of Tithing for the Church
... Absolutely none...
The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (1996, Baker Books) states... "Nowhere does the New Testament require Christians to tithe in the sense of giving 10 percent..." This becomes a very strange assertion for something that consumes volumes of pulpit time, but not so when all of Scriptures is considered. As mentioned earlier, teacher and author, John MacArthur, Jr., arrived at the same conclusion...
This absence of material doesn't dissuade supporters of the new tithe. Second only to sidestepping the issue, fanciful excuses are used to explain away this silence of New Testament Scriptures regarding tithing for believers.
This perversion of Biblical interpretation must not be allowed to stand. Absolute and universal truths need not be restated in multiple locations of Scriptures, including this cited historical event which unquestionably happened. On the other hand, conditional truths or commands - dependant on location, time, circumstances or persons - are assumed to apply only to the specific unless it can be shown from Scriptures that it is to have subsequently broader or general application. This is why we don't send all people to have their leprosy cured in the Jordan as with Naaman (2 Kings 5:10) or why we don't follow Jesus' command to the ten lepers He healed, telling them to show themselves to the priests (Luke 17:14). Each of these events and commands (truths) were given to specific individuals at specific times. In the case of Jesus' instruction to those He healed of leprosy, He was telling them to follow their obligation under the Law, which they were still under prior to Jesus' death and resurrection. His command no longer applies to us as it was given to a specific people.
The danger of poor exegesis of Scriptures allows for all sorts of distortions. For example: with modern tithe-teachers quick to loosely convert things from the Old to the New Testament, one should ask why modern lepers should not have to present themselves to the elders of the church. Using their logic of the new tithe, it would go like this...
God is still concerned abut our health, so the principle of preventing the spread of communicable diseases still applies. Since pastors/elders are the modern equivalent to the priests, and since Jesus spoke positively of the practice in the New Testament (Luke 17:14), all persons healed of communicable diseases must still present themselves before the church to verify their healing. To our knowledge no church requires this, but it makes sense based on their usage of Scriptures in defense of the new tithe. Clearly this shows that detailed and orderly study is necessary.
If, at any time in New Testament Biblical history, there was a possibility that the tithe could have been legitimately carried into the church, it was during the struggle between the Jewish church and the infant Gentile church. Acts chapter 15 begins with some of the Jewish believers telling the Gentiles that they had to follow an aspect of the Law of Moses to be saved. When Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to try and work this out with the leaders of the Hebrew church, those creating the problem on the Jewish side went all out, demanding that the entire Law of Moses must be observed.
Here was a prime opportunity! The ancient Jewish church (assuming that they might act selfishly and apart from God) could have picked any or all of the Law and claimed it to be necessary for the Gentile believers. Or if it was truly God's will that some modified tithe Law was to apply to the gentile church, this was certainly an opportune time to teach this infant church about its ties to the Law and their need to practice it. Yet after seeking God's will and consulting with the Elder's and Apostles (Acts 15:6-19), they determined that saddling Gentile believers with unnecessary parts of the Law of Moses would hinder them from coming to the Lord. In the final verdict, the Jewish church only asked that the following aspects of the law be upheld by the Gentile believers...
Obviously, if God wanted the tithe to be a part of the church, He could have had it stated here. Not honoring idols is a logical continuation of a command of the Law based on the nature of God. While reflected in the Ten Commandments and the command to not have any graven images (Exodus 20:3-4), this mandate is as unchangeable as God is, before or after the Law. Secondly, the requirement to abstain from sexual immorality, is rooted in not only the Law in regards to adultery (Exodus 20:14), but also in God's original design for mankind (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-9).
Perhaps the strangest request recorded here is the legal prohibition of eating things that were strangled or still having their blood. It appears that God wanted them to carry this one aspect of the Law as something that would help keep the peace between the Jewish and Gentile church. Breaking this one element of the ceremonial Law was considered to be highly offensive to the Jews. While it was not really a concern to Gentiles (see 1 Corinthian 10:25-26), God was asking the Gentiles to abstain from something that would be willfully and blatantly offensive to their Jewish brothers.
Regardless of the reasons behind why each of these things remained, note that the tithe was not even in view during this event. Perhaps we need to ask how the church arrived at the point where the command to tithe has been substituted for the actual admonition to not eat things with blood or strangled. This latter command, restated from Jewish dietary law, was all but forgotten in the years that followed, especially after the destruction of the temple and the later failed Bar Kochba rebellion in 132 A.D. From that point onward the church became overwhelmingly Gentile in practice, losing most contact with Judaism and any perceived reason for this last restriction on Christian liberty.
Whether Peter, as the Apostle to the Jews, or Paul, as the Apostle to the Gentiles, or even the beloved Apostle John (Galatians 2:8), each of these writers of the New Testament had plenty of opportunity to talk about tithing - if it had been important or relevant to the Christian Church. Over and over they worked to correct aberrant practices and establish sound doctrine in the new church and yet they were completely silent regarding the tithe.
Today's pastors and theologians are anything but silent on the tithe. Many, otherwise sound, teachers find it necessary to artificially prop up something that just isn't there. In fact, many a message would make one think that a believer is prone to failure and will hinder reaching souls for Christ if they fail to tithe.
One pro-tithe document even made tithing a matter of salvation based primarily on a passage in Matthew...
Besides, by reference, referring to some passages we have already examined -- determining that they don't apply to believers -- this is how they use Matthew 5:20.
The clear implication of this statement is that Christians are to try and out Pharisee the Pharisees! Unless you exceed the nit-picking (yet 10%) tithing of the Pharisees you will not enter God's kingdom. This makes admission to the kingdom about 10 ½ percent.
In reality, the righteousness that Jesus was pointing to was our need of His righteousness to be imputed to us, instead of trying to out do the Law (or an aspect of it). Creating super-Pharisees never helped anyone get to the kingdom, much less live in it!