Saturday, March 14, 2009

Scripture for Tithe & Offering

The tithe and offering is a fixture in the American church (I'm not sure about internationally). And it makes sense. The bills DO have to be paid. Although I have to be honest in that the biblical mandates used have never been terribly convincing. I've heard them and arguments for giving 10% (still seems rather arbitrary from a Scriptural perspective) hundreds, if not thousands of times.

I still remain a bit unmoved. I'm sure there's those who would argue that I'm just ignoring God. However, I wonder if there's another explanation. The Christian History article, Passing the Plate, is a great, concise history of tithes and offerings in the American church. Originally, churches were financially supported by the State through taxes and fees. Once that ended, church leaders needed to find another income. Fair enough.

But just as we so often do, they began looking to the Bible for support, finding a biblical mandate. Now I wonder if now-deeply-rooted belief in the biblical mandate of tithe and offering is an honest exegetical interpretation of Scripture or is actually proof texting. It's often felt like the latter to me, although I have to be honest in saying that I have not done an exegetical study of those verses.

Is this to say that tithes and offerings are bad or unwise? Absolutely not. They're absolutely necessary. But call them what they are: A practical need. The crossover into the spiritual realm (especially from an Incarnational perspective) comes quickly, as we want to support our communities. However, I have all-too-often heard these biblical mandates used in ways to create funding thought spiritual guilt and shame. That's quite unbiblical...


Got a question, struggle, or doubt you'd like to see addressed here? Contact me, and I'll try to discuss it (and may even help you get an answer).