Method #3 in Support of the Tithe
This third method is not really a new one; rather a mix of method #1 and #2 are used to support it. Since this one takes many forms a quick example will suffice.
Typically it is said that the practice of the tithe was commanded before the Law and subsequently confirmed by the Law, which also provided additional details on its administration. The continuation of the New Testament practice is usually held to be mostly as given by the Law or an increase beyond the Law. In addition, the same temporal blessings offered for obedience to the Law are now transferred to the church (or believers) during the church age for obedience to tithing (i.e. Malachi 3:10-11). Others claim the specific temporal blessings Abraham experienced (i.e. possessions, wealth, etc.) to be still available personally for obedience to the tithe. Even many churches that would not adhere to the extreme form of this - what is often called "the health and wealth gospel" - have embraced a lesser version.
One pro-tithing organization, whose name isn't really necessary, but is representative of many, uses this enticing statement...
Examples offered include financially destitute individuals tithing their last dollars instead of paying rent, to miraculously receive a 34 times return in less than week. Other stories recount new tithers getting quick promotions at work, unexpected refunds, lower mortgage payments, new jobs and more. With advertising like this, one would expect the tithe to be the biblical equivalent of a sure-thing investment. A common phrase repeated by many pro-tithing sources is the expression: "The Law of Tithing"
Regardless of the quantity of the reward, they all hold that the individual or the church will be rewarded physically (or materially) for tithing. Some would claim their version to only be in pursuit of "spiritual rewards," though they claim the need of material things and finances to reap these spiritual rewards -- again believing this is promised by faithful adherence to the tithe.
It should be noted that some people who hold to the second method use verses from the first method, typically out of context, to support aspects of their practice of the tithe. As such, these individuals unwittingly fall into this third method too.
See all the questions regarding Methods #1 and #2 again. Also, the questions...
A. Can we earn blessing (material or otherwise) by tithing? Do our actions create obligation by God? The question of whether Christians can earn favor or standing with God is a long biblical study all by itself. For more on this issue see Appendix A.
B. If we can earn physical blessings and rewards, in the example of Abraham or the extra ordinary blessing promised to the nation of Israel, what makes a moderate version of this more logically (or Biblically) consistent than the full blown "health and wealth gospel" -- where you too should be as wealthy as Abraham? Mixing truth with error cannot be construed as achieving "balance." Truth plus a lie always results in a lie and typically a more dangerous lie due to its coating of truth.
All the questions raised so far, on each method, must be addressed. They can't be summarily dismissed or glossed over. They demand a biblical answer. Fleeing to a traditional response, or citing a prominent church personality or scholar is insufficient. Citing any of the host of tithing seminars is just as unsatisfactory. It should be noted that an increasing number of these seminars are available for church members and even church leadership. These courses have become big business. Some are overtly in support of the tithe, such as...
Others promote the tithe as a fundamental part of a larger package...
Even as this was written, we received a flyer for church leaders inviting them to The Church Financial Seminar, a program that will show them how to get their people to tithe. Topic headings included: "How to Prove Tithing is a Good Thing" and "How to Advance Your Tithes Above and Beyond." Testimonials of how churches had applied seminar principles and benefited from exponential growth in giving through tithing are, of course, included. One was from a pastor who had "purchased their system" and was wondering how the IRS would view his church board deciding to give him all of the extra $73,000 dollars that had come in! (Worrying what the IRS would think is the least of his concerns, but we digress.) Subtly or otherwise, the yearning for financial gain provides a continuing motivation to not re-examine the tithe.
While many lament the factions within today's church -- and a few will even accuse this document of encouraging these divisions - it's actually the unwillingness of believers to search out God's truth, and live by it, which fuels continuing schism. True unity is always based in truth.