the restroom Sunday and I spoke with a Senior member who told me that he felt like he has been "spiritually abuse" at our Church. He said when the Pastor gets up to preach, that he physically can feel his blood pressure going up from the stress that is in that room.

This is very unhealthy.

We need to pray for our Church and ask God to take the "Cancer" out.

You know "WHO" the cancer is.....

Anonymous said...

Looks like the TROLL has switched sides. More evidence that he is indeed a TROLL.

man said...

I go to FBC Orlando, and I started tithing a little less than a year ago. Unlike churches I've attended growing up, I never felt pressured to tithe or give period in the 4 years I've been at this church. (Oh, btw, this is not just a megachurch thing).

A few sermons ago, the pastor even told us that he hates begging for money. I've never really seen it happen. Yes, there is an expectation for tithing, but it is never beaten into us.

I am really tight with my money, so I make my budget work. I think one of the reasons I feel comfortable giving like I do here is because I don't see them beg every week.

Anonymous said...

WD, I agree 100% that giving (tithing ) is between the person and God and not demanded by preachers. I also agree with complete financial disclosure of all expenses within the church. Its the people's church to begin with, why wouldn't be shown exactlly how funds are spent that we give. Any non-profit organization is required to disclose that information, why not churches? Why don't the people demand it?

Anon 12:57PM, I agree. I remember Dr. Lynsday not taking a salary increase.

Dr. Lynsday also lived with the people and not in some gated community on a golf course in a house twice the size of the need. Aren't all the Brunson children out of the house?

Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

While I do agree that there is no mandate for 10% tithing, we ARE commanded to pay our pastors and elders. Galatians 6:6-10 says:

One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

and 1 Timothy 5:17-18:

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double pay, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages.

“Whoa!” someone says. “It says ‘honor’ in my version.” Well, that’s a shame; there is no excuse for obscuring Paul’s meaning. The original Greek word, 'time'[τιμή,{tee-may}] can mean both “honor” and “pay.“ That the second rendering must be given to the term in this context is clear from verse 18, in which Paul buttresses his command (note, again, this is not an optional matter) with a quotation that has to do with earning one’s living by his work (just as the ox earns his food). Even today, the Greek word 'time' caries the idea of payment or cost.

So, while, an Elder may be paid more than the average of his members’ earnings, congregations must not pay him less — without sin.

Anonymous said...

"So, while, an Elder may be paid more than the average of his members’ earnings, congregations must not pay him less — without sin."

How did you come to this conclusion.
Please define "elder."

Anonymous said...

Anon2:19; I don't think anyone is saying a preacher shouldn't be paid, but at the extent that these megachurch preachers are getting paid is a perverted view of 1 Tim 5:17 & 18. I would hardly think a preacher making 3 or 4 times the average salary of their church members is right. What is the average salary of an FBC church member? When I was there mine was $25K.

In reference to 1 Tim 5:18, I don't think I have ever seen an emaciated preacher. They are always well fed!

Honor isn't always in the form of cash either, it can be size of congregation, position within the city, loyalty of members. I don't think Moses was paid very well but the children of Israel honored him.

Again, Dr. Lynsday was not paid anywhere near the amount for managing a mulitmillion dollar buget, over 10 direct reports, etc.

BUT he was honored!

Student of HISTORY said...

"How did you come to this conclusion.
Please define "elder."

You cannot do that!!! Definitions require "history" and as we all know "history" is bad if taught by Brunson or any other "mega" preacher.

Forget the FACT that the Scripture is HISTORY and that any good expositor studies and presents it in the context of what? You guessed it---HISTORY!!!

Forget the FACT that WD uses HISTORY to justify his position on giving and TITHING.

I don't think you can have it bought ways!!

Anonymous said...

"Again, Dr. Lynsday was not paid anywhere near the amount for managing a mulitmillion dollar buget, over 10 direct reports, etc."

When were you there? Dr. Lindsey was making over six figures the entire time I was at FBCJ with anniversary bonuses in the tens of thousands each year.

Anonymous said...

""Again, Dr. Lynsday was not paid anywhere near the amount for managing a mulitmillion dollar buget, over 10 direct reports, etc."

Actually, I don't think you ever attended FBCJ as you do not even know how his name was spelled.

GO AWAY TROLL!!

Anonymous said...

To answer the question regarding my statments on July 13, 2011 2:19 PM

Elders in title fulfill the fole of being: elder, overseer, shepherd & steward. See:

Acts 20:17,28
Tit 1:5,7
1 Pe 5:1,2

I believe average salary would be derived as follows (assuming a traditional 10% tithe)

3,000 familes tithe and it equates to 1,500,000 Take the 1,500,000 and divide by the number of families giving you the average per family rate of $500. Now, multiply this by 10 to give the pastor what he would earn if he were at a church consisting of 10 people. (10% times 10 families = a full salary) In this case, the pastor would earn $5,000 a month.

NOW, this is the MINIMUM salary for the pastor. But since "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double pay, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching." You could bump that pay up to $10,000 a month, or $100,000 a year. But I wouldn't think you should make more than the doubled amount.

Anonymous said...

Take a peek at Smyrl's latest tweet.

Anonymous said...

What does the tweet say? Can you post it here?

Thy Peace said...

Smyrl: A bivocational pastor.

Anonymous said...

"Elders in title fulfill the fole of being: elder, overseer, shepherd & steward. See:"

"Acts 20:17,28
Tit 1:5,7
1 Pe 5:1,2"

So everyone who fits this description should be paid at least as much as the average church member or it is sin? Where is this stated in scripture?


"I believe average salary would be derived as follows (assuming a traditional 10% tithe)"

Actually the Israelites paid 3 tithes in the OT. Their total giving was close to 25% not 10%.

"3,000 familes tithe and it equates to 1,500,000 Take the 1,500,000 and divide by the number of families giving you the average per family rate of $500. Now, multiply this by 10 to give the pastor what he would earn if he were at a church consisting of 10 people. (10% times 10 families = a full salary) In this case, the pastor would earn $5,000 a month."

Of course your logical flaw here is that 95% of church members don't give 10%. The last Barna survey estimated giving at around 3%.

The math is wrong along with the assumption that paying an "elder" less than the average church attender is a sin.

"NOW, this is the MINIMUM salary for the pastor."

Please provide a scripture reference for your claim (the fact that you can't do the math correctly leads me to believe that this is an unsubstantiated claim as well).

"Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double pay, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching."

Elders were not paid in money at the time this verse was written.

"You could bump that pay up to $10,000 a month, or $100,000 a year. But I wouldn't think you should make more than the doubled amount."

It is harder for a rich man to go to heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think you can have it bought ways!!"

That's funny coming from a TROLL that is now arguing both sides with capital letters and exclamation points.

Anonymous said...

"Take a peek at Smyrl's latest tweet."

That is fine for now but it won't stay like that once he can be supported by membership which is fine also.

A large city like Jacksonville has very, very few bivoc pastors.

Anonymous said...

In a church where people give tithes and offerings to support the budget, mission, salaries and other items, how much is too much for a pastor to be paid? How much is to little?

Anonymous said...

"In a church where people give tithes and offerings to support the budget, mission, salaries and other items, how much is too much for a pastor to be paid? How much is to little?"

The question is moot. Most churches won't tell you what they are paying the pastor (or other expenses for that matter).

William Thornton said...

The anonymous commenter's calculation of salary is one of the more ridiculous things I have seen on clergy pay.

I don't think tithing, or preaching tithing, would be a problem in any church where the leadership is open and transparent about finances, including staff compensation.

Absent that, any stewardship approach is flawed.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:56 obviously you never attended FBCJ.. I know for a fact Dr. Lyndsay did not make over 6 figures. Get your facts straight!

Anon 3:57 my spelling of Lynsday doesn't take away from the point.

The current pastor at FBCJ is paid too much!

Geesh, go away TROLL!

Anonymous said...

"Anon 3:56 obviously you never attended FBCJ.. I know for a fact Dr. Lyndsay did not make over 6 figures. Get your facts straight!"

My facts are straight as I was on the finance committee-TROLL!!!

WishIhadknown said...

"Folks, do you realize that our Salaries at FBCJAX are well over 2 million dollars a year."

Does that salary figure include housing and any other allowances which are normally about a third or more of the ministers' w-2 income?

Anonymous said...

Smyrl is playing a little game of acting humble. I wonder how long it will be before he publishes exactly how much he makes, where he makes, and all the hidden perks he receives. That seems to be what some of you want from Brunson and all pastors in America.

Remember there are basically two ways that Baptist churches do it. One is to publish every detail of every penny that is spent. The other is to be governed by committees that set salaries and view the spending after being authorized by the church body.

My suggestion would be to find out where the churches are that do it the way you like and then join it.

How the church down the street conducts their business is none of my concern or business. I joined the kind of church I like. I wish some of you complainers would do the same.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

William - when you say teaching tithing wouldn't be a problem...remember that what we're really criticizing here is the "storehouse tithing" doctrine that says a Christian must give 10% minimum to their church, on the gross, undesignated, else they and their money are under the curse of God, and to redeem their money from the curse they must give 10%. It is being taught also that if you don't give the 10%, God will take it anyways through any manner of calamity, thus why not give it before God takes it.

I trust that you don't subscribe to this nonsense. That is what we're talking about here. It is what is being taught by many evangelical mega church pastors, even Southern Baptists.

Long Time FBC Jax Member said...

Slightly off topic...

Loyal Heart Bible Church is off to a great start !! God is good all the time, and greatly to be praised !!

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church has its share of problems, but pounding people for a tithe isn't one of them.

The nuns and priests certainly don't go into it for the money either. They get paid. They just aren't driving around in Jaguars or Mercedes, now are they?

Clearly, the storehouse tithes are going to salaries -- staff and all their family members and friends.

The biggest expense of a large business is its salaries. And these churches are just that -- businesses. Tax-free ones,too.

I also agree with the point that if you're going to demand 10 percent then tell people where the money's going. My guess is tithes would go way down if they ever found out just how much is spent on salaries.

Just try to talk to someone on staff at these churches. The only ones ever at work at the support staff, lol

Anonymous said...

"NOW, this is the MINIMUM salary for the pastor. But since "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double pay, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching."

Sheesh! The ignorance is astounding!

It is "DOUBLE HONOR". Not double pay.

Anonymous said...

'The question is moot. Most churches won't tell you what they are paying the pastor (or other expenses for that matter).'

I don't think so. There has been a complaint about mega pastors making too much, so how much is too much? The complaint about a pastors salary is not one dependent upon a budget but a statement being made without any idea of how much a pastor is making.

How can one complain about the amount of a salary but not give an amount which is too much?

Is there an answer or not? Do you want to complain without setting the standard which determines what is right or wrong? Why the choice to avoid?

John said...

I pastor a small Baptist church in Alabama. The church pays me $500 a week, which is usually about 1/3 of the total collections on an average Sunday. Any member or visitor can attend business meeting on the 3rd Wednesday night of each month and receive a copy of the church's monthly financial report which contains all of this information. Why is this so difficult for larger churches to do?

Anonymous said...

Even the "Christian" Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, doesn't believe in tithing

"From 2000, when Perry became governor, through 2009, he earned a total of $2.68 million,
according to his tax records. Of that amount, he gave about half a percent to churches
and religious organizations, or $14,243."


saying

"tithing is only one aspect of a person's faith, and the personal decision of each family."

WOW

Maybe that is why things are so bad in Texas that they need a
PRAYER Meeting

Anonymous said...

can I purchase this book at Lifeway stores?

Anonymous said...

Just noticed that Stand to Reason posted a short video on tithing the other day on their blog.

I couldn't agree more with what Greg Koukl teaches on this subject.

Here is the link;
http://str.convio.net/site/PageServer?pagename=blog_iframe

Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Jared said...

The number one issue talked about in the bible is money. So i don't think i'm exaggerating by saying the number one issue the church deals with is a money issue - tithing. If tithing and cash flow do not influence the Church in a bad way, then God wasted a lot of time warning us about it. It's no coincidence that tithing is one of the only laws that is universally accepted across major denominations. if were dealing with any other old testament law that didn't control cash flow, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

- jared