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Tithing in the Age of Grace Paperback – July 6, 2006
About the Author
Joel Parker and his wife Jana have been married seventeen years. The Parkers have four children who are home schooled. Joel has been a Christian for eighteen years and enjoys searching the scriptures and studying church history. Joel and his family attend a non-denominational church in Appleton, Wisconsin that places great emphasis on the importance of studying the Bible book by book. Joel's wife Jana stays home with the children while he makes his living as an electrician. Tithing in the Age of Grace is Joel's first book.
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Top customer reviews
Tithing is a divisive theme in many churches. Christians use tithing as a spiritual measuring stick. If Christians tithe, then they are doing God's will, if not, then they have God's promised curse on them. However, the reality is that there are Christians that tithe and are broke while others do not tithe and are living comfortable. For pro-tithe Christians this is hard to accept so their defense is that those that tithe and are broke is because they do not know how to handle their finances while those who do not tithe and are living comfortable are riding on God's surfing board of mercy and that eventually a curse will come.
The issue with tithing, and any other biblical theme, is that many Christians do not pray and do not have the quiet time of reading, studying, and of meditating on the Holy Scriptures. I find it harder by the years to meet a Christian that is consistent and diligent in the study of the Bible, which they believe to be the Word of God. What good does it do to Christians to believe the Bible to be the Word of the True God and not reading it? They are in no better position than the demons, which also believe the Scriptures to be God's Word.
In his introduction, the author made the following statement: "Most Christians today teach that their members should be giving ten percent of their gross income to their church, regardless of their financial situation. Christians are taught that tithing is commanded in the Bible." The confusion over tithing is the result of Christians failing to search the Scriptures for the veracity of the preaching and teaching they receive on this topic from their Christian leaders. For many Christian, tithing is a settled issue so they do not bother to research it or question it. Add to this the fact that many Christian leaders do not teach other Christians how to handle correctly the Word of Truth. Therefore, Christians are ignorant about the riches that come from the proper use of biblical interpretation. For the most part, Christians cannot contend for the faith, much less contending whether tithing is valid under the New Covenant. The phrase "This is what I believe!" does not cut it anymore. If we are going to defend what we believe, we must prepare ourselves a lot better to present the case for our beliefs. As Christians, we must take "the time to learn exactly what the Bible says about tithing."
I do understand and accept that many who will read this review will look for the small details to refute my point against tithing. However, Christians and non-Christians, we all have a hard time accepting truth. If you disagree with my position against tithing under the New Covenant, make sure you have exhausted yourself studying the subject well. Even if you are not convinced, you will end up a better student as you search the Scriptures.
I am on a crusade to let other Christians know they do not have to tithe. The New Covenant is a better one than the Old Covenant is. If the Bible is true, I believe it is, then, as co-heirs with Christ, every blessing from the Father to Christ is also for Christians. We do not need to pay tithes to receive God's blessings as some false preachers and teachers propose consciously and as some ignorant preachers and teachers propose unconsciously.
Part One - Tithing in the Old Testament
To handle properly any theme in the Bible, one must know what the Bible says about it and what it means when it says what it says about that theme. "To understand any principle, biblical or otherwise, a person must first determine what is meant when speaking of that principle." Concerning any principle, it will function for anyone regardless of his or her belief; it does not matter whether such person believes in God or not. The word "principle" is synonym of the word "law". The following laws apply to anyone: 1) the Law of Gravity, and 2) the Law of Sowing and Reaping in Galatians 6:7. The tithing principle practiced today is not "the same tithing as is practiced in the Bible."
Chapter One: Tithing prior to the Law
The following logic is faulty: "The Bible mentions tithing prior to the Law, therefore, since it precedes the Law, then it is an eternal principle that carries over to the New Covenant." Having in mind what the Bible says and what it means when it says what it says about any subject, let us look at the two examples mentioned in the Bible concerning the practice of tithing.
Abram - Genesis 14:1-24 & Hebrews 7:1-28
Here is the story of Abram going to war and giving a tenth (the tithe) of the spoils of war to the king of Salem, Melchizedek. The spoils of war did not belong to Abram; he just took it from other people. The tithe he gave did not come from the increase of his wealth. The Bible never states that Abram ever tithed again. In the Book of Hebrews, reading in context, we can see that the author of this book is making the case that Jesus Christ's priesthood was superior to the priesthood of Melchizedek - tithing is not the central issue, but the priesthood of Jesus. "The author of Hebrews simply uses the example of the tithe to illustrate that superiority." Hebrews 7:8 in the NKJV reads, "Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives." Many proponents of tithing are obsessed with the word "here" believing that the author of Hebrews is using the word "here" to mean that around that time the author was writing Hebrews there were still Levites receiving the tithes before the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. That is really violating the meaning of the text.
Jacob - Genesis 28:20-22
Tithing proponents sacrificed this sacred cow at their altar because they do not mention it when preaching tithing. Here, Jacob made a vow to God, which God did not request or required, after God made Jacob a promise found in Genesis 28:15. It reads, "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you." Jacob, somehow found the necessity to make a vow following God's promise for him. However, Jacob's promise to tithe was conditional upon God being with him, on God's keeping him, on God's provision of food and clothing, and on returning to Jacob's household in peace. When was the last time you heard a pro-tithing preacher or teacher advocating for conditional tithing?
Chapter Two: The Command to Tithe in the Law
The author made a good case as he presented the "primarily six passages" that exist "in the Old Testament that explain to us what was to be tithed as well as when it was tithed and what was done with the tithe." I will just mention the six passages for you to look over.
1) Leviticus 25:1-22
2) Leviticus 27:30-34
3) Numbers 18:20-28
4) Deuteronomy 12:1, 5-19
5) Deuteronomy 14:22-29
6) Deuteronomy 26:12 & 13
Chapter Three: Three Tithes or One and the Sabbath Rest
"The idea that there were three separate tithes comes from reading Numbers 18:20-28 along with Deuteronomy 14:22-29 and Deuteronomy 26:12-13."
The First Tithe - Numbers 18:20-28
The author makes the case that the tithes were connected with the Levitical priesthood. Since the Levitical priesthood was abolished under the New Covenant, then tithing, which is connected with the Levitical priesthood, it is also abolished. The High Priest received a tenth of the tenth from the Levites' tithes they received from the people of Israel from the fruit of the land or from the herds, never money though money existed. If "a pastor of a church wants to follow the Old Testament example of tithing, then that pastor should receive one percent of the tithes for his and his families sustenance." However, pro-tithing churches do not follow through with the whole teaching of tithing as outlined in the Old Testament.
The Second Tithe - Deuteronomy 12:1, 5-19 & 14:22-29
Pro-tithing church leaders overlook this tithe because they will certainly not tell their congregation to eat their tithes at the local restaurant. Here the Lord commands His people to "eat before the Lord in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, that is, Jerusalem." When was the last time a pastor told his congregation to eat their tithes?
The Third Tithe - Deuteronomy 14:28 & 29
Here we have the tithe that was collected "for distribution to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow." "The purpose of this tithe was welfare, plain and simple." The Western Church generally lives for itself by building mega church buildings, with the senior pastor as the CEO getting a hefty salary, while the community in which the church lives perishes for lack of spiritual food and unmet material needs. According to the math the author exercised, "if there were two tithes collected every year..., that would amount to twenty percent of a farmer's gross yearly income." "If there were three tithes that were collected..., that would amount to twenty-three percent and one-third percent of a farmer's gross yearly income." Either way, tithing in the 21st century in the church, does not follow either pattern for two tithes or three tithes. Though Israel used money, the people of Israel did not tithe from their money; it was always from the land or the herd.
Chapter Four: Did Everyone in the Old Testament Tithe?
In today's Western Churches, pro-tithing leaders preach and teach that everyone has to give their tithes. If no one in the church is tithing, then everyone is robbing God. We have to go to the Bible and actually look and examine what the Bible says about it. The position that every member of the church has to tithe does not hold any weight in light of the teachings of tithing in the Bible.
It seems that the tithe consisted of food such as produce or animals. Since the tithe supported the Levites, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widows, we can assume they did not tithe from their land or herds. The Bible clearly states that the Levites did not own land. What they tithed was from the tithes of the people of Israel from the fruits of their produce and/or from their herds. When Joseph and Mary went to the temple after Jesus was born, they brought two turtledoves for the prescribed sacrifice according to the Law of Moses for those that were poor and could not afford more. Joseph was a carpenter, so he could not have given the tithe for the tithe was always food and never money, even when money was used since the time of Moses.
Chapter Five: Redeeming the Tithe
There is no doubt that the churches today are not abiding correctly to the Bible teaching on tithing. In Leviticus 27:30 & 31, the Bible teaches very clearly that people could have redeemed their tithes. What they needed to do was to add 20 percent to the monetary value of their tithes. The priest was the one who set the monetary value of the tithes people wanted to redeem.
There are two major problems with today's practice of tithing.
1) How will pro-tithing individuals intelligibly explain redeeming money in light of the fact that items that the Israelites gave as tithes could be redeemed?
2) If the redeeming feature of tithes is not longer in effect, then they "need to explain scripturally when this portion of tithing law went out of effect and why."
Chapter Six: The Book of Malachi
This is the Sacred Cow Scripture passage for pro-tithing individuals; this is the irrefutable evidence that Christians must give their tithes today. I am just being sarcastic because this is probably the most misquoted Scripture to advocate for tithing.
"When taken out of its proper context, this verse [Malachi 3:10] has been used very successfully by many churches, especially by churches within the `Word of Faith' movement to extract money from their congregations."
I have never met any Christian that God has blessed so much that he could not contain the blessings God promised to Israel in Malachi 3 because he tithed. The promise of the blessing is for the nation, not an individual. All the blessings we have are due to God's grace, not tithing.
For the record, "Tithes were never meant to be money, only food items. You can search the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation and you will find, as I did, that tithing money is totally and completely unscriptural."
Chapter Seven: Tithing in the Gospels
Christians must read/view/study Matthew 23:23 in light of Galatians 4:4-5. It says, "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." Jesus had to be pro-tithes because He was under the Law. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus addresses the issue of tithing to the hypocrites religious nuts of His days on earth. The New Covenant did not take effect until Jesus' death and resurrection. Look at Hebrews 9:15-17. It states, "For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives."
Please, understand that giving is part of the New Covenant as well as fasting and praying. Do not think I am against giving; I am against tithing as a requirement. If tithing is better for you in managing your God-given resources, by all means, then tithe.
Chapter Eight: Tithing in the Book of Acts
If tithing was a given, as many Christians believe, then, why did the Christians of the 1st century not tithe? What they did was to share what they had with others so others might benefit from their sacrificial giving, not their tithes. By the way, they gave because they were willing to give, not because it was compulsory or a commandment.
Chapter Nine: The New Covenant of Grace
Many Christians think that, under the New Covenant, there is much more leniency in giving. It is actually the opposite; Jesus raised the level of commitment in giving, praying, and fasting. It is a Covenant of grace that demands, requires, if you will, a higher level of commitment. There are no lukewarm Christians. Therefore, you are either a Christian or you are lost. Lukewarm individuals and the heathen go to the same hell, if they do not repent.
In God's eyes, Christians are priests unto Him who saved us all. The Old Testament Priesthood depended on the tithes for support. We, under the New Covenant Priesthood, are all priests unto God having but One High Priest, Jesus Christ. Pastors or any other Christian leaders are not high priests as under the Old Covenant; they are fellow priests unto the same Lord and Savior.
Chapter Ten: Guidelines for Giving
The Apostle Paul, who knew the Law very well, did not advocate for tithing. Why should we then advocate for it? He said in 2 Corinthians 9:7, "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." One's purpose in giving is according to his heart not compulsory as it was under the Old Covenant.
Jesus left us His Holy Spirit as our teacher. He will guide us in all spiritual matters, even giving. He is the best guide in giving us guidelines for giving. Let us trust His leading, He will never require from us to do things He knows we cannot do. Give according to His leading and God will richly bless you. Do not let anyone force you to give and do not feel down because you could not give. When God has our hearts, he will have our wallets and purses.
The book demonstrates that there are several passages in scripture that are seldom, if ever, dealt with in the modern church. For instance, scriptures dealing with "redeeming" the tithe, eating the tithe and having a party with the tithe (never hear that taught today), where the tithes were brought, for whom, and for what reason the tithes were collected.
The author discusses the scriptures which deal with the tithing ritual and command and shows how using them and applying them to a New Testament believer presents all kinds of problems because it is a misapplication to do so.
The author appears to be a former "Word of faith" individual and although he has friends and knows pastors that are still devoted to word/faith teachings, he takes a strident tone with word/faith teachers accusing them of "begging" for money and tithes.
I would not go so far as to say that the ministers whom he mentions "beg" for money per se, but he does make his point about the emphasis on tithing which is prevelant in the church--both brick and mortar and electronic.
A good solid book on a major issue in the body of Christ today and highly recommended.
Especially with all of the importance that is put on church revenue, which after head-count, is the second most sacred object.(Mk 12.38-40)
Don't be cow-towed by a golden calf.
Know the subject yourself.