Personal Conclusions On Biblical Giving and Tithing

April 20th, 2009

Without references, here are my conclusions on the Bible’s teaching on giving and tithing.

The Bible teaches us that:

  • Christians should regard everything they have as being owned by God.
  • Christians should give generously, sacrificially, cheerfully, and as God leads them to give.
  • The Old Testament tithe was of agricultural products only. (Those who made a living through commerce did not tithe on the portion of their income that came from commerce.)
  • In Old Testament times, the largest portion of an individual’s tithe was not given to the priests or the temple.
  • The largest portion of the tithe was consumed by the person giving the tithe (and his family) and/or was given to the poor and needy.

Historical writings teach us that:

  • The Pharisees believed that a tithe should be made against all forms of income, not just agricultural income.
  • The tithe was not a part of the early church.
  • The tithe was implemented by the church sometime around the third century to support the church’s infrastructure and building programs.

Summary Conclusions

  • The Bible does not teach that Christians should tithe.
  • It is wrong to say that the Bible teaches that Christians should give 10 percent of their gross income to their local church.
  • God wants to be in control of our finances, just like He wants to be in control of every facet of our life.
  • For any given Christian it may be right or it may be wrong to tithe.  It depends on what God wants them to do with His money.
  • It is wrong to say that not to tithe is the same as robbing God.

In the next few posts, I’ll restate my conclusions and give references in support of each conclusion.

Online Resources on Biblical Giving and Tithing

April 19th, 2009

It’s been quite a while since my last post but in the interim I’ve finished my Bible study of tithing and giving.  I’ve decided not to go into the details of the study because I found several good resources on the Web that do a much better job than I ever could in covering the Bible’s teaching on tithing and giving.  In this post, I’m going to list the Web resources and in my next post I’ll tell you what I’ve concluded as a result of my study.  If you want to study tithing in detail, I encourage you to check out the listed resources for yourself.

Note: this article is in response to the common belief among Christians that the Bible teaches that Christians should give 10 percent of their gross income to the local church (a practice commonly referred to as tithing). For many years I thought the Bible taught the tithe.  It was only recently, after studying the issue in depth, that I became convinced otherwise.

Resources on Tithing and Giving

1.  Will a Man Rob God
Andreas J. Kostenberger and David Croteau, Southeastern Baptist Seminary

2.  Reconstructing a Biblical Model for Giving
Andreas J. Kostenberger and David Croteau, Southeastern Baptist Seminary

These two articles by Southern Baptists Andreas Kostenberger and David Croteau are the most scholarly, yet readable material I could find.  Highly recommended.

3.  Tithing: Is It New Testament
Elliot Miller, Christian Research Institute
This article by the editor-in-chief of the Christian Research Journal was on the CRI web site when I began my research, but seems to have been removed from the CRI website since then.  A copy of the article is here:

4.  Set Free To Give (Online Book)
Brent J. MacDonald
This is a fairly complete treatment of the Bible’s teaching on tithing and giving with excellent historical information included.

5.  Should the Church Teach Tithing
Russ Kelly’s web site is the most complete compendium of information on tithing I could find.  Unfortunately, Russ can be very strident on the topic of the tithe.  (I suspect Russ is extremely frustrated with the South Baptist Convention’s refusal to re-examine the case against tithing.)  Sadly, Russ can be so strident that you may be tempted to dismiss what he has to say.  There’s a lot of good information here if you can filter out the emotional heat.

6. Toward the Tithe and Beyond
John Piper

A respected pastor and Christian author explains why he believes Christians should tithe.

In my next post, I’ll summarize my conclusions on giving and tithing.

The Old Testament Tithe

March 2nd, 2009

What is the tithe? Some Christians use the word tithe as if it means little more than a regular offering.   Bono (lead singer for U2) used the word tithe in this fashion when he spoke at the 2006 National Prayer breakfast.  Bono said, “I was amazed when I first got to America and I learned how much some church-goers tithe.   Some tithe up to ten percent of the family budget.”

Strictly speaking, a tithe is always 10 percent.  According to Easton’s Online Bible Dictionary a tithe was “a tenth of the produce of the earth consecrated and set apart for special purposes.”

Some Christians believe the Bible teaches that we (Christians) should give 10 percent of our income to the local church and they refer to this practice as tithing.   Does the Bible teach that Christians should tithe? That’s one of the questions I’ll try to answer in the next few months.

Beginning an Examination of Biblical Patterns of Giving

February 25th, 2009

I’m rereading the book “Set Free to Give” with the other deacons and pastor in my church.  Reading the book is part of our process of studying what the Bible really teaches about tithing, offering, and giving.

Between now and April I’ll be posting articles on this topic.  In regards to the book “Set Free to Give” I’ll be writing about the facts, interpretation, logic, and conclusions of the author, (Brent J. MacDonald), and any questions his book has raised in my mind.

The book is available as a PDF file and can be downloaded from the author’s web site for the very reasonable price of $5. Clearly Brent isn’t trying to make a lot of money from the book because the $5 entitles you to give one copy of the PDF to someone else and Brent has posted the full text of the book on his web site, allowing you to read it without spending a cent.

I have to mention that some parts of “Set Free to Give” seem somewhat strident  (perhaps reflecting the author’s frustration at the evangelical community’s lack of reasoned response to many of issues he has raised). When I read those sections of the book I have to make a conscious effort not to let the strident tone interfere with my understanding. it’s better to order over the phone.

February 24th, 2009

On Sunday, I ordered a set of scope rings for a hunting rifle from only to discover today (Monday) that Bushmaster doesn’t process Sunday Web orders until Tuesday!

The customer service representative politely informed me that you’re usually better off to order over the phone on Monday instead of ordering from the web on Sunday.

Strange. Very Strange.

A Fever for Flashlights Part 2: Tactical Flashlights

January 31st, 2009

What is a tactical flashlight?  My definition of a tactical flashlight is a small, lightweight flashlight with an intensely bright light that can be used to startle, disorient, and control anyone on the receiving end, and is tough enough to survive hard use in potentially dangerous situations.  Wikipedia’s article on tactical flashlights has lots of good information worth reading.

I believe the original tactical flash was the Surefire 6P. I bought a 6P at a Dallas gun show many years ago and never regretted it.  At the time there was nothing else that provided such an intense beam of light in a small package. The 6P is still being manufactured and it is still a good flashlight, but I can’t recommend it unless you don’t mind paying too much money for too little flashlight.  The LED version, the Surefire 6PL might be OK, but to my mind, it also seems to be a bit too expensive for what you get.

I haven’t purchased any real “tactical” lights since getting my Surefire 6P, so I can’t recommend any from personal experience, but there are many places on the web you can go for more information. Here are three sites worth checking out.

  2. Lights For Law Enforcement

Unfortunately, hasn’t been updated since  June 2007 so it’s usefulness is going to decrease with time.

Instead of buying expensive tactical lights, I’ve been collecting less expensive LED flashlights can can serve the typical householder in a tactical role.  I’ll review several of those in my next post.

A Fever for Flashlights

January 28th, 2009

I have a fever for flashlights.  The fever started 25 years ago when I bought my first Mini-MAGLITE, it jumped a couple of degrees a few years later when I got a high-intensity police flashlight (a Streamlight SL-20X Halogen) and it began to rage out of control when I saw my first quality LED flashlight.

The LED (Light Emitting Diode) is the best thing to happen to flashlights ever.  LEDs have many advantages over other types of flashlight bulbs. LEDs are almost unbreakable, they are much more efficient in their use of battery power (more light for less power, so batteries last longer with LEDs), and they can deliver almost as much light for lower cost.

Every home, every car, and every keyring should have a good quality LED flashlight.  Here are some flashlights I have used and can personally recommend:

A friend has asked me to recommend a flashlight for home/tactical use, so I’ll be writing more on flashlights in the days to come.

Experiential Knowledge: Our Greatest Need

January 25th, 2009

I’m teaching an adult Sunday school class on growing in spiritual maturity.  I was eager to teach the class for several reasons, not the least of which was because I hoped that by preparing to teach on spiritual maturity I myself would grow greatly.  I’ve been a Christian for about 28 years and most of my Christian life has been spent as an spiritual baby, with some years spent in outright rebellion to God.

A few years ago, when I turned fifty, I realized it was long past time for me to change.  Now I yearn to live the Christian life that Jesus calls us to live.  It seems somewhat ironic to me that Watchman Nee refers to the life I want to live as “the normal Christian life.”

On page 56 of Watchman’s book The Normal Christian Life  he said “Our first step is to seek from God a knowledge that comes by revelation–a revelation, that is to say, not of ourselves but of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross.” 

This type of knowledge can only come by the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the type of knowledge that Paul is referring to in Ephesians 1:16-19.

Ephesians 1:16-19 (ESV) I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe,

Watchman Nee, A.W. Tozer, and Andrew Murray all write about this kind of knowledge in a way that makes me want to experience it, too. The question is, do I want it more than anything else in life?

A Convenient Way to Brew Loose Leaf Tea

January 15th, 2009

I love coffee (in my opinion, there’s no coffee better than fresh ground Gevalia), but when I drink too much coffee in one day my stomach complains and I suffer from foot cramps in the evening. For that reason, I decided to switch to drinking tea in the middle of the day instead of coffee.

For black tea I like Red Rose Orange Pekoe. Red Rose used to be made and distributed by a Canadian Company, but a few years ago Lipton started distributing Red Rose. Quality was down the first year Lipton marketed Red Rose, but quality appears to be good again. Newman’s Own Organics Royal (black) Tea is also very good.

I like green tea, too, but I don’t have a favorite green tea, yet. I brought five or six different brands of loose leaf green back from China last June but I hadn’t drank any until recently because I didn’t have a good way to brew it. That’s all changed now, thanks to my son, Ty.

This Christmas, Ty got his wife, Amber, a neat little tea pot called the IngenuiTEA from Adagio Teas. I had seen the IngenuiTEA on the web a few weeks before Christmas and I thought it looked like just the thing to promote green tea drinking in the Margheim household. Amber’s IngenuiTEA worked so well, I had to get one for myself.

To use the IngenuiTEA you: heat the water, put the loose leaf tea in the IngenuiTEA, pour the hot water over the tea, steep for the proper amount of time, set the IngenuiTEA on top of your cup and watch the brewed tea flow into the cup.  To clean up, simply rinse the tea out the IngenuiTEA.

I’ve brewed three or four pots of green tea with the IngenuiTEA and recommend it highly. It is convenient to use, easy to clean and brews good tea (I’m not qualified to say whether or not it brews great tea).

The IngenuiTEA holds 16 ounces of water.

The Best Guitarist(s) in the World

January 13th, 2009

I don’t know who the best guitarist in the world is, but I know which guitarists I would most like to be able to play like (if I could play the guitar).

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I would like to play guitar like Lindsey Buckingham (lead guitarist for Fleetwood Mac).  Lindsey’s unique style, devotion to his craft and willingness to take chances  sets him apart from most other rock guitarists. As the All Music Guide says, he is a breathtaking guitar player.  His latest CD, “Gift of Screws” is a must listen for anyone that appreciates “rocking, heady electric pop…, as well as some glorious, lyrically sophisticated, acoustic singer/songwriter fare”

On  Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I would like to play guitar like Dave Evans (The Edge) U2’s guitarist. The Edge is known for his ability to create powerful melodies with minimal flashiness. Larry Mullen, U2’s drum player said something to the effect that The Edge is always searching for the perfect song, the perfect sound, the perfect idea. I have the feeling that The Edge often thinks of God when he is playing guitar.  I know his playing often inspires me to worship God.

On Sundays I would like to play like Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac’s original guitarist.  A guitar player’s guitarist, he is regarded by many as the finest white blues guitarist ever.  Peter replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and won over a legion of Clapton’s fans to his own sound.  My favorite song of Peter’s from this era is “The Supernatural.”

Peter wrote Carlos Santana’s signature hit “Black Magic Woman” and performed it on Fleetwood Mac’s album “English Rose“.  Fleetwood Mac’s original version of the song is every bit as compelling as Santana’s.

The body of work represented by these three outstanding guitar players is nothing short of amazing and their influence on generations of guitar players is incalculable.  They have given me countless hours of pleasure listening to their songs for which I am exceedingly grateful.