How Did We Get Here?

Protestants are quick to condemn Roman Catholics for holding tradition as equal or superior to God's written word. The Protestant Reformation was a call to return to the purity of God's word, to shed the trappings of man that had been building up on the practice of Christianity. It was never the intent of the reformers for the Reformation to be a one-time happening. In fact many of the so-called radicals of that day only differed with other reformers in the speed by which they wanted to make the changes. It was the feeling of some of the prominent reformers that too much change in too many areas would cause even greater opposition. Sadly, the Reformation seemed to stall in so many areas in the generation that followed. The changes already made were enshrined as being orthodoxy and the practices that had been left alone ultimately were lumped in with them.

The new tithe was a Roman Catholic practice that was carried forward, albeit with a few tweaks here and there. Before considering the time of the Reformation, it is first necessary to examine the history of the early church. For those who would say, "Why bother? History doesn't really matter," we beg to differ. While we should never place it on par with Scriptures or in place of Scriptures, history does allow us to see where we have deviated from God's word and what led to it. In addition, we need to remember that we do not practice our faith in a vacuum. The same Holy Spirit that guides us into all truth has taught believers throughout history. For this reason we will often find other believers that have held to the same Scriptural truths throughout all eras, even during the very dark times of church history.

Our quest for church origins, in regards to these practices, led to an examination of the writings of those called the early church fathers. Primarily the writings of early church leaders, who wrote on just about every practice and dispute of the early church, if the tithe was common, it should have been mentioned. In the earliest versions of this document, we stated that we had found nothing. In fact, we subsequently found a single early (pre third century) church father who had referenced tithing. That church father was Irenaeus, who lived from A.D. 120-202. Writing circa 177 A.D. in his work entitled, "Against Heresies," Irenaeus was working to refute what he saw as error creeping into the church during the century following the last apostle. In Book IV, Chapter 13, in a chapter entitled "Christ Did Not Abrogate the Natural Precepts of the Law, But Rather Fulfilled and Extended Them", he wrote the following...

3. And for this reason did the Lord, instead of that [commandment], "Thou shalt not commit adultery," forbid even concupiscence; and instead of that which runs thus, "Thou shalt not kill," He prohibited anger; and instead of the law enjoining the giving of tithes, [He told us] to share all our possessions with the poor; and not to love our neighbours only, but even our enemies; and not merely to be liberal givers and bestowers, but even that we should present a gratuitous gift to those who take away our goods. For "to him that taketh away thy coat," He says, "give to him thy cloak also; and from him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again; and as ye would that men should do unto you, do ye unto them:" so that we may not grieve as those who are unwilling to be defrauded, but may rejoice as those who have given willingly, and as rather conferring a favour upon our neighbours than yielding to necessity. "And if any one," He says, "shall compel thee [to go] a mile, go with him twain;" so that thou mayest not follow him as a slave, but may as a free man go before him, showing thyself in all things kindly disposed and useful to thy neighbour, not regarding their evil intentions, but performing thy kind offices, assimilating thyself to the Father, "who maketh His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rain upon the just and unjust." (Emphasis ours)

For Irenaeus, Christ had fulfilled the letter of the law so as to set us free to uphold its' intent through the imitation of our heavenly Father in love. A few chapters later he offers even more details of this freedom.

Chapter 18 - Concerning Sacrifices and Oblations, and Those Who Truly Offer Them

2. And the class of oblations in general has not been set aside; for there were both oblations there [among the Jews], and there are oblations here [among the Christians]. Sacrifices there were among the people; sacrifices there are, too, in the Church: but the species alone has been changed, inasmuch as the offering is now made, not by slaves, but by freemen. For the Lord is [ever] one and the same; but the character of a servile oblation is peculiar [to itself], as is also that of freemen, in order that, by the very oblations, the indication of liberty may be set forth. For with Him there is nothing purposeless, nor without signification, nor without design. And for this reason they (the Jews) had indeed the tithes of their goods consecrated to Him, but those who have received liberty set aside all their possessions for the Lord's purposes, bestowing joyfully and freely not the less valuable portions of their property, since they have the hope of better things [hereafter]; as that poor widow acted who cast all her living into the treasury of God. (Emphasis ours)

Clearly this one early church father that referenced tithing was doing so not to uphold the Jewish practice but rather to show that the church inherited freedom to do far better! Christians were not those who gave a portion out of obligation, they are those who give all out of love.

Moving into works of the late third century and beyond there are increasing references to tithing, mostly due to a fundamental paradigm shift that took place in the church - the creation of the state sponsored church. It was only after the church became institutionalized and recognized by the state (Rome) that tithing began to be imposed as a means of supporting the organization. While there had been those in full-time ministry, who were dependant on gifts and generosity of others from the earliest days of the church, it was only after the church began to acquire buildings, lands, and other vast holdings, that reinstitution of a tithe was contrived as a means of financing all this.

For example a document called "The Constitutions," which is believed to have been written or compiled circa 350-400 A.D., has much to say on tithing and offerings. It should be noted that this document establishes long and detailed ritual and regulation for the church, most not found or even hinted at in Scriptures, and often attributes them to Scriptural persons including the apostles. From Book 8, Section 4, "The Same Apostle's Constitution Concerning First-Fruits and Tithe Tithes" (Notice the claim that this came from the apostles!)...

XXX. I the same make a constitution in regard to first-fruits and tithes. Let all first-fruits be brought to the bishop, and to the presbyters, and to the deacons, for their maintenance; but let all the tithe be for the maintenance of the rest of the clergy, and of the virgins and widows, and of those under the trial of poverty. For the first-fruits belong to the priests, and to those deacons that minister to them.

By this document, the Old Testament offerings and tithes were still in effect - in truth a new tithe, as it wasn't even administered in fashion of the old. Additionally the new church hierarchy is shown to be taking over for the old priesthood. Book 2, Section 4, provides additional details...

Of First-Fruits and Tithes, and After What Manner the Bishop is Himself to Partake of Them, or to Distribute Them to Others.

XXV. Let him use those tenths and first-fruits, which are given according to the command of God, as a man of God; as also let him dispense in a right manner the free-will offerings which are brought in on account of the poor, to the orphans, the widows, the afflicted, and strangers in distress, as having that God for the examiner of his accounts who has committed the disposition to him. Distribute to all those in want with righteousness, and yourselves use the things which belong to the Lord, but do not abuse them; eating of them, but not eating them all up by yourselves: communicate with those that are in want, and thereby show yourselves unblameable before God. For if you shall consume them by yourselves, you will be reproached by God, who says to such unsatiable people, who alone devour all, "Ye eat up the milk, and clothe yourselves with the wool;" and in another passage, "Must you alone live upon the earth Upon which account you are commanded in the law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Now we say these things, not as if you might not partake of the fruits of your labours; for it is written, "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox which treadeth out the corn;" but that you should do it with moderation and righteousness. As, therefore, the ox that labours in the threshing-floor without a muzzle eats indeed, but does not eat all up; so do you who labour in the threshing-floor, that is, in the Church eat of the Church: which was also the case of the Levites, who served in the tabernacle of the testimony, which was in all things a type of the Church. Nay, further, its very name implied that that tabernacle was fore-appointed for a testimony of the Church. Here, therefore, the Levites also, who attended upon the tabernacle partook of those things that were offered to God by all the people,-namely, gifts, offerings, and first-fruits, and tithes, and sacrifices, and oblations, without disturbance, they and their wives, and their sons and their daughters. Since their employment was the ministration to the tabernacle, therefore they had not any lot or inheritance in the land among the children of Israel, because the oblations of the people were the lot of Levi, and the inheritance of their tribe.

You, therefore, O bishops, are to your people priests and Levites, ministering to the holy tabernacle, the holy Catholic Church; who stand at the altar of the Lord your God, and offer to Him reasonable and unbloody sacrifices through Jesus the great High Priest. You are to the laity prophets, rulers, governors, and kings; the mediators between God and His faithful people, who receive and declare His word, well acquainted with the Scriptures. Ye are the voice of and witnesses of His will, who bear the sins of all, and intercede for all; whom, as you have heard, the word severely threatens if you hide the key of knowledge from men, who are liable to perdition if you do not declare His will to the people that are under you; who shall have a certain reward from God, and unspeakable honour and glory, if you duly minister to the holy tabernacle.

For as yours is the burden, so you receive as your fruit the supply of food and other necessaries. For you imitate Christ the Lord; and as He "bare the sins of us all upon the tree" at His crucifixion, the innocent for those who deserved punishment, so also you ought to make the sins of the people your own. For concerning our Saviour it is said in Isaiah, "He bears our sins, and is afflicted for us." And again: "He bare the sins of many, and was delivered for our offences." As, therefore, you are patterns for others, so have you Christ for your pattern. As, therefore, He is concerned for all, so be you for the laity under you. For do not thou imagine that the office of a bishop is an easy or light burden. As, therefore, you bear the weight, so have you a right to partake of the fruits before others, and to impart to those that are in want, as being to give an account to Him, who without bias will examine your accounts.

For those who attend upon the Church ought to be maintained by the Church, as being priests, Levites, presidents, and ministers of God; as it is written in the book of Numbers concerning the priests: "And the Lord said unto Aaron, Thou, and thy sons, and the house of thy family, shall bear the iniquities of the holy things of priesthood." "Behold, I have given unto you the charge of the first-fruits, from all that are sanctified to me by the children of Israel; I have given them for a reward to thee, and to thy sons after thee, by an ordinance for ever. This shall be yours out of the holy things, out of the oblations, and out of the gifts, and out of all the sacrifices, and out of every trespass-offering, and sin-offerings; and all that they render unto me out of all their holy things, they shall belong to thee, and to thy sons: in the sanctuary shall they eat them." And a little after: "All the first-fruits of the oil, and of the wine, and of the wheat, all which they shall give unto the Lord, to thee have I given them; and all that is first ripe, to thee have I given it, and every devoted thing. Every first-born of man and of beast, clean and unclean, and of sacrifice, with the breast, and the right shoulder, all these appertain to the priests, and to the rest of those belonging to them, even to the Levites."

Hear this, you of the laity also, the elect Church of God. For the people were formerly called "the people of God," and "an holy nation." You, therefore, are the holy and sacred "Church of God, enrolled in heaven, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people," a bride adorned for the Lord God, a great Church, a faithful Church. Hear attentively now what was said formerly: oblations and tithes belong to Christ our High Priest, and to those who minister to Him. Tenths of salvation are the first letter of the name of Jesus. Hear, O thou Holy Catholic Church, who hast escaped the ten plagues, and hast received the ten commandments, and hast learned the law, and hast kept the faith, and hast believed in Jesus, and hast known the decad, and hast believed in the iota which is the first letter of the name of Jesus, and art named after His name, and art established, and shinest in the consummation of His glory. Those which were then the sacrifices now are prayers, and intercessions, and thanksgivings. Those which were then first-fruits, and tithes, and offerings, and gifts, now are oblations, which are presented by holy bishops to the Lord God, through Jesus Christ, who has died for them. For these are your high priests, as the presbyters are your priests, and your present deacons instead of your Levites; as are also your readers, your singers, your porters, your deaconesses, your widows, your virgins, and your orphans: but He who is above all these is the High Priest.

It's clear in this long excerpt that the church was now promoting its leadership as being a continuation, or at least an equivalent, to the Levitical priesthood. It's no surprise that most of the remaining volumes of this work detail a list of dos and don'ts, creating a new system of legalism (or law) for the church (... for example, including such "important" details on how often and where women should bathe).

Once firmly set up as being a successor to the Levitical priesthood and temple and with this entire new tithe mandatorily coming to the church, there appears to be little deviation in the centuries that followed. The next major church document that we could find merely had the church debating finer points of how the tithe should be defined. Take note that the tithe was still defined mostly in terms of things grown - closer to Old Testament practice.

The Irish Canons: Collection of the Tithe, c. 750

The tithe was not always clearly defined. In this case the clergy appear to be taking issue with the jurists as to whether the collection of the tithe should be made only once, or once annually, and giving an explanation of what the tithe ought to be. The tithe applied to the produce of the soil and to livestock.

1. The jurists say that tithe of cattle should be offered once and on that account it will be most holy, i.e., the tithe should not be offered again. But others of the true faith affirm that we should give tithes of living and mortal things to God every year, since every year we enjoy His gifts.

2. Also, of all fruits of the soil a tithe ought to be offered once a year to the Lord, for as it is said: "Whatever has been once consecrated to God, will be most holy in the sight of the Lord." For the tithe should not be offered repeatedly from those things, as the learned Columman has taught. But of the fruits of the soil a tenth part ought to be offered every year, because they are produced every year.

3. Also, tithes are from all living things. So the first fruits of everything, and the animal that is born first in the year should be given. For the first born of animals are like first fruits; and the first born of men and of animals may be offered.

4. Also, concerning tithes in herds and first fruits. First born are those which are born before any others are born in that year. It should be known how great is the weight of the first fruits, i.e., nine or twelve measures. Hence, the measure of the offering should be sufficient material for nine or twelve loaves. But of vegetables it should be as much as can be carried in the hand. It ought to be paid at the beginning of the summer, just as it was offered once a year to the priests of Jerusalem. But in the New Testament each would offer it to the monastery to which he belongs. And toward this would be especially charitable; of the first-born let males, never females, be offered.

5. Also, if any have less substance than the tithe they shall not pay the tithe.

6. Also, in order that all might find it convenient to offer tithes in some way to God, if they have only one cow or ox, let them divide the price of the cow into ten parts and give a tenth part to God. And so let it be done for other things...

(Original Source: J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Paris, 1862, Vol. XCVI, pp. 1319-1320. Internet Medieval Sourcebook, © Paul Halsall, October 1998,

Point six, the final point in this medieval document, certainly provided a possibility for moving the tithe from grown things into the realm of currency.

Since there was no rational or biblically consistent way of imposing the tithe on the church (and believers), many different methods were implemented in the years that followed. Sometimes the tithe was only on crops and livestock, yet it became increasingly more important to receive money to finance grand church endeavors. Tithes were sometimes payable to the local priest, sometimes to higher church authorities, sometime to secular authorities who had been assigned the tithe by the church. For a layperson to be found with the tithe at one period in history (1179), it was punishable by excommunication (and by statement, the loss of one's soul) - a far cry from the tithe being administered and consumed by the giver in Old Testament scriptures. In some countries the tithe was applied as a universal tax, while in lands that had feudal estates the estate often paid the tithe/tax with the feudal residents having nothing to do with it (other than having some of their work taken from them). The adaptation of the tithe reached a pivotal point as it neared the 13th century. Up until this time, the tithe was still mostly considered to be of things grown ("fruits of the earth"), but now it was decreed that the tithe was of "all kinds of profit and wages." Thus the final stage was now set for what has become the monetary tithe of today.

To emphasize the importance of understanding all this historical invention of the modern tithe, some excerpts from the article on tithing in the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (1928, Scribners) sum up the changes that began a couple hundred years following the apostles.

In the [early] Christian Church the need of supporting the clergy... was recognized, but the system of tithe was not generally resorted to for several centuries. ... Until the 4th century little is heard of it, and some writers regard the matter from a totally different point of view from that which was later adopted.

Simply put, tithing was deemed necessary by the organized church when the amounts of money needed to support the organization had grown to the point that freewill giving wouldn't suffice. The mindset was, if people wouldn't give enough of their own free will; use the clout of the organization to impose mandatory giving. What was the great change that led to this financial necessity? It was the onset of the church's great love affair with building huge edifices and owning lands. During this period of time, lines between Old Testament norms and new Christian practices blurred. It was easy to justify large cathedrals with "sanctuaries" by equating them to the glory of the temple (ignoring the fact that the new dwelling place of God was in people). Of course temples needed priests and a priesthood (ignoring the new priesthood of all believers), and how else to finance all this but to impose mandatory giving. Into this quagmire of beliefs the "new version tithe" emerged, based more on what they wanted it to be than what it Biblically had been. Ignorance of scriptures, by what became known as "lay people," combined with leadership who professed to be solely able to interpret and teach scriptures, easily enabled a whole new system to be established. This latter claim has been used, to some degree, by modern teachers when faced with questioning parishioners.

In using proof texts, including Matthew 10:10, Luke 10:7, and 1 Corinthians 9:7, to claim authorization for implementing mandatory giving, it began a cycle of commonly misusing Scriptures to justify tithing. It took going against Scriptures and even the writings of early church fathers to adopt this counterfeit system of giving. For example, continuing from the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics...

Irenaeus, referring to tithes in the Jewish system, says characteristically that Christians, as "those who have received liberty, set aside all their possessions for the Lord's purposes, bestowing joyfully and freely not the less valuable portion of their property." ... Epiphanius says that the tithe is no more binding than circumcision

Well known writers such as Augustine (writing between 386 - 430 A.D.) had been partly influenced by the new system that was then gaining ground, but still wrote of freedom in giving, trying to somehow reconcile the two. These attempts to reconcile the two opposing systems continue to this day. Continuing from the Encyclopaedia...

In was inevitable, however, that, as the Church spread far and wide, circumstances should make it necessary to fall back upon rule, based upon legal provision, and the old standard of a tenth was set up, and the Christian priest was compared in this matter to the Jewish priest and Levite.

Initially the Eastern Church opposed the Western Church, who had quickly adopted this system. In fact there appears to have been some resistance among parts of the Western Church. Again, more from the Encyclopaedia...

Even in the West there is evidence that "this species of ecclesiastical property was acquired not only by degrees, but with considerable opposition." The moral duty of paying the tithe was now generally taught, but, even after it was made a matter of [church] law, tithe was paid reluctantly and irregularly. In A.D. 585 the Council of Macon ordained its payment... He who refused to pay it was to be excommunicated. Other councils enjoined it, but it was not until the time of Charlemagne that it became a matter of [civil] law. In one of his capitularies he ordained it to be paid to churches and clergy. (Clarifications ours)

Now with civil authority and enforcement, the tithe was entrenched in country after country, wherever the Roman church spread.

The Roman Catholic Church does not attempt to hide their role in creating the modern tithe. Remember, they functionally claim the authority to establish any new practice for the church regardless of the written word. From their encyclopedia:


Generally defined as "the tenth part of the increase arising from the profits of land and stock, allotted to the clergy for their support or devoted to religious or charitable uses". A more radical definition is "the tenth part of all fruits and profits justly acquired, owed to God in recognition of his supreme dominion over man, and to be paid to the ministers of the church". ...

In the Christian Church, as those who serve the altar should live by the altar (1 Corinthians 9:13), provision of some kind had necessarily to be made for the sacred ministers. In the beginning this was supplied by the spontaneous offerings of the faithful. In the course of time, however, as the Church expanded and various institutions arose, it became necessary to make laws which would insure the proper and permanent support of the clergy. The payment of tithes was adopted from the Old Law, and early writers speak of it as a divine ordinance and an obligation of conscience. The earliest positive legislation on the subject seems to be contained in the letter of the bishops assembled at Tours in 567 and the canons of the Council of Maçon in 585. In course of time, we find the payment of tithes made obligatory by ecclesiastical enactments in all the countries of christendom. The Church looked on this payment as "of divine law, since tithes were instituted not by man but by the Lord Himself" (C. 14, X de decim. III, 30). As regards the civil power, the Christian Roman emperors granted the right to churches of retaining a portion of the produce of certain lands, but the earliest instance of the enforcement of the payment of ecclesiastical tithes by civil law is to be found in the capitularies of Charlemagne, at the end of the eighth century. English law very early recognized the tithe, as in the reigns of Athelstan, Edgar, and Canute before the Norman Conquest. In English statute law proper, however, the first mention of tithes is to be found in the Statute of Westminister of 1285. Tithes are of three kinds: predial, or that derived from the annual crops; mixed, or what arises from things nourished by the land, as cattle, milk, cheese, wool; and personal or the result of industry or occupation. Predial tithes were generally called great tithes, and mixed and personal tithes, small tithes. Natural substances having no annual increase are not tithable, nor are wild animals. When property is inherited or donated, it is not subject to the law of tithes, but its natural increase is. There are many exempted from the paying of tithes: spiritual corporations, the owners of uncultivated lands, those who have acquired lawful prescription, or have obtained a legal renunciation, or received a privilege from the pope.

At first, the tithe was payable to the bishop, but later the right passed by common law to parish priests. Abuses soon crept in. The right to receive tithes was granted to princes and nobles, even hereditarily, by ecclesiastics in return for protection or eminent services, and this species of impropriation became so intolerable that the Third Council of Lateran (1179) decreed that no alienation of tithes to laymen was permissible without the consent of the pope. In the time of Gregory VIII, a so-called Saladin tithe was instituted, which was payable by all who did not take part personally in the crusade to recover the Holy Land. At the present time, in most countries where some species of tithes still exist, as in England (for the Established Church), in Austria, and Germany, the payment has been changed into a rent-charge. In English-speaking countries generally, as far as Catholics are concerned, the clergy receive no tithes. As a consequence, other means have had to be adopted to support the clergy and maintain the ecclesiastical institutions, and to substitute other equivalent payments in lieu of tithes. Soglia (Institut, Canon, II, 12) says "The law of tithes can never be abrogated by prescription or custom, if the ministers of the Church have no suitable and sufficient provision from other sources; because then the natural and divine law, which can neither be abrogated not antiquate, commands that the tithe be paid." (Article Tithes, Catholic Encyclopedia, On-line edition transcribed from the original 1913 version,

Isn't it incredible how easily and callously the Roman Catholic Church admits that it invented the practice of tithing for the church, fully knowing that it was not the original standard? They admit that it was from the Old Law (of Moses), and that the church subsequently required its payment as a demand of "divine law." Yet it was reestablished solely on their own authority. The Roman church at least kept it in association with things grown for most of their history, something that has been completely lost in Protestant churches. In regards to the western world, the Catholic Church no longer imposes tithes because they have "other sources" of revenue, but they still claim the un-abrogated right to do so as they need.

For all the great reforms accomplished in the Protestant Reformation, none of the major reformers were willing to affect their (or their church's) means of livelihood by examining the tithe. As such, the tithe was so well accepted that it was a non-issue. To be fair, they were more focused on key issues such as salvation by faith alone (sola fides) and the sufficiency and authority of Scriptures (sola scriptura). The principle of Sola Scriptura should have subsequently led to examination of practices such as tithing, even as it did with other Roman inventions including indulgences. Yet, tithing remained because a number of reformers of subsequent generations developed a system of doctrine whereby they believed they had Scriptural reason to carry much of the Old Testament into the church (see Appendix B). This effectively minimized examination of any current practice that could be seen as having any ties to the Old Testament.

Other aspects of Roman practice remained too. Beyond the tithe, many Reformers were quite willing to continue using civil authority to enforce church law; now a Protestant version versus the former Roman list. Some churches in early America (Virginia 1776-1779) even experimented with imposing civilly compelled tithe-taxes for support of the established church. Highly unpopular and being seen as a throwback to some of the state church abuses in Europe, this tithe-tax was subsequently revoked and abandoned. While no longer using civil compulsion, the church of today still imposes this developed tithing system onto its adherents. Perhaps it's time for the Reformation to continue!

Ecclesiastical Tax Collectors

Some church leaders treat church members as so many workers and drones. Leaders demand that members bring their tithes "into the storehouse," and embarrass, humiliate, or discipline them if they fail to do so. During the Middle Ages, the Roman Church-State collected the tithe as a tax -- no doubt a model for those who desire to re-establish Christendom today. Some modern ecclesiastical tyrants have suggested that church leaders examine the income tax returns of church members to make sure they are tithing the full amount due. They want members to send their intrusive 1040s not merely to the IRS, but to the church Session as well, which, meeting in secret of course, will decide who is paying his church taxes and who is not.

Other church leaders wheedle and cajole and urge members to fork over the cash by making them feel guilty of being selfish or stingy, or of lacking faith. They strong-arm members to make "faith promises," that is, to make presumptuous promises to give more money to the church than the member can afford to give, and frequently more money than the member owns. Such "faith promises" teach the member to presume upon God by jumping off the pinnacle of the Temple, expecting that God will catch him. Still other church leaders use a combination of tax money, guilt, intimidation, and false promises to amass endowments by which they fund their sinecures, build monuments and bureaucracies to their own glory or to the glory of idols, construct palaces to live in, influence rulers, and control the destiny of nations. That is how the Roman Church-State became the wealthiest institution on the face of the Earth.

In the face of all this clerical treason, manipulation, and exploitation, what is a Christian to do? (Excerpt from a newsletter article entitled "Biblical Principles of Giving" by John W. Robbins of the Trinity Foundation,, March 2004)

Many pastors and teachers of the church have never completed an unbiased study on this matter and have unquestionably accepted the traditions passed on to them. Like many of us, until we were challenged to search the Scriptures for the truth, we didn't even know we were supposed to be looking. In love, encourage others - especially leaders of the church - to seek out this truth. There's no better place for reformation to begin than with the leadership of God's church.

Reversing unfounded change, once it has become tradition in our fellowships, has historically always come hard. Even denominations that have prided themselves on their Biblical underpinnings, such as the Baptists, have fallen - albeit very slowly - into this error of tithing. The original London Baptist Confession of Faith from 1644 and the subsequent second confession of 1689, both did not ascribe to tithing by section, reference or Scripture example. And these statements of faith were filled with Scripture proofs!

XXXVII. That the Ministers aforesaid, lawfully called by the Church, where they are to administer, ought to continue in their calling, according to God's Ordinance, and carefully to feed the flock of Christ committed to them, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. [Heb. 5:4; Acts 4:23; 1 Tim. 4:14; John 10:3, 4; Acts 20:28; Rom. 12:7, 8; Heb. 13:7, 17.] (London Baptist Confession of Faith A.D. 1644)

XXXVIII. That the due maintenance of the Officers aforesaid, should be the free and voluntary communication of the Church, that according to Christ's Ordinance, they that preach the Gospel, should live on the Gospel and not by constraint to be compelled from the people by a forced Law. [1 Cor. 9:7, 14; Gal. 6:6; 1 Thess. 5:13; 1 Tim. 5:17, 18; Phil. 4:15, 16.] (London Baptist Confession of Faith A.D. 1644)

Chapter 26: "Of the Church", section 10. The work of pastors being constantly to attend the service of Christ, in his churches, in the ministry of the word and prayer, with watching for their souls, as they that must give an account to Him; it is incumbent on the churches to whom they minister, not only to give them all due respect, but also to communicate to them of all their good things according to their ability, so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves entangled in secular affairs; and may also be capable of exercising hospitality towards others; and this is required by the law of nature, and by the express order of our Lord Jesus, who hath ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel. [Acts 6:4; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Timothy 5:17, 18; Galatians 6:6, 7; 2 Timothy 2:4; 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Corinthians 9:6-14] (London Baptist Confession of Faith A.D. 1689.)

It should not be missed that this later confession clearly states why tithing, as a temple ordinance, no longer applies to the church. In Chapter 19, Section 3, it ends by saying of these Old Testament laws, "all which ceremonial laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are, by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only law-giver, who was furnished with power from the Father for that end abrogated and taken away."

Moving to America, the 1742 Philadelphia Confession of faith, which was based on the Second London Confession, also did not see an addition of anything supporting tithing. Subsequent smaller confessions, including the 1768 Sandy Creek and 1813 Charleston, were likewise silent. The next substantial work was the 1833 New Hampshire confession, which dealt with 18 key aspects of faith and practice with nary a word or reference to tithing. The 1925 Southern Baptist Faith and Message Statement still had no expression of support for tithing. To be fair, elements of this new tithe had begun to creep into some Southern Baptist circles by this time, but the very fact it remained outside the Faith and Message Statement showed that it did not have the high level and widespread support necessary for inclusion. That was destined to change though. The Southern Baptist supporters of the new tithe finally gained their foothold in their statement of faith, not directly but indirectly, in 1963. While the words "Tithe, Tithes, or Tithing" are never mentioned; references to proof-texts, now commonly misused to justify tithing, were added in regards to the subject of Stewardship (i.e. Genesis 14:20; Genesis 27:30-32; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 23:23). It took 319 years (1644 to 1963) to fall this far. How long before we get back to Scriptures?

Our greatest concern is for those who have heard the truth and adopt the attitude of "don't confuse me with the facts!" Those who ignore God's word and teach others to follow, do so to their own peril.

James 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (NIV)

Continuing to extort money under false pretences (which is to use any manner not prescribed by God) is ultimately to be found robbing believers - of money and more, as will be seen in the next section.

So if the Tithe and offerings of the Law aren't for the church, what and how should we be giving? ...