Archive for the ‘Tithing’ Category

Tithing Comment #7

Posted: June 7, 2010 in Commentary, Tithing

A teacher or fellow believer who believes that God commands the performance of tithing has no possible leave to say something like “if you don’t want to tithe, don’t.” He may be a Pharasaical jackass* to start with about this by even uttering this (or he may not be .. there are people who don’t want to either tithe or give) – the point is that such a man is either you about God commanding you to tithe or you about his authority to grant dispensation. He has a consistency problem.

*Because it is essentially an accusation against a man’s character. To categorize people with questions about tithing as categorically people with character faults (i.e. not wanting to tithe) is categorically sinful.

Teachers and speakers who associate God’s saving grace – i.e. “salvation” — with the performance of ritual tithing are engaging in heresy in respect to this aspect of Christian thinking. Period. Think I’m barking up the wrong tree? We have this lady, whose book publishing rights are owned by Strang Publishing (publisher of Charisma, among other product lines), who claims to have seen in a “vision” that non-tithing Christians do not go to heaven (who is running the editorial desk at Strang? Accountants?) and Ted Haggard, who was comfortable challenging the salvation of non tithing believers.

Can you find anything in this essay about whether you should, or must, tithe, or not? No, you cannot.

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.

Have you ever in your entire life seen a sign in front of a church that said something like “non tithers welcome to visit” or “non tithers welcome to attend”?

Just a thought. And a question.

This is a penis being mutilated.

Ever had your penis inspected in church?

What is a penis doing in commentary about “tithing teaching?” It’s a pointed visual reminder that ritual genital mutilation — along with ritual sabbath observance — pre-dated the Law of Moses.

Singlextianman is aware of a pastor or two who would have him believe — based on their considerations of an account of Abraham’s actions towards Malchizedek (pre-dating the giving of the Law) — that this, along with a passage in Malachi, inexorably leads us to conclude that God has always commanded, under penalty of a curse for non-performance, ritual giving from His people.*

I remind you that what we find in the Old Testament is given for our benefit. The mandatory Sabbath Rest of the Old Testament is a pointer; an archeotype and shadow, of the rest we may enjoy. Circumcision likewise is a symbol and a pointer to the idea that it matters to the community, and to your life with God, what you do with your penis. The mutilation of the design takes away in a small measure from a man’s sexual pleasure, as the nerve endings in the tissue must become desensitized as the flesh adapts to its unnatural condition.

All this being said, we do not inspect men’s penises in church, do we? However, whole denominations have been formed because of disputation about what day of the week to gather in worship. And one can certainly be on the “wrong” side of the question of ritual giving in many fellowships.

…What you do with your money matters. It matters to your community, and it matters to your life with God. I have not fully commented on “tithing” as I lack certain insights that I am still seeking from diverse individuals, who get all testy when I am pressing them for coherent and consistent answers. However, I am comfortable with speaking to a certain narrow aspect of the discussion about “tithing” — and here it is:

In my dogmatic opinion, if you dogmatically think and teach that a non-ritual giver is of necessity “cursed” by God because he is not doing the ritual, you are making a dick of yourself and mutilating your understanding.

..Even if you do persist in thinking this, you have no biblical permission to act towards your brother as if he is cursed. Even if all he has done is ask you what you think about this, you may not do this without our common Father noticing your behaviour.

*In great irony, Malachi is addressing the priests who are under a curse, not the people.