Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The evil of the Tithe

The TV Envangelists will always preach about 'the tithe'. The tithe has its origins in the Old Testament; Abraham giving 10% of his possessions to the priest Melchizedek became the precursor to the tithe being established under the Law of Moses. Interestingly although firmly established within the Old Testament there is no Biblical evidence that the culture of tithing continued within the early Christian communities. In contrast the early Church encouraged freewill giving whereby memebers of the community made offerings of money or goods depending upon their own conscience. As tithing was only a requirement found in the Old Testament, some consider it to be a practice that has no place in modern Christianity. Others, such as Word of Faith advocates, espouse that tithing, which is inspired in the individual by God, will enable blessings, usually financial, with references to ten or hundredfold increases. This unfortunately is the message which many vulnerable people have preached at them in Sub Saharan Africa. Whilst the mainline churches encourage their faithful to give as they can afford the Evangelical/Pentecostal 'churches' rigidly enforce the culture of the tithe. Not only do the Pastors of the churches preach that those who tithe will be blessed but they also warn those who do not tithe that they will be cursed by God!

Whilst some might argue that this matter is one of differing theologies (if one accepts that their is any theology underpinning those who preach the prosperity gospel) others see it as the ruthless exploitation of the most vulnerable people in the world. It is no wonder that there are literally thousands of self professed Pastors across Sub Saharan Africa. It can be a very prosporous way of life. Afterall the Pastor is taking 10% of the gross income of all members of their church - regardless of the persons ability to pay. I cannot help but be cynical when I see the Pastors fighting over potential members of their churches. Are they interested in saving souls or profits? I wonder!

1 comment:

amelia-albertine said...

It's not just sub-Saharan Africa that has churches pushing the convenient (unbiblical) tithing 'doctrine'. A family friend of mine who belonged to my old church was not allowed to be on the leadership team, because she did not 'tithe'. (She happened to choose to 'give' 20% of her income to the church. But she would not call it tithing, because while the 'giving' concept is biblical, the rigid 'tithing' concept is not).

Our version of 'tithing' is very different from the tithing that actually took place in the Old Testament, too. Back then, All tithes went to the poor. Now it seems almost all tithed (and given) money is used on running the church programmes and paying ministers.