But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. - 1Samuel 15: 22 (NIV)
I was doing research the other day and while writing a different devotional I wondered how Joseph Prince teaches on giving. How does the man who discards the law from the lives of believers deal with the obvious conflict with tithing? My assumption was that he would simply admit tithing was law and therefore not applicable but teach some hybrid New Testament version. Boy was I wrong.
The above link is to Pastor Prince's church. What was interesting at first is that this entire sermon on tithing is offered free of charge. Usually Prince releases a ten minute snippet of a sermon to entice people to pay $30-$40 for the whole series. Not when it comes to giving him money though. The five million dollar man posts the entire sermon on tithing for all to listen to. After listening to this massive Bible mangling, I wish he had just posted a ten minute snippet. Let us begin to deconstruct the unbiblical arguments put forth in this sermon.
Prince begins his sermon by insisting that it is not from him but directly from God. This is a typical staple from Prince and other false teachers. God speaks directly to them and gives them the false teaching they are about to embark on. Not only does he claim "a clear mandate from heaven" about this direct revelation but he insists God specifically told him to give the message on a Sunday as opposed to a Wednesday and that he "tried to get out of it" but the Lord "arrested" him on the matter. Message? If you do not like the fact that I am about to tell you that you have to tithe, take it up with God! Prince starts as most false tithing lessons start, in Malachi:
Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, 'How have we robbed you?' In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. - Malachi 3: 8-11 (ESV)
Prince lays the groundwork with a whopper of a lie. He asks who was Malachi talking to? God's people is given as the answer. The problem of course is this is untrue. The Prophet Malachi is speaking to the priests, not the people:
"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, 'How have we despised your name?' - Malachi 1: 6 (ESV)
Yes this is chapter one but we must remember that this was one fluid document when Malachi wrote it. He addressed it to the priests, not the people. It was the priests who were robbing God of His tithes. To this Prince declares that tithing is one of the reasons Christians are so broke. I do not wish to go into length here about the abuses of Malachi because they have been documented in detail already on my website. Instead, let us go through Prince's other arguments and Bible twists:
1) Genesis 3 and 4 - One of the foundational arguments Prince makes is that our money is already cursed due to Adam. That the act of tithing actually redeems this curse. The problem he tries to avoid of course is this is in direct contradiction to his grace teaching that says God will never do anything punitive towards us. He tries to sidestep it by offering up these verses:
And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; - Genesis 3: 17 (ESV)
And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. - Genesis 4: 11 (ESV)
The first verse is from the fall and the second is from Cain murdering Abel. In both Prince teaches that it not God who cursed them. He did not say - Adam I curse you. Instead he teaches that it is the ground that is now cursed because of their actions. He has to teach this to essentially take God off the hook for this curse still being operational today, even though Jesus became a curse for us. The argument is scripturally ludicrous however. Is Prince actually teaching that God had nothing to do with these curses? Even if that were so, it certainly was in His permissive will to allow it, no? God is ultimately sovereign and in complete control of His creation. This destroys his talking point here that God never curses - He only blesses. Prince sets this argument up however to claim that because money comes from paper and paper from trees, then it technically comes from the ground and is thus cursed, but of course not from God! Oh no, Prince-ology says that God wants to take our cursed money and make it holy through tithing. I kid you not.
2) Romans 11 - Next Prince ventures into Romans where he does a little magic trick for us. A scriptural sleight of hand if you will. He offers up this verse:
If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. - Romans 11: 16 (ESV)