Sunday, August 06, 2006

An Open Discussion on Tithing #1

I read an interesting book a few years back titled The Kingdom of God is a Party. In it, Tony Campolo suggested a radical departure from the normal way of tithing – one that was apparently more scripturally sound, but harder to preach. It’s one of the most memorable theological type books I have read, but alas I didn’t really study the scriptures for my self.

Recently however I have come across an article that seems to portray the same ideals (I say seems to as I have yet to read the whole thing) and this time I’m going to look at some of the scriptures myself, and use my blog as an open forum for my thoughts.

What I would like to emphasise up front is that I personally think we should support our church as our church supports us. How we do this is also open for discussion.

What should be tithed?
Leviticus 27:30-33
One tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD and must be set apart to him as holy. If you want to buy back the LORD's tenth of the grain or fruit, you must pay its value, plus 20 percent. Count off every tenth animal from your herds and flocks and set them apart for the LORD as holy. You may not pick and choose between good and bad animals, and you may not substitute one for another. But if you do exchange one animal for another, then both the original animal and its substitute will be considered holy and cannot be bought back.

One tenth of the produce of the land. Does this mean that fishermen were not required to tithe their catch?

Count off every tenth animal from your herds and flocks… In other words, not necessarily your best ten percent, but a random selection? And what if you only had 9 animals, does this mean you wouldn’t have to tithe?

What if you were a labourer and had no produce of the land, this verse doesn’t mention anything about money.

Taking these thoughts further, what about the modern context? What if you didn’t work the land, should we assume that because we live in a very different world, we should replace produce with wage? And what about those of us who choose to work for charitable organizations and earn far less than we could if we worked purely for profit? Do these people fall into the category of those with herds or flock with less than 10 animals?

As I said before, this is purely an open discussion and I’m interested in other views, because it is all to easy for an individual to read a verse out of context and come up with the wrong answer.

Interestingly last night at church, Brett in his usual underplayed way spoke of the offering (I can’t remember if he used the T word!) as being an act of worship (nothing new there) but also tied in giving to the food bank as a form of worship/offering to God. This is the first time in my church experience that anything other than money has been an acceptable offering to God in a church environment. Cool.


servant said...

In your study of scripture, look for the people in the Old Testament who DIDN'T HAVE TO TITHE.

BJ said...

Woo hoo!

Steve Goble said...

I think the principle in tithing is to take everything God has given you, but always give him the best bit (i.e. best tenth) back. That way you always place him ahead of yourself.

onscreen said...

Steve: That's exactly what I've always been taught, but I've never been given a solid Biblical reason for doing so, and I'm not 100% convinced that the Bible tells us to do it this way. Though I do whole heartedly believe in being generous with what God has given us.