1

Tithing was known in the ancient world, adopted by the Patriarchs, and practiced by Pharisees under the Law of Moses. There was the mixed positions taken by the Reformers of Protestantism. (See According to Reformed Theology, what is the doctrinal basis for belief in New Testament tithing?)

But has modern Protestant belief systems maintained the Reformers' positions? Or has modern research and manuscript discoveries altered that traditional belief concerning tithing?

There are several old books that present the History of Tithing from ancient times (pre Patriarchal) up to the 19th century British era. [The Sacred Tenth by Henry Lansdell, London, 1906; The Law of the Tithe by Arthur Babbs, New York, 1912; An Historical Vindication of the Right of Tithes by Thos. Comber, London, 1682]

But what would they write concerning the "next chapter" in Christian history in regard to tithing (The twentieth, on to the twenty-first century)? What is the scholarly, biblical opinion today? Is it at all controversial? Is it considered optional? Has it been replaced by "free-will" gifts?

2
  • 1
    I can hardly speak for all visions of all Protestant belief systems, but I do know that in the Calvinistic churches in my country, paying tithing is very well accepted as normal.
    – ABM K
    Commented Jan 28 at 12:09
  • How can greed be legitimised?
    – Michael16
    Commented Mar 16 at 17:55

1 Answer 1

2

Well, this is a great question and I hope to answer it as best as I can. Obviously I can't speak for all branches of Protestantism or Christianity, but I can speak from what I know. For example, the church of Latter-Day Saints and the Seventh-Day Adventist church require their members to tithe, and many other denominations still largely believe in tithing, although not to the same extent, such as Methodists, Calvinists, and many Baptists. However, on the other side, many denominations don't uphold tithing as a New Testament practice. For example: the Anabaptists, JWs, and Church of Christ all teach against tithing.

Before going further lets look at the biblical evidence in regards to tithing. For the most part the traditional outline for tithing is found in Leviticus 27:30 which says "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's: it is holy unto the Lord." The word tithe literally means one tenth, so throughout history many Christians have taken this to mean that we are to give one tenth of our income to Gods work. The Bible is very clear that we are to honor God with our money, such as in Proverbs 3:9, and Malachi goes even further to say that those who do not tithe are actually stealing from God. Malachi 3:8 "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings." These verses are some of the main proof texts used by Christians to validate a belief in tithing. However, the biggest pushback against these passages is that they are all a part of the Old Testament Law, with the word 'tithe' never appearing in the New Testament. Often they will say that the practice of tithing is not a part of New Testament Christianity, and in one sense they are right. In the Old Testament tithing they would give 10 percent of everything, from grain and crops, to sheep and cattle. So in that sense we certainly don't tithe like outlined in the Old Testament. As far as tithing in the New Testament goes, they are correct in saying that the New Testament gives no direct instructions for tithing, but does give countless admonitions for Christians to give of their money to the church, which is fulfilled today through the practice of tithing.

As far as extra-biblical evidence for tithing goes, the simple fact is that Christians have practiced tithing since the beginning of the church, despite the fact that there were many throughout history who denied its necessity. Further, tithing is simply a beneficial practice, Paul said in 1 Timothy 5:17 "...The labourer is worthy of his reward." This is saying that our pastors or elders deserve to be payed for the labour they put into their church, and tithing helps to give them what they rightly need to live. Tithing also helps the church to be able to continue to further Gods work, giving it the necessary financial support to continue expanding its ministries.

As far as manuscript discoveries that alter the view of tithing go, I am not aware of any manuscript discovery that has significant bearing on the subject.

As far as what scholars believe on the subject I cant speak for all, but it does seem to be split down the middle, with many saying that tithing is a New Testament practice, and many yet saying that it is not. For example, I know that the popular Bible teacher Mike Winger believes that tithing is not a New Testament practice, while another popular Bible teacher R.C. Sproul believes that it is. This split seems to characterize many Bible-teachers views on the subject.

When it comes to the issue of tithing in the New Testament church the scholarly opinion seems to be split down the middle, with one side seeing it as necessary, or at least recommended, and the other side seeing it as completely unnecessary and unbiblical. So, in that respect I suppose you could say that it is controversial. However, I do believe that the biblical opinion is that tithing is at least recommended for Christians, but perhaps not necessarily a requirement. The Bible tells Christians to give to God and the church countless times, and I believe that this takes place today through the practice of tithing. I cant say for certain what these writers would write of the subject today, but I can say that the practice of tithing is still alive and well in the 21st century.

In answer to your final two questions, I do not believe that tithing is meant to be optional, God calls all of us to give of our resources to him, and James 4:17 says "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." This would lead me to believe that it is not optional, and may in fact be a sin to hold back of your resources from Gods work. Your final question was whether or not tithing has been replaced by "free-will gifts" This answer also will be in the negative, tithing is separate from free-will gifts, and is meant to be given alongside any other gifts you wish to give to the church.

Obviously this answer does not cover every aspect or area of debate when it comes to tithing, but I hope that I have helped to answer your question.

6
  • 1
    "JWs, and Church of Christ all teach against tithing" - Can you provide proof of this statement?
    – agarza
    Commented Mar 17 at 2:27
  • Jehovah's Witnesses do not tythe - they give voluntarily what they can: jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/do-jehovahs-witnesses-tithe
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 23 at 16:06
  • Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints encourage tything and the giving of other contributions: churchofjesuschrist.org/tools/…
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 23 at 16:09
  • The Church of Christ encourage freewill offerings but are not obliged to tythe: northwestcofc.org/are-christians-required-to-tithe
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 23 at 16:12
  • Welcome to Christianity Stack Exchange. On this site we look for verification of claims made. To help you out, I've given you links to JW's, LDS and Church of Christ official sources on this subject.
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 23 at 16:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .