Should the Church Teach Tithing?
A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
Rod Rogers, Pastor Driven Stewardship
10 Steps to Lead Your Church to Biblical Giving
Rebuttal by Russell Earl Kelly, PH. D.
December 14, 2007
Rogers’ book is the most difficult I have ever tried to review and critique. It fits no pattern and has no biblical support from either the pro-tithing viewpoint or the pro-freewill-giving viewpoint. Rod Rogers’ conclusions that all Christians should begin their giving level at 10 per cent are all based on his own personal opinions and authority.
Rogers freely quotes leading supporters of both viewpoints as if they all agree with him when, in reality, none of them agree with his hermeneutics (principles of interpretation).
Randy Alcorn, Larry Burkett, Howard Dayton and most others quoted by Rogers openly teach that tithing of 10% has always been an eternal moral principle and the beginning minimum standard of giving because the Bible teaches it to the church. Yet Rogers at least pretends to disavow any agreement with this view and says many times in his book that the Bible nowhere commands the Christian to tithe.
On the other hand Craig Blomberg, John MacArthur, Charles Ryrie, Merrill Unger and Spiros Zodhiates and others quoted by Rogers oppose the use of percentage giving because Christian principles are not linked to law principles and tithing.
Who would you say is the most honest person? a) One who disagrees with you and openly teaches what he thinks is correct? –or— b) One who says he agrees with you but teaches what you disagree with? Because of this I have more respect for Alcorn and Burkett than Rogers because they do not first deny the validity of a doctrine and then teach it anyway. As I will amply demonstrate Dr. Rod Rogers fits into the second category. He very strongly states that the Bible does not command that the Christian church teach tithing numerous times. Then he teaches tithing even more strongly than he opposes it. That is hypocrisy of the worst kind!
Another thing that is inconsistent with Rogers is his practical repudiation of grace giving principles which have traditionally been part of the schools he graduated from — Moody Bible Institute (B.A.) and Dallas Theological Seminary (D. Min.). Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder of Dallas Theological Seminary made his position clear in Major Bible Themes which was edited by John Walvoord. Charles Swindoll, a later seminary president, also agrees with Chafer. Yet John W. Reed, Senior Professor of Pastoral Ministries (Dallas) and Joe Henriques, Vice President and Dean of Moody Bible School have endorsed Rogers’ book. This is also contrary to the writings of Merrill Under and Walter Elwell.
Beginning on page 39 Rogers correctly gets most of his giving principles from 2nd Corinthians 8 and 9. This is drastically contrary to the approach used by almost all tithe-teachers who teach that tithes must be given first as a commandment and freewill offerings as seen in 2nd Corinthians 8 and 9 only apply after the tithe is paid.
However Rogers errs greatly in his overuse of 2nd Corinthians 8 and 9 when he stretches them to teach mandatory tithing (while denying it).
Second Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9, are within the context of a one-time or rare freewill offering to the poor in Judea. They are not discussions of how to support church leaders or pay for church buildings. Their giving was sacrificial, generous, cheerful and proportional. But “proportional” does not refer to percentage giving or to tithing. While they gave “beyond their ability” and probably suffered from a shortage of food for a few days, it was a one-time or perhaps a rare chance to give to those poorer than themselves. Such extreme sacrificial giving could not have persisted on a weekly or regular occurrence and should not be applied to weekly Christian giving.
(41) “Grace giving considers it a privilege, not an onerous obligation to give sacrificially to the needs of others.”
Comment: The ordinary church members were begging Paul to allow them to give more. It was not the other way around as Rogers encourages in the greater part of this book. Paul was not begging them.
(41- 42) “Grace giving is inspired by the example of Christ’s gracious nature expressed in His becoming poor that undeserving sinners might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).
“The great apostle knew that if we would meditate on the gracious nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, which moved him to become poor that we might become spiritually rich we would be stirred to make the same kind of self-sacrificing contribution to the needs of others.”
Comment: Rogers is correct here. The context of “rich” in 2nd Corinthians 8 and 9 refers to “spiritual riches” and not financial increase. However Rogers later uses 9:8 to teach about money.
As we will see later, Jesus did not teach that His disciples could follow certain principles and become greatly financially blessed. The text says that Jesus “became poor” and servants are not better than the Master. Luke 6:40.
(44) Referring to 2 Cor 8:7 and 8:11 Rogers correctly says that Paul exhorted both the Macedonians and Corinthians to give more to “abound in this grace also” and to complete what they had earlier showed a desire to do. Freewill giving is a “grace,” a thankful response to God motivated by love for God. On the other hand tithing was not grace, but law –a ceremonial statute or ordinance of the law which did not involve grace.
(44) “Since Paul didn’t think that commanding people to give violated the spirit of grace giving, or put them “under compulsion” (9:7), we need not fear that out bold stewardship preaching is inconsistent with the spirit of grace giving.”
Comment: I disagree. Rogers’ “bold stewardship preaching” is resurrection-plus-more of everything he will repeatedly and strongly deny about tithing. There is a big difference between telling somebody to fulfill his prior financial commitment (i. e. 2 Cor 8 & 9) and in telling him exactly what that financial commitment should be. Rogers brainwashes the ignorant into thinking that even the very poorest should BEGIN their giving level at what he “rejects” –the same level as a tithe. Yet the word “tithe” never comes out of the mouth of Paul, Peter, James or John for the church.
By his attitude Rogers is mocking the clear meaning of “compulsion” from 9:7.
Tithing was not grace and is not grace. Tithing was always “compulsion” whether one agreed or was cheerful. God set standards for church elders and deacons in Timothy and Titus but those standards do not include any percentage of giving. Giving percentages differ between the affluent and poor.
(46) “Grace giving is rewarded by God’s gracious provision of abundant resources for the faithful giver.”
(2 Cor 9:8) “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
Comment: Paul is speaking to the church as a whole. The “you” is plural. He is telling them that, whenever a need arises, God’s grace will be available to meet that need.
(47) “God’s grace graciously rewards us with an abundance of money to meet all of our personal needs and to give to others.”
Comment: This is not what the text says. The text promises “all sufficiency,” that is, “enough” to meet the needs of others. In the context of 8:12-14 this is not a blanket promise that each individual will have more than enough to give.
(51) “The primary requirement for a steward is faithfulness.
1 Cor 4:2 “… it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.”
Comment: Although the above comment is true, the context is not discussing giving or money. Rather it is discussing the giving of service and obedience to the divine calling of God. A steward in a household was not required to give money to support his master.
(53) “God is pleased when you give even though overwhelmed with problems.”
2 Cor 8:1-2 “… that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.”
Comment: Although probably true, the text does not state Rogers’ conclusion. Neither is it a command that the poor Macedonians “must” give even to the point of being without basic necessities. Paul was using the Macedonian example to prod the richer Corinthians to keep their earlier promise to give for the poor in Judea.
(54) “Even if you have poor health, a bad marriage, a miserable job, no job, sick kids, depression, bad neighbors or car problems –none of these is an acceptable reason not to give.”
Comment: This is the most absurd comment found in the entire book! (1) The text (8:1-2) merely states the fact that the Macedonians, though very poor, gave liberally. (2) Rogers first said that “God was pleased (which is acceptable). But (3) Rogers changed points #1 and #2 to conclude that the poorest street people MUST give –no excuse!! This is wrong! Do they cut their pain medicine in half or even eliminate it in order to give to the church?
(54) “God is pleased when you give even when in abject poverty.” (8:2)
Comment: I am sure He is but the texts do not say that –Rogers says that!
(54) “The words ‘deep poverty’ (8:2) tell us they were lacking sufficient resources to meet the necessities of life. … If they were any poorer they would have starved to death or died from lack of shelter and yet God expected them to give.”
Comment: This statement is INSANITY!! God’s Word does not say that God “expected them to give”!!! That is Rogers’ addition and interpretation!!!
The very poor could survive if they went on a foodless fast for several days in order to help their fellow believers in Judea –but only for a few days. This was not something they did or were expected to do every time they gave an offering. Yet Rogers will later incorporate this kind of argument into his demands that all church leaders must and all church members should give a minimum of 10% every time they give. Rogers is building his foundation in order to introduce tithing.
(54) “God’s Word teaches us that no matter how bad our financial condition, we can still give something to God. …”
Comment: “Can” is a little strong unless you are only referring to the one-time sacrificial freewill offering seen in 8:1-2. God’s Word was not “teaching” us to do so in 8:1-2. It was merely pointing out that some had done so.
(54) … few (Americans) lack running water, use an outdoor toilet, have no place to sleep, go hungry for a day or more, or go without heat or shoes in the winter. But even if we were that bad off, we could and should give something to the work of God.”
Comment: Again Rogers is twisting God’s Word to make it say exactly what he wants it to say. While it is true that some in the situation described by Rogers, like the poor widow in the Bible, actually do give away their last dime, the Bible neither demands it nor commands it. It is wrong for Rogers to state that a person who has “no place to sleep” and who has not eaten “for a day or two” SHOULD give something into the offering plate at church. This is almost a criminal misuse of God’s Word.
(55) Mark 12-41-44 “widow’s mite”
Comment: The “widow’s mite” always comes up when tithe-teachers want to illustrate tithing from the Bible. In fact the poor widow was not bringing a tithe to pay the salaries of the Levites and priests. Instead she was placing money into a chest for the poor. (1) She was giving a sacrificial freewill offering and not a tithe. (2) When she left the temple she would have received money back from that poor chest –something most churches ignore. And (3) when she left the Temple Jewish customs would have provided a place to sleep and eat for her. Since most churches do not provide these services, then they have no right to use the widow’s mite to teach what example should be followed.
(55) “God is pleased when you give beyond your ability.” (8:3)
Comment: Again, although he is correct, God’s Word does not say it that way. Rogers has inserted his own conclusion. While “beyond-your-ability” giving can be done occasionally, it cannot be done regularly. Otherwise the giver would eventually lose everything and God does not want us to go into debt.
(55) “They gave away money they needed to buy food for the next day …”
Comment: Or they gave away food they needed to eat the next day. Why doesn’t Rogers realize that this was a one-time or very rare event which cannot be used as an example of everyday giving?
(55) “If you will first determine what you should give to God, you will find yourself giving beyond your ability to give. … God will meet all your financial needs. … If you’re not able to give, then you can give. You can give even if you can’t give!”
Comment: This is nonsense. It is Rogers’ twisted logic. Although the Macedonians voluntarily did once, the Bible does not tell us to give “beyond our ability.” Such is not being a responsible steward. It is irresponsible to give all of your money away and/or all of your master’s money away and then join the poor ranks. See discussion on page 89 regarding 2 Cor 8:12-14.
(56) “God is pleased when you give generously.” “… to the needs of their fellow believers.”
Comments: Yes, He is. But is God pleased when 90% of what you give builds exquisite church buildings or mansions for pastors? In his comments on Acts 20:34 in the Wycliffe Bible Commentary, the renowned theologian, Georgia E. Ladd wrote: “The main objective of giving in the early church was to provide for the needs of the poor brothers rather than to support the preaching of the gospel as is the case today.”
(57) ‘God is pleased when you give eagerly.” (8:4) “begging us with urging for the favor of participation.”
Comment: Again, although it may be true, the text is merely a statement of what the Macedonians did. They were not merely trying to please God; rather they were meeting the needs of fellow believers who were starving in Judea.
(58) “God is pleased when you give cheerfully.” (9:7)
Comment: Surprise! This is the first of six “God is pleased when” statements made by Rogers which is actually documented in the text itself –‘God loves a cheerful giver.’
(58) “God doesn’t want you to give out of a sense of pressure or guilt.”
Comment: Except for his very brief mention of this concept on page 44, Rogers quickly passes it. Why? He will spend the greater part of this book pressuring the giving of at least 10%. He will give church leaders a “year of grace” to get their giving level up to his teaching of 10% –or else. This makes sure that church leadership does not have any gifted persons who just might have terrific medical bills and no food on the table (see pages 163-164). And he puts a guilt trip on members when he encourages them to sign the commitment card to tithe. “Since they do not want to disappoint you their signature on the card provides a non-threatening level of accountability that encourages them to keep their commitment.” (See page 119).
(61) “God is pleased when you base you giving on the level of your prosperity.”
Comment: True, but this does not teach tithing. The affluent should give far more than 10% while the poorest gives sacrificially even when they give less than 10%. This is the equality principle found in 2 Cor 8:12-14 which does not suggest either tithing or a percentage.
(61) (2 Cor 16:2) “This it the basic guideline for deciding how much of your income to give to the Lord’s work.”
Comment: 1 Cor 16:1-2 “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”
First Corinthians 16:2 is almost always quoted by pro-tithe-teachers without its context of verse one. Paul was collecting FOOD for a famine. You cannot eat money and the amount of money needed to buy food in a famine is not worth the trouble. Plus the text is not discussing salaries for preachers or church buildings (which would not even exist for another 200 years).
(61) (2 Cor 16:2) “This it the basic guideline for deciding how much of your income to give to the Lord’s work.”
Comment: I quote this from Rogers twice to show that, rather than obey this biblical guideline, it is really Rogers’ own “interpretation” of the “basic guideline” which he will teach in the remainder of the book!
(61) “How do you know what is the proper amount to give based on your prosperity. I believe the best way is to use a percentage system. Decide on a per cent of…”
Comment: Rogers will take the reader on a downhill white-water ride in the remainder of the book. You will need the raft to stay out of the unscriptural tithe-water itself but you will get a thorough drenching of tithing and beyond on nearly every page. And Rogers’ incredible hermeneutics are all based on his personal opinion –“I believe”—what he personally believes and not what the Word of God actually says!
(61) “But how do you know what per cent to use? Probably the most commonly taught and most widely practiced method is to take 10 per cent of your income and give it to the Lord.”
Comment: Rogers is guilty of gross manipulation beginning right here. On the very next page (62) he will repudiate the pro-tithing claim that tithing is the “most commonly taught and most widely practiced method” before teaching exactly what he has just repudiated anyway! While Rogers (correctly) repudiates all Bible texts which mention tithing he re-enters them using his own authority and re-definition of “tithe.” Follow his manipulation.
(61) “This is known as tithing, because the word “tithe” means “a tenth.”
Comment: While it is true that the word “tithe” means “a tenth” it is NOT true that this is the biblical definition. In God’s Word, although money was an essential worship item even in the Genesis to Deuteronomy, the word “tithe” is always found only connected to God’s miraculous increase of “food” from inside His holy land of national Israel! That fact is easy to demonstrate.
(62) The Truth about the Tithe
“I do not believe that the new covenant believer is commanded anywhere in the Bible to give 10 per cent of his income to God.” [DISHONEST STATEMENT OF DENIAL]
Comment: If Rogers really believed this then he would immediately stop using the word and its percentage altogether. This opening statement is highly misleading, dishonest and even diabolical.
This is what Rogers really means and will say later: “I do not believe that the new covenant believer is commanded anywhere in the Bible to give [MERELY] 10 per cent of his income to God.”
When he adds the word “merely” to the statement Rogers reveals his true goal. He actually firmly believes that the new covenant “commands” (via Rogers’ own authority to re-interpret theology) all believers (even the most destitute) to BEGIN their giving level at the minimum of 10% and increase it from there. In reality he actually teaches tithing even more strongly than most tithe teachers who do not pretend that they do not teach tithing!
(62) Gen 14 Abraham and 28 Jacob: “While these examples of tithing are commendable the scriptures do not command us to follow them, nor should they be considered as establishing obligatory standards of giving for today.”
Comment: When Rogers rejects using Abraham and Jacob as examples of pre-law tithing, he rejects the main argument used by pro-tithers that the tithe was an eternal moral principle which has always existed. Yet he frequently quotes those who use that argument to strengthen his other statements. It is highly odd and suspicious to quote those who supposedly disagree with you to support your viewpoint! In doing so Rogers has ejected that last Bible bastion for supporting tithing and has left himself with nothing but his own authority and opinion to re-establishing the imperative (obligation) to tithe.
Again, the “obligatory standards” of tithing-plus will be “established,” not by the Bible, but by Rogers’ own interpretation of it by his own authority.
(63) Num 18:21 “The tithe was necessary because the Levites could not earn their own livelihood and work in the tabernacle at the same time.”
Comment: Though possessing a B. A. from Moody, a Th. M. from Dallas and a D. Min. from New Geneva Theological Seminary, like most tithe-teachers, Rogers reveals a basic misunderstanding of the main purpose of OT tithing principles.
Contrary to what Rogers says, all of the Levites and priests did not work in the Temple at one time. And Temple service was not the only profession they worked in. In reality only 2% of the total workforce of Levites and priests were normally required at the relatively small structure at one time.
Why? There were simple too many Levites and priests. From many texts such as Joshua 20-21, Numbers 24 and 1st Chronicles 6 God’s Word tells us that they lived in permanently-loaned land around 48 Levitical (later 13) cities where they farmed, raised (tithed) animals and learned skills and crafts necessary for maintaining the Temple. In 1st Chronicles, chapters 23 to 26 we are told that (as tithe-recipients) they were also government employees such as treasurers, governors, judges and guards for the king’s own treasury.
Both Levites and priests were early divided by King David into 24 courses, or families, simply because there were too many of them to work at the temple at the same time. And the older qualified ones only worked there one week out of 24 which is about 4%. When the wives and younger children are subtracted there is only 2% at the temple.
Finally Numbers 18:21 is a description, not of the ministering priests, but of their Levite-servants who received the first whole tithe. That is not seen today in any church which expects tithes.
(65) “At the very least the yearly tithing requirement was two tithes amounting to 20 per cent. … In light of this if someone wishes to argue for a giving percentage based on Old Testament tithing laws, to be consistent he must not press for giving a mere 10 per cent but for 20 to 23 per cent.”
Comment: Remember this statement: OT tithes were actually 20-23%. Yet Rogers’ definition for the church is an unscriptural 10% –he disagrees with himself! Rogers is masking his motive for rejecting biblical tithing here. Since no church teaches 20-23% tithing, most tithe-teachers argue that there was only one 10% tithe. Thus Rogers once again disagrees with the pro-tithers he often quotes such as Alcorn, Burkett and Dayton. He disagrees with his main support group!
Try to follow this reasoning. It is confusing. (1) Since true biblical tithing actually required 20-23% as Rogers teaches and (2) since the Bible nowhere commands the church to give a (mere) 10% to the church, then (3) how much should Christians give? –(TRUMPET SOUND)– at least 10%, of course! Huh? Why? Because Rogers says so! I did not say it would make sense but that is the logic Rogers uses!
(65-66) “It is significant that nowhere in the New Testament is the new covenant believer commanded to tithe. In fact there is no text in all of Scripture that commands God’s people to give a mere ten per cent.” [DISHONEST STATEMENT OF DENIAL] See page 62. This is like local anti-tithing anesthetic before the injection of tithing. It is incredible.
Comment: As pointed out earlier, the addition of the word “mere” is important. Rogers is not denying the essence of tithing itself. He merely denies the 20-23% OT level or that Christians should give LESS than 10%.
(66) “… since we are not under the law we are not obligated to pay these (20-23%) tithes.” [DISHONEST DENIAL STATEMENT]
Comment: Rogers means “Christians are not obligated to pay the three OT tithes which add up to between 20-23%. This makes the 10% level Rogers chooses to teach completely arbitrary and his own authority and opinion.
(66) “In light of what I have just written, you may be surprised to learn that —[TRUMPET SOUND]— I believe in using the giving of a tithe as a guideline for leading God’s people into faithful stewardship. I’m convinced that we should start by giving a minimum of 10%. AS WE HAVE SEEN THIS IS NOT A BIBLICAL COMMAND BUT I BELIEVE IT IS A REASONABLE GUIDELINE that will enable us to obey the New Testament principle of proportionate giving as well as the other giving principles we have looked at.” [DISHONEST DENIAL STATEMENT]
Comment: This is without a doubt the most ridiculous statement in the entire book! On the one hand Rogers denies that tithing is a biblical principle, while on the other hand he resurrects it –both in the same paragraph! Amazing!
And what is Rogers’ authority for doing that? Bible texts? No! His own authority? Yes! That is why he says “I believe”; “I’m convinced” and “I believe” –because Rogers is his own final authority!
(66) “Tithing enables proportionate giving.” “I don’t think that the average American who donates just 4 per cent of his income to the church is living up to this standard.”
Comment: What “enables proportionate giving”? Tithing, of course! –the very thing that has been denied as an obligation four times. And now it is suddenly a “standard”! Didn’t Rogers just say “While these examples of tithing are commendable the scriptures do not command us to follow them, nor should they be considered as establishing obligatory standards of giving for today”? All of this ‘hocus pocus’ is really confusing.
Having decreed that ‘Rogers-decreed-tithing’ is the solution to the church’s giving problem (instead of OT tithing or non-existent NT tithing), Rogers will use his definition as a sledge-hammer throughout the remainder of the book. It has taken 66 pages to get here! How appropriate! 66! Behold Rogers is a fallible man!
What exactly makes Rogers’ opinion that “tithing enables appropriate giving” now “this (newly discovered) standard”? Why not 8%, 9%, 11% or even 12%? The point is that the remainder of the book is based only on Rogers’ personal opinion.
(67) “Tithing reflects our stewardship of God’s resources.” “It hardly seems reasonable to give a mere 4 per cent of our income back to the God who owns it all …”
Comment: No texts. There is now no longer the brief preface of “I believe,” “I’m convinced” or even a possible “perhaps” in Rogers’ presentation. Now it is only a plain straight-forward decree that “Tithing reflects our stewardship of God’s resources” without biblical qualification at all. Rogers has reached his goal of winning the argument by quoting himself as the final authority.
Who or what now gives Rogers the authority to set the minimum giving standard at 10% when he has just proven that the OT required 20-23%? If, as he argued, the OT requirement was actually 20-23% then there is no precedent for 10% at all and it is purely speculative.
The pro-tithe teachers like Alcorn argue (incorrectly) that the minimum OT standard of giving for all believers was 10% (although it was only true for farmers and herdsmen inside Israel). They then argue that, since NT standards are higher than OT standards, then Christians should begin their giving levels at 10%. This only makes sense if there were only one tithe which Rogers denies.
However, Rogers cannot use this “higher standard” so popular with pro-tithe teachers because he accepts the “two-or-three tithe” argument. His only solution is to be his own authority.
(67) “Tithing enables sacrificial giving.”
Comment: Again this is a statement of fact based on Rogers own opinion rather than a clear Bible principle. And again I ask, why not 8%, 9%, 11%or even 12%? For many 12% is not sacrificial and for many others 1% or 2% would be a great sacrifice.
(67) “Tithing enables generous giving.” “I’m convinced that giving less than10% to God shows a defective view of biblical stewardship and fails to live up to scriptural principles of giving.”
Comment: Another statement based on Rogers own opinion. “I’m convinced” does not constitute Bible truth.
Tithing does not “enable generous giving” for the very wealthy and later in the book Rogers will encourage them to give more than 10%. In fact an exact percentage could lull the wealthy into complacency and cause them not to give enough. If giving 10% does not strain the wallet of the rich, then it is neither “generous” nor “sacrificial.”
On the other hand commanding the poorest to give 10% in order to be “generous” could mean doing without medication, food, shelter and even death. Ten per cent is arbitrary and wrong.
(68) “People frequently ask whether they should tithe off of their pre-tax, of post-tax, income. The 10 per cent figure is not a biblical rule but a minimum guideline for obeying New Testament principles for giving.” [TITHING DENIAL]
Comment: Rogers keeps denying that he teaches tithing. At this point he is fooling nobody.
If tithing is “not a biblical rule” because Rogers has rejected all arguments using Bible texts, then how can it at the same time be “a minimum guideline for obeying New Testament principles for giving” with even less (than zero) biblical texts to support 10% rather than 20-23%? His logic is extremely twisted.
(68) “Tithing as a minimum starting point.” “Please note. I am saying that we should use tithing as a minimum starting point in determining our giving to the Lord.”
Comment: Again “these standards” are not biblical but Rogers own opinions –he is saying it. If Rogers would merely stop using the words “tithing” and “ten per cent” he would sound much more acceptable.
(68) “If you want to give proportionate to your prosperity as 1 Corinthians 16:2 instructs, you will need to increase the percentage as your income increases. Start with 10 per cent.”
Comment: This is a Rogers-statement rather than biblical statement. Using his own hermeneutic Rogers has absolutely no grounds for saying “Start with 10 per cent.” Again the wealthy who becomes more prosperous might be able to increase their level from 16% to 17% or 22 while the poor who become more prosperous might only be able to increase their proportion from 2% to 3% or 6%. “Start with 10%”is subjective.
(70) “While preaching on stewardship in my church I taught that, while the giving of a tithe is not a biblical command, it is a biblical guideline to use in planning our giving.”[[TITHING DENIAL]]
Comment: Not a very good magic trick. Take it out of one hand and put it back into the other hand.
(70) “I’m convinced that we are so prosperous that if we don’t start by giving a minimum of 10 per cent of our income to the Lord, we can’t possibly be fulfilling New Testament principles of giving.”
Comment: Without any biblical arguments the only thing left to say is “I’m convinced.” “Convinced” by what? God’s Word? NO. Rogers’ own opinion!
(71) Acts 20:35 “Faithful giving promises an emotional reward. You will be happier.”
Comment: True, but the text has absolutely nothing to say about tithing and everything to say about how church elders should give freewill offerings to the needy in their assemblies. Read the context of 20:29-35. “It is better to give than to receive” is addressed to church elders, not church members. Sadly, today there is more giving flowing from the poor to church elders than in the opposite direction as Jesus and Paul taught.
(72) Rogers’ own church “began to tithe.”
Comment: How can this be possible when Rogers has already said six times
from pages 62 to 72 “I do not believe that the new covenant believer is commanded anywhere in the Bible to give 10 per cent of his income to God.”
(73) Rogers yearly challenges his own congregation to “start giving at least 10 per cent of their income to our church.”
Comment: Again with no reason to arbitrarily set that percentage and no precedent since Rogers admits that OT tithing was 20-23%.
(74) Rogers’ congregation said “I feel closer to God since giving 10 per cent.”
Comment: Is this because they gave the precise 10 per cent or because they gave more? Does this mean that the sick and the poor who are financially unable to give 10% cannot draw closer to God?
[74-75 is a discussion of how giving in general makes one closer to God.]
(75-76) “The Bible promises an eternal reward [for giving] — you will be given treasure in heaven.” Mt 6:19-20.
Comment: This legitimate biblical promise is almost forgotten in the book.
Paul realized that God’s blessings are not necessarily financial in this lifetime. Eph. 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
(78) “Guarantee #1: “God will use your level of giving to determine how much he will bless you financially.”
Luke 6:38 ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.’”
Comment: Read the text carefully. It is not describing a situation in which one gets “more” in return than he gives. Rather it is describing a situation in which the giver gets back an amount “equal” to that which he gives! If you give a half-cup of grain away you will receive back a half-cup in blessings from God. However if you give an overflow pressed- down cup of grain away you will receive back an overflow pressed-down blessing from God in return –“with the same measure.” Yet Rogers uses this verse many times to “prove” that the believer will get back “more” money than he gives away!
Rogers makes Luke 6:38 say far more than it really says. Jesus was simply saying that God will repay you in “equal” measure to that which you give. Look at the surrounding verses.
Luke 6:34 ‘And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thank have you? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.’
Neither the lender nor the giver should do so with a thought about what they will get back in return. Yet Rogers focuses on the return with his “guarantee.”
Luke 6:40 ‘The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect (spiritually mature) shall be as his master.’
Jesus never escaped poverty and it is wrong to teach that his disciples have a guaranteed claim against God to escape poverty merely because they give. There are other principles and spiritual gifts involved.
(78) 2 Cor 9:6 But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
[2 Cor 9:7 Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.’]
(78) “In the context Paul is teaching the Corinthians about contributing to the collection for the poor Christians in Jerusalem [[and only that context]].
(78) “He offers the guarantee of financial rewards from God to encourage them to give generously.”
Comment: Not necessarily. The rewards could be spiritual and in heaven. Verse 7 explains verse 6. “According as he purposes in his heart” does not mean “10% because Rod Rogers said so.” There is no percentage stated or implied.
(79) “Let’s look more closely at some of the life-giving truths contained in these two verses (Lk 6:38; 2 Cor 9:6.”
“You set the standard for how much God will bless you financially.”
Comment: Yes, but it is not a dollar-matching system. A poor person who sows $5.00 is actually sowing more “proportionately” than a rich person who sows $10,000 into gospel work. If it is not heart-felt and sacrificial the poor person who sowed $5.00 might reap $5.00 plus $10,000 while the rich person who sows $10,000 might reap $10,000 plus $5.00. That would be God’s justice.
(79-80) Rogers quotes John MacArthur and Charles Spurgeon.
Comment: John MacArthur definitely does not agree with Rogers and there is no proof that Charles H. Spurgeon taught tithing either.
(80) “God always gives you more in return than you gave Him to start with.” (Lk 6:38).
Comment: Again, while this is probably true, only equal repayment is taught in Luke 6:38. (See discussion on page 78.)
(81) Rogers gives a personal testimony of the power of tithing to provide financially. Having been married since 1986 and having always tithed, he said he was blessed when he bought a house in 1992 for $40,000 less than its value.
Comment: Yet on page 85 Rogers describes 1992 as a very bad year. “In 1992 I got cancer and had to have extensive surgery with a seven-day hospital stay and innumerable tests and doctor’s visits. Although the bills drained our savings, we never went into debt.”
Comment: His many years of faithful tithing did not prevent his financial physical and financial setbacks of 1992. (1) He got cancer. (2) He emptied his savings account. (3) And he had an even worse financial setback in 2002 –all while he was faithfully tithing! Where was his financial protection then? These kinds of setbacks also happen to people who are agnostics and atheists.
(81) Guarantee #2: 2 Cor 9:8 ‘And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.’
“God will reward your generous giving with an abundance of money to meet all your financial needs.” 2 Cor 9:8
Comment: Look at this text carefully. “Sufficiency” means “enough.” It does not mean “much more than enough” or “abundance.” It is simply a guarantee that God will give you “enough” to complete the task of giving to the poor.
(82-83) “There are many other places in scripture where God promises to meet all the financial needs of the faithful giver. Here are five of them:
Prov 3:9-10; Prov 11:24-25; Mal 3:10; Mt 6:33; Phil 4:18-19
Comment: You would expect Rogers to quote the top five verses in the entire Bible which prove beyond any doubt that God promises to financially bless the faithful tither. Yet only Malachi 3:1o refers to tithing while the others only refer to faithful giving.
Prov 3:9 Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all your increase:
Prov 3:10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
Comment: These texts are quoted by every pro-tithing teacher I have encountered yet they are only discussing “firstfruits” which are far different from tithes. According to Deuteronomy 26:1-10 firstfruits were only a very small token gift which could be carried by hand in a small basket. And according to Nehemiah 10:35-37 the firstfruits could only be eaten inside the Temple by the course (1 of 24) of priests ministering there for their one-week rotation. On the other hand the first whole tithe went to the Levite servants of the priests and they could eat it anywhere. The Levites, in turn, gave one tenth of their tithe to the priests who could eat it anywhere. Compare Num 18:21-28 with Neh 10:37-39.
Prov 11:24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
Prov 11:25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
Comment: Again this does not prove Rogers’ point about tithing being essential for the church. Neither is it a discussion of how to support NT leaders or pay for buildings. It is a discussion of freewill giving to help the poor.
Mal 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
Comment: Malachi 3:10 is far more complicated than it seems. First, it is only addressed to Old Covenant national Israel who used tithes to pay for its religious system, national holidays, welfare system and even pay salaries of thousands of government politicians.
Since Nehemiah 10:37b tells the ordinary people to take their first tithe to the Levitical cities, and since 10:38-39 describe the Levites and priests bringing up tithes to the Temple, Malachi 3:10 must refer to the dishonest priests of Neh 13:5-10 and Mal 1:6, 13-14; 2:1-2 and 3:2-3 who had been cursed for stealing.
Deut 28:12 The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season …
Deut 28:23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.
Deut 28:24 The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.
Comment: Rogers has broken his pattern of not quoting any tithing texts for the church here in Malachi 3:10. Why? He knows that the blessings and curses of tithing from Malachi 3:10 are identical to those found in Deuteronomy 28 and do not apply to the Church which was never under the Old Covenant. Compare Galatians 3:10-13.
Matt 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
Matt 6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek.) For your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things.
Matt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matt 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Comment: In context Matthew 6:33 is not discussing tithing but rather faith in God’s ability to sustain believers in meeting their everyday basic needs.
Phil 4:16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
Phil 4:17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
Phil 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.
Phil 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Comment: Philippians 4:19 is not a discussion of tithing either. Neither is it a principle which can automatically be claimed by any Christian. It has the context of 4:16-18. Since the Philippi church had supplied Paul’s financial needs, Paul was guaranteeing them [and only them] that God would supply their needs. Those who do not give cannot claim this promise. The focus is again freewill giving and not tithing.
(83) “Obviously God is promising to meet our needs, not to give us luxury cars, expensive mansions, fur coats or private jets.”
Comment: This is true and it is wrong to suggest otherwise.
(85) “In 1992 I got cancer and had to have extensive surgery with a seven-day hospital stay and innumerable tests and doctor’s visits. Although the bills drained our savings, we never went into debt.”
Comment: As mentioned earlier this happened after many years of faithful tithing. Rogers himself is proof-positive beyond a doubt that God does not always financially bless faithful tithers or even faithful givers beyond their very basic needs.
(85) “If you don’t give generously and you get into financial trouble—it’s your problem. But if you give generously and you get into financial trouble —it’s God’s problem.”
Comment: This sounds somewhat sarcastic considering Rogers’ “Qualification #2 on the page 89, Wise Money Management, where he says “If you foolishly continue to run up thousands of dollars of credit card debt while giving generously to your church, God won’t reward your giving.”
(85) “I got very sick after resigning my pastorate early in 2002. I was unable to work even part-time for over a week. I remember praying “God we gave 24 per cent of our income to the church last year, and now we are in terrible need. Lord, you’ve got a problem.”
Comment: This was 10 years after Rogers’ first financial setback in 1992. Perhaps it was not “God’s problem” after all. Perhaps he should not have resigned his church. From his following discussion on page 85 it seems that Rogers wasted his God-given-gifts for quite a period of time and ended up performing a very menial job. He was a desk clerk and part-time cook at a YMCA yet it was “God’s problem” because he reminded God of his 24% tithe and was due some kind of financial recompense. This really sounds bad to me. Was it another failure of the so-called tithing principle that Rogers has invented?
(86) “Guarantee #3: God will reward your generous giving with an abundance of money to give to this work. “ (2 Cor 9:8)
‘And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.’
Comment: See discussion of 9:8 on page 81. Abundant grace provides “all sufficiency” which means “enough.” The text does not say “abundant money.”
(86) “God assures us that not only will He make sure we always have all the money we need, but that we will always have an abundance of money to give away.”
(87) “God blesses the generous giver with an abundance of money, that is, with more money than he needs so that he will have plenty of money to give away to all kinds of needs in God’s work.”
(87) “When we give obediently God gives so much money in our pipes that some of it sticks to us for our own needs and enjoyment.”
Comment: If this is true then how does Rogers explain his own financial setbacks of 1992 and 2002 as described on page 85? He certainly did not “always have an abundance of money to give away.” And again the text itself does not promise “plenty” of money but “enough.”
(88) Qualifying the Promises
“Qualification #l: Right motives.”
Comment: At least Rogers does not say what many tithe-teachers say –that tithing rewards even come to unbelievers because they give away money. Most unbelievers who are wealthy are increased (not blessed by God) because they practice good money management and investment techniques wholly apart from religious principles.
(89) Qualification #2: Wise money management. “If you foolishly continue to run up thousands of dollars of credit card debt while giving generously to your church, God won’t reward your giving.”
Comment: Therefore the sowing and reaping “guarantee” is neither automatic nor all-inclusive. And neither is it linked to a non-existing New Covenant tithing command or one Rogers invents.
(89) Qualification #3: Common Sense
2 Cor 8:12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man has and not according to that he has not.
2 Cor 8:13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and you burdened:
2 Cor 8:14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
2 Cor 8:15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
(89) 2 Cor 8:13-14; “God wants us to give so that no one is rich while others remain in abject poverty.”
Comment: These are the most revealing texts in all the Bible that describe Christian giving but Rogers gives them only two short paragraphs. The texts reveal far more about grace giving than he allows.
God does not desire the rich to pay all of the church support. And neither does he want the poor to give and do without basic necessities.
The solution and best pattern for grace giving is called “equality giving” and that does not mean (as some teach) that everybody should give the same percentage! If everybody gave sacrificially until it hurts, then the rich would naturally keep giving far past the imaginary 10% level while the poor would stop giving long before they even reached the imaginary 10% level.
“Equality” is reached in verse 15 “He who gathered much [from God] did not have too much [after giving to others], and he who gathered little [from God] did not have too little [after giving to others].” It is totally absurd to even attempt to say these texts are describing tithing where everybody gives the same percentage!
(91) A pastor should tithe to his church and let everybody know that you tithe.
Comment: Again how can Rogers honestly say this when he said on page 62 “I do not believe that the new covenant believer is commanded anywhere in the Bible to give 10 per cent of his income to God”? If the pastor wants to tell his congregation how much money he gives back to the church that is his business. But he should not call it “tithing” after he has denied that tithing is a legitimate doctrine for Christians!!
(92) “In light of this [that preachers should tithe] we need to remember that, under the law, full-time religious workers, the Levites, were required to tithe (Num 18:25-28) and that God requires ‘each on’ of us to give (1 Cor 16:2). …” Quotes John MacArthur.
Comments: There are two errors in the preceding statement by Rogers. Both usually come as a shock to those who have not really studied this subject in much depth.
First, under the law the first whole tithe did NOT go to “full-time” religious workers. Rather it only went to the Levites who were the SERVANTS to the priest and to the king! Those Levites did not minister the blood of atonement. Study Numbers 3 and First Chronicles 23 – 26. The Levites who received the tithe in Numbers 18:21-24 and Nehemiah 10:37b lived in 48 (later 13) Levitical cities and functioned as soldiers, guards, choir members, musicians, bakers, craftsmen of all sorts and the king’s employees such as treasurers, judges and rulers. And, contrary to what Rogers said the Levite-servants paid a tithe of their tithe to the priests but the priests were not commanded to tithe (Num 18:25-29; Neh 10:38).
Second, even those who did work in the temple were NOT “full-time” religious workers. There were 24 courses or families or Levites and priests. They normally only served in the temple once every 24 weeks or 4% of the time. The remainder of the time was spend in their Levitical cities farming, raising (tithed) animals, learning temple-building and repair skills, and serving the king as his politicians. That is in the Bible and they received the tithes. There is no continuity in the Church today.
(93) “I challenge you to give at least 10 per cent to your own church …”
Comment: On what grounds? Rogers has denied all biblical grounds numerous times. The only ground left is his own opinion and authority.
(97) “Do preach the word with divine authority.”
Comment: Yes, yes, yes. And this does not include the authority of Rod Rogers to make his own decrees and re-define “tithe.” It only allows Holy Spirit-taught freewill giving principles.
(98) “Don’t let a critic or two discourage you. They aren’t giving or they wouldn’t be critical. If you throw a stick into a pack of dogs the one that gets hit howls the loudest.”
Comment: This is nasty and judgmental. In context Rogers means “they aren’t giving A TITHE or they wouldn’t be critical.” I suppose he would say that none of the great expositors and preachers who disagree such as Martin Luther were and are enemies of his own interpretation.
(117-118) “The key to leading your people into obedient 10 per cent giving is to ask them to sign a written commitment to give 10 per cent or more to your church using a 90-day money-back ‘God’s guarantee’ commitment card.”
Comment: I cannot imagine Jesus or Paul teaching a “money-back” guarantee. Now the compulsion and pressure part of the book begin. Don’t forget Rogers conclusion on page 66 after admitting that tithing is nowhere taught to the church. “In light of what I have just written, you may be surprised to learn that I believe in using the giving of a tithe as a guideline for leading God’s people into faithful stewardship. I’m convinced that we should start by giving a minimum of 10%. AS WE HAVE SEEN THIS IS NOT A BIBLICAL COMMAND BUT I BELIEVE IT IS A REASONABLE GUIDELINE that will enable us to obey the New Testament principle of proportionate giving as well as the other giving principles we have looked at.”
(118) “Using the 10 per cent commitment card is crucial to your annual stewardship series …”
Comment: It is crucial to the compulsion and manipulation phase of enacting Rogers’ own conclusions. He did just say “Do preach the word with divine authority” but gives no Bible texts to support his claims that it is “crucial” to get members to commit to 10%. It is a totally arbitrary starting point.
(119) “Since they do not want to disappoint you their signature on the card provides a non-threatening level of accountability that encourages them to keep their commitment.”
Comment: Sympathy is merely another form of compulsion. In other words, the church members will want to tithe –not because the Bible teaches it—but because they do not want to disappoint the preacher!
(121-122) Money-back guarantee commitment cards.
(122) God’s Guarantee; 10% challenge.
Comment: This is strange. Rogers challenges church members to do something that he has repeatedly stated was unscriptural since page 62.
(125) “Why do I ask people to increase their giving to at least 10% immediately? Because the gradual approach takes years to reach the 10% minimum starting point. This delays full obedience to God’s commands to give generously, sacrificially and proportionately.”
Comment: (1) He does not say “because the Bible teaches tithing.” (2) He himself is the one who determined and decreed that the minimum starting point is 10%. (3) It is not tithing which is “God’s commands” but it is Rogers’ own authority and opinion that only tithing fulfills God’s command for Christians to give generously, sacrificially and proportionately. (4) In reality a percentage higher than 10% might be more appropriate for the wealthy while a percentage lower than 10% might be a better percentage for the poor.
(127-128) Getting commitments from absentees:
“Last week I gave a message from God’s Word that, if responded to, will transform your spiritual and financial life.”
Comment: It was not from God’s Word if it asks all Christians to begin their giving level at 10%.
(141) Rogers quotes Alcorn once more even though Alcorn fundamentally disagrees with his approach but reaches the same false conclusion.
(149) “The best time to ask people for a commitment is at the beginning of their relationship with your church. People are wide open to bold stewardship teaching and giving challenges when they first come to your church because they are excited about it.”
Comment: Why? New members are more trusting and do not suspect that they are being manipulated.
(151) NEW MEMBER CLASS: “To fulfill New Testament principles we should start by giving a minimum of 10 per cent of our income to the Lord.”
Comment: This is an outright lie based on Rogers’ own authority.
(163) “Check (church leaders) giving records –if the pastor is not allowed to see these himself, the treasurer can at least let him know whether or not all of the key church leaders are giving at the 10 per cent level. The pastor can then challenge his leaders to begin giving obediently.”
Comment: Now he says that “if church leaders are not tithing they are not giving obediently. Yet Rogers’ view of tithing is based on what he is personally “convinced” is right even thought he uses no scriptures to reach such conclusion. In reality they are not “obedient” to his opinion.
This is more intimidation than a challenge. The Bible does not teach that only the affluent and financially secure are qualified to be church leaders. Spiritual gifts reside among all church members including those who have oppressive medical bills and cannot afford to tithe and pay for medicine and food at the same time.
James, chapter two, denounces churches who give the leadership positions only to the financially secure. It is the sin of respecting persons. And from the looks of those in leadership positions in most of our churches today, the gifted poor are usually left out of spiritual leadership positions.
(163) “Encourage each leader to give at least a tithe and to support your new approach to leadership.”
Comment: Not because it is biblical because it is not, but because it is the pastor’s “new approach.”
(163) “When dealing with people already in leadership positions explain your new approach to stewardship and ask them to prayerfully consider making a 10 per cent commitment as they listen to your stewardship series.”
Comment: Again, not because it is biblical but because it is the pastor’s “new approach.”
(163-164) “After your series, talk with those leaders who did not take the 10 per cent challenge to find out where they are with the concept and, if necessary, to discuss their unique financial circumstances.”
Comment: In other words, put pressure on them to agree with your decree that all must tithe even though it is not taught in God’s Word.
(164) “Some [balking leaders] may want and plan to give 10 per cent, but will need some time to work up to it. Eventually you will need to give each current leader a grace period (perhaps for one year) in which to increase his giving to ten per cent. What you most need from your leaders are the right attitudes and commitments.”
Comment: The very clear “or else” is missing even though it is clear that Rogers wants those who disagree to be removed from office. James two reborn.
(164) “In the future when placing anyone new into leadership, you must ask for their participation in your church’s commitment to 10 per cent giving.”
Comment: In other words do not place yourself in a position of having to remove non-tithing leaders again. Most churches add tithing to those requirements found in Titus and Timothy and make it church law even though it is contrary to God’s Word.
(165) Tithing testimonies from members.
Comment: Rogers implies that mind-control is more effective than preaching divine truth.
Rogers is a theological freak when it comes to tithing.
(1) Like those who oppose tithing Rogers says many times that the Bible nowhere commands Christians to tithe.
(2) Like those who oppose tithing Rogers agrees that the Old Covenant tithe was really between 20-23%.
(3) Like those who promote tithing Rogers teaches that all Christians should begin their minimum giving level at 10%.
(4) Like those who promote tithing Rogers defines the tithe as increase of income.
(5) Unlike those who oppose tithing and those who promote tithing Rogers teaches tithing using only his own authority to justify his conclusions.
(6) This allows Rogers to quote leaders of both viewpoints with impunity although he both agrees with and disagrees with both viewpoints.
Rogers really is a theological freak.
Written by Russell Earl Kelly, PH.D.; author of Should the Church Teach Tithing? A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine.
The Truth about the Tithe
By Rod Rogers Copyright 2006.
Rebuttal by Russell Earl Kelly
Rod Rogers: I don’t believe that the new covenant believer is commanded anywhere in the Bible to give ten percent of his income to God. If, having read this article, you still believe the Bible specifically commands us to tithe, then you should practice and teach it. God will bless you and your church as result. However, I invite you to consider the following summary of the biblical teaching on tithing.
Russ Kelly: You give the impression that you are not going to resurrect tithing in the following discussion. This is dishonest because you do resurrect it as a “minimum guideline” to be exceeded in your final paragraph. This is cruel to the sick and poor and dishonest.
Rod Rogers: Tithing In the Old Testament
Before the establishment of the Mosaic Law there are only two examples of the giving of a tenth. Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils he won in battle (Gen. 14:18-20; Heb. 7:4) and Jacob vowed to a give God a tenth of all he owned if God would protect him from his angry brother (Gen. 28:22). While these examples of tithing are commendable, the Scriptures do not command us to follow them, nor should they be considered as establishing obligatory standards of giving for today. Dr. Charles Ryrie, with his trademark logical clarity, explains:
The fact that something was done before the law which was later incorporated into the law does not necessarily make that thing a good example for today, especially if the New Testament gives further guidance on the matter. Not even the most ardent tither would say that the Sabbath should be observed today because it was observed before the law (Exodus 16:23-36), yet this is the very reasoning used in promoting tithing today. The New Testament teaches us about a new day of worship, and it also gives us new directions for giving.1
Russ Kelly: The above statement is pure hypocrisy when compared to Rogers’ last statement: “I’m convinced that American Christians are so prosperous that if we don’t start by giving a minimum of ten percent of our income to the Lord, we can’t possibly be fulfilling New Testament principles of giving.” YOU STILL TEACH TITHING PLUS!!!
Rod Rogers: When the Mosaic Law was instituted, Israel was commanded to give three different tithes averaging twenty to twenty-three percent per year.2
Russ Kelly: I agree, but Charles Ryrie “with his trademark logical clarity” only teaches 20% in his Study Bible.
Rod Rogers: Levitical Tithe: The first was a Levitical tithe in which ten percent of everything earned or grown was required to support the Levites and priests as they served in the tabernacle.
Russ Kelly: The Bible does not say that the tithe was ten percent of everything “earned.” There are 15 texts in God’s Word which describe the CONTENT of tithes and it is always only food from inside the holy land of national Israel. The tithe was “increase” from God’s hand and not from man’s hand or man’s skill. Although money was an essential item for daily life and worship, money from man’s skills was never included in any definition of tithes. See my book, pages 9-10.
Rod Rogers: [Levitical tithe:] “And to the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting (Num. 18:21). It is also extremely important to realize that the Levites who received the first whole tithe were NOT the priests but only servants for them. The Levites in turn only gave 1% (a tenth of their tenth) to the priests. See Num 18:21-29; Neh 10:35-38.
Russ Kelly: Rogers omits two very important facts. (1) The “sons of Levi” in the context of Numbers 18:21-24 only refers to the Levite SERVANTS of the priests. In other words the first whole tithe went to the servant-workers of the sanctuary and not to the priests. These Levites later included government employees. (2) “For an inheritance refers to the unquoted Numbers 18:20. Those who received tithes were not allowed to own or inherit land in Israel.
Rod Rogers: [Levitical tithe:] This tithe was necessary because the Levites could not earn their own livelihood and work in the tabernacle at the same time. It was used to support the national priestly program.3
Russ Kelly: This is a mostly-false statement and very common false assumption. It totally ignores the Levitical cities, the skills needed by Levites and priests and the rotation of Levites and priests.
(1) Both Levites and priests lived on permanently-loaned land surrounding 48 (and later 13) Levitical cites where they farmed and raised animals donated through tithing and other offerings. See my chapters 6, 11 and 12, Numbers 25, Joshua 20-21 and First Chronicles 6.
(2) Levites and priests were also highly skilled artisans responsible for maintaining the Temple. Common sense says they had to learn those trade skills by working when they were not at the Temple. See my chapter 10 and all of 1st Chronicles 23 to 26.
(3) Since there were far too many Levites and priests to serve in the Temple they were divided into 24 courses and rotated one week at a time. Many of them served as political employees of the king. See my chapter 10 and 12 for texts.
Since they only worked in the Temple one week out of 24, the tithe was not given to them because they did not work any other job. The Bible does not teach that. Rather it was given to them in exchange for their disqualification to own and inherit land in Israel.
Festival Tithe: The second annual tithe required was a festival tithe in which ten percent of the remaining nine-tenths of one’s income was to be set apart and eaten at the yearly religious festivals in Jerusalem.
You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. And you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the first-born of your herd and your flock, in order that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always (Deut. 14:22-23).
This tithe was used to fund the national religious program.4
Russ Kelly: Again the tithe was never food and the text quoted proves that. It could be turned into money to lighten the load of carrying food, but it was not money. While the first whole Levitical tithe was brought by the people directly to the Levitical cities (Neh 10:37b), the festival tithe was eaten by all of the people including Gentile strangers in the streets of Jerusalem. It fed worshippers at the three required religious festivals.
Rod Rogers: Welfare Tithe: The third tithe the law demanded was a welfare tithe in which, every third year, the second tithe, the festival tithe, was not taken to Jerusalem, but was kept at home to feed the Levites and the poor. This tithe was used to fund the national welfare program.
“At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do (Deut. 14:28, 29).
Russ Kelly: Once again the text describes the CONTENT of the tithe as “produce.” The people were not told to store “money” for the poor and needy.
Rod Rogers: [Welfare Tithe:] Some scholars think this poor tithe was actually a third tithe required every three years. If so, it would average three and one-third percent per year and the average annual tithe required from an Israelite would be close to twenty-three percent each year! At the very least the yearly tithing requirement was two tithes amounting to twenty percent.5
Russ Kelly: “Some scholars” includes myself, Josephus, James Orr and many more than “some.” Although irrelevant in the total picture, if the third tithe were actually a substitute for the second tithe every third year, there would be no food for the millions of pilgrims during the feasts.
Rod Rogers: [Welfare Tithe:] In light of this, if someone wishes to argue for a percentage based on the Old Testament tithing laws, to be consistent he must not press for giving a mere ten percent, but for twenty to twenty-three percent.6 When I taught this to my congregation I always assured them that while we believed their interpretation was faulty, if they insisted on giving according to the Mosaic law of tithing they must give not ten, but at least twenty percent—and we would be happy to receive it!
Russ Kelly: This is the best statement found in the article. I fully agree.
Rod Rogers: Tithing in the New Testament
When studying the concept of tithing in the New Testament you discover that the word is used only eight times, in the gospels and in the letter to the Hebrews. In the gospels it is used in connection with the tithing of the Pharisees who were fulfilling their obligation to the old covenant, codified in the Mosaic law, which had not yet been abrogated by the death of Christ (Matt. 23:23, Lk. 11:42; 18:12).
Russ Kelly: In the three instances above where Jesus used the word “tithe” he was condemning tithers who were hypocrites in the way they used the Law for their own benefit. Jesus told his Jewish disciples in Matthew 23 to obey the scribes because they “sit in Moses’ seat.” Most of the time Jesus was satisfied with giving to the poor –as in Matthew 19:21 and Luke 19:8. In Luke 18:41 giving to cleanses eases the conscience.
Rod Rogers: In the book of Hebrews tithing is mentioned in the discussion about Abraham’s having paid tithes to Melchizedek (Heb. 7:5-9). It is significant that nowhere in the New Testament is the new covenant believer commanded to tithe. As a matter of fact, there is no text in all of Scripture that commands God’s people to give a mere ten percent to God!
Russ Kelly: You betray your intentions by using the word “mere.” Be honest. There is no text in all of Scripture that commands God’s people to give ANY percentage!!! And you know that.
Rod Rogers: Tithing in Your Church
In light of what I’ve just written, you will probably be surprised to learn that I still believe in using the giving of a tithe as a guideline in leading God’s people into faithful stewardship.
Russ Kelly: In other words, “Who cares what the church is taught? Everything I’ve said up to this point is worthless.”
I am not surprised at all. Your subtle written “body language” revealed your final intentions.
You make the great false assumption used to promote the tithing lie that tithing was a “guideline,” or as many say, a “minimum beginning point” of giving in the OT. In reality that was only true of farmers an herdsmen because the tithe never came from income produced (or increased) by man’s skills. Those who were not farmers or herdsmen were NEVER qualified as tithe-payers thus your statement is false. They only gave freewill offerings which included money.
Rod Rogers: When preaching on stewardship in my church I taught that, while the giving of a tithe is not a biblical command, it is a helpful guideline to use in planning our giving. I showed them what the New Testament had to say about generous, sacrificial, and proportionate giving.
Russ Kelly: While saying you do not want to put people on a guilt-trip if they have to buy medicine and food and cannot afford to tithe, you subtly do it anyway! That is dishonest and cruel.
Rod Rogers: I then told my people, “I’m convinced that American Christians are so prosperous that if we don’t start by giving a minimum of ten percent of our income to the Lord, we can’t possibly be fulfilling New Testament principles of giving.”
Russ Kelly: If this applies to all Christians it is a lie and you know it. I would agree with you if you would word it without an inference to tithing. Paul did not see fit to compare it to tithing in 2nd Corinthians 8:12-14. Why do you?
Rod Rogers: It made sense to them.
Russ Kelly: Magic trick. Take it out of one hand and put it back into the other one.
Rod Rogers: Their giving soared, their personal finances improved, their faith grew, their joy expanded, and our offerings increased by 32% in one year!
Russ Kelly: Does that prove that you are right? How much did the giving increase when Tetzel began selling indulgences? The end does not necessarily justify the means.
Many modern churches also prosper financially because they put on country music and rock shows, water down the gospel and entertain instead of preaching the gospel.
Experiment! Preach and teach the same identical message without even mentioning tithing. Your church are blessed because they give from better New Covenant principles. Its members see souls lost and on their way to hell and want to give because they love the Lord and love lost souls.
Rod Rogers: Could you use a 32% increase in your offerings next year?
Russ Kelly: Of course, but I want to be completely honest with God’s Word and God’s people. According to Hebrews 7:5, 12, 18, 19 the tithing statute and every principle which supported the Levitical priesthood has been annulled because of the better promises better provisions of the new covenant.
1 Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. Balancing the Christian Life. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1969.
2 Allis, Oswald T. God Spake By Moses. Nutley, NJ: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1951, p. 143.
3 Orr, James., ed. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Vol. 5, s.v. “Tithe”. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1939, p. 2987.
4 Unger, Merrill F. “Tithe.” Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1957, p. 1103.
5 Allis, Ibid., p. 143; Friesen, Gary. Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View. Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1980, p. 357; Orr, Ibid., p. 2988; Unger, Ibid. p. 1103; Ryrie, Ibid., p. 89.
6 MacArthur, John. Giving: God’s Way. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1978, pp. 63,64.
Copyright © 2004 by Rod Rogers. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to share the contents of this article in whole or in part if copyright and attribution are always included. [Rogers is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary.]
Russ Kelly is the author of Should the Church Teach Tithing? A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine. His web site offers a FREE 288 page downloadable book and a FREE 2 hour DVD on the subject. He preaches for free.
You are invited to share my comments also. Rod Rogers comes nearest to my idea of New Covenant giving than any other major promoter. I would certainly like to see him re-word his article and book to eliminate any reference to tithing for the church