Saturday, 25 January 2014

Tithing and Double Righteousness? Saved by grace through faith unto good works

I like to look at all sorts of videos on YouTube.  Some are very helpful and others clearly are not, but I get to see wonderful images, lovely landscapes and fabulous photography. I hear wise words and see crass comments.

I came across these comments by Robert Skynner on a YouTube video featuring Pastor E.A. Adeboye:
To tithe today is blasphemy, as that would deny the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone and make salvation mostly grace but partly also works (paying the tithe).
This statement should be challenged and refuted.

First of all, to tithe should not be considered blasphemy. And we must define blasphemy before we proceed. According to the Oxford dictionaries,  the definition of blasphemy in English is the action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.

I have found ten passages in the New Testament where the term blasphemy βλασφημια
 or blasphemies βλασφημιαι is used:
Matt. 12:31, 26:65, Mark 3:28, 7:22. 14:64, Luke 5:21, John 10:31-36, Acts 6:11-13, Colossians 3:8, and Revelation 13:5-6.

Mark 3:28 is a good example.
αμην λεγω υμιν οτι παντα αφεθησεται τοις υιοις των ανθρωπων τα αμαρτηματα και αι βλασφημιαι οσα εαν βλασφημησωσιν
I tell you in truth, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men and whatever blasphemies they utter. 

After reading through these passages it seems completely wrong to apply the word blasphemy to the act of tithing. How can an act of generosity, arguably an act of worship, be construed by man or God as blasphemous? What is meant by tithing? And why should it be seen in such a bad light?  The above comment by Robert Skynner (RS) raises such questions.

We ought to have a good understanding of what it means to tithe. In Oxford dictionaries the word tithe in English is: one tenth of annual produce or earnings, formerly taken as a tax for the support of the Church and clergy.

To tithe for many Christians today means to set aside a tenth of their income to support the Church, assembly, evangelistic enterprise, ministry or some such Christian cause. It may be paid directly to one institution or to many churches or para-church organizations. Some give to missionaries, mission funds and ministers. Some churches put pressure on members to tithe, and these churches often expect all the tithe to go directly to the local church,  which means them!  RS, based on various videos, has obviously seen coercion on people to give more and show a greater financial commitment to the church or ministry. In some cases the flock have been fleeced by ravenous wolves, hirelings and greedy shepherds who have fed only themselves and made themselves fat by the hard work of others, living as parasites. They are pseudo pastors, who have neglected or harmed God's flock.  I have not come across them in Baptist churches in my area, but RS has evidently had some bad experiences.

The practice of tithing may have been abused and misused to gain money etc., but that does not mean we should condemn earnest and honest Christians who seek to see the Gospel preached and God's work maintained through tithing and disciplined giving. To accuse such Christians of blasphemy is wrong. There is no justification for it, especially when they are seeking to live obediently and sacrificially for Christ and His Kingdom.

To be continued.

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