"If Jesus required the tithe of those who lived in the darkness before the cross, what do you think he expects of those who live in the blinding light after the cross? So, OK, it's Old Testament; New Testament calls for a lot more. PONY UP!" Frank Page preaching at SWBTS 3/21/12Preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel last week, Dr. Frank Page - the head of the SBC Executive Committee and arguably the most powerful man in the SBC - declared that Jesus himself expects Christians to give MORE than a tithe since they are under grace, and he summed up Jesus' expectation in two words:
Where in scripture did Page find Jesus' expectation of Christians to "pony up"? Well, Page used Jesus' words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23, and he uses that to extend the Old Testament requirement to tithe to an "expectation" of Jesus!!
Page conveniently left out of his quote of Matthew 23:23 the important part that Jesus was speaking directly to the Pharisees, not to his followers! To interpret Jesus' remarks to the Pharisees who were, and wanted to live under the law, as a statement of his expectations for Christians, is just flat out a misuse of scripture. For an excellent layman's discussion on how Mat 23:23 is commonly misused by preachers today to say that Jesus commanded tithing, read this excellent article by the writer at the Church Stewardship and Tithing Report website.
This term "Pony Up" is interesting...it is slang for "fork it over", sometimes used as slang to tell someone to begrudgingly hand over money that is owed, to hand over one's fair share of what they are obligated to pay based on services rendered. Hardly an expression to be used to tell Christians that they should give freely and generously and not under compulsion.
Perhaps this implication that Jesus wants us to "pony up" is really not the most disgusting part of the Page sermon.
Page's sermon was not on tithing or on Matthew 23:23. Instead, Page was preaching about the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14. In that passage, Jesus tells the story of the tax collector and the Pharisee praying in the temple. Jesus draws a contrast between the prideful Pharisee who prays about how he gives a tenth of his income, while the tax collector was crying out to God for mercy. About them, Jesus says: "I tell you that this man [the tax collector], rather than the other [the Pharisee], went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
So what does Page do? After he tells Christians to "pony up", he then declares how he himself is a tither, "and more". Like the Pharisee in the temple from Page's own sermon, Page beats his chest in the SWBTS temple of how generous HE is because he tithes! Jesus had to get a hearty chuckle in the irony of this. And I wonder if Page's standard is the partial OT tithe of 10%, or the full tithe of 23 1/3%. If Jesus expected 23 1/3% in the Old Testament, wouldn't he want Page to pony up more than 23 1/3%?
Lastly, I can't help but point out the last bit of irony in Page's comments on tithing. In the video you'll see that Page brags about how his tithing records are open for inspection by his church members, and he makes a point that giving records should NOT be confidential.
How ironic that Frank Page, the head of the SBC Executive Committee, is advocating for the transparency of tithing records of pastors, but the SBC can't even advocate for the establishment of a database to provide transparency on convicted sexual offenders amongst the ranks of SBC pastors?
Seems to me Frank Page is more concerned about transparency of the non-tithing SBC pastors than being transparent about the sexual predator pastors in the ranks of the SBC.