Tithing Comment #9: definitions

Posted: May 24, 2010 in Commentary, Tithing

I was told by a minister at that time associated with a Vineyard church that “tithing is giving and giving is tithing.” This same individual had been comfortable saying from the pulpit that people were making “excuses” when they were reasoning within themselves about this issue (and coming to other conclusions than I suppose he wanted them to); and in person was able to “suggest” to me that I go elsewhere after giving me a condescending lecture about the need to pay for the various things. While I did not get the answers to my questions about tithing, I did get the message*.

This man was, in a way, making “excuses” — and I found a bit more freedom in my life when I realized that I was not the one making “excuses.”

Now, there is nothing in this posting to give one any insight about tithing, is there? If you think there is, you are mistaken. No answers to my questions here, either.

The point: Cognitive dissonance can be at play in any kind of high-emotional-content matter. He was employing cognitive dissonance (tithing is giving and giving is tithing) because, apparently, this was the only way for him to resolve some inner disputation he was having with himself. We can only guess at what that was; but he has declined to speak about the matter further with me. When trying to talk with his senior pastoral authority or the regional overseer for the denomination, the subject was not addressed; the conversations went “sideways” away from this. More cognitive dissonance? I don’t have enough data. They would have to sit still for 90 seconds or so and turn their accusers off, as well as their instinct, apparently, to see and hear what they want to be seeing and hearing. You should do the same if you wish to avoid cognitive dissonance in your life about any matter.

The remarkable thing is how easy it is to stand up in front of your fellow believer (be that in a blog, a pulpit, a small group, whatever) and do this to yourself and to others.

I would like to affirm to you that “giving” and “tithing” in the lexicon of the post 1850’s non state sponsored churches are in fact separate words with separate meanings. For the man who is the subject of my thoughts today, he was comfortable with one definition from the pulpit and had to move to another definition when in private conversation where he lacked the freedom or the standing to frame the matter as he saw fit.

Related posting: #10

*It so happens this man asked that I do not consider him to be speaking for the Vineyard, and he self-acknowledgedly could not explain things in official Vineyard literature about tithing. So don’t think of this essay, please, as describing the Vineyard movement’s thoughts on the matter.

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