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January 23, 2019
Tithing Teaching by Sound Bite - Sermon Review Request from Reader
By Anthony Wade
At the request of a reader, we delve into a sermon review on tithing and how the bible is manipulated throughout it...
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you." -- Genesis 28:20-22 (ESV)
The teaching of tithing is about control. It is about greed. It simply is about money. Those that still traffic in this unbiblical teaching insist it is about giving, providing an opportunity for blessing or defeating imaginary spirits such as poverty and scarcity. The shtick is pretty straight forward. You boast about how your church doesn't need the money, lay out Scriptures that do not apply to the body of Christ, transpose the word "storehouse" for the local church and accuse the sheep of robbing God. I can debunk any tithing argument in my sleep because the bible simply does not support it and possibly because I have written a book on debunking these arguments. The above link was to a teaching sent in to me by a reader, who asked me to review the sermon after she had read my book. So let us reason together again beloved as we try and sift through the unbiblical nature of tithing.
This sermon starts with the usual foreground of popular tithing teaching today. That we suffer from something called a "scarcity mindset"; which I have heard taught by the likes of Kris Vallotton as a "poverty mindset." The meaning is essentially the same. That we do not notice how rich we really are. That if we compare ourselves to the impoverished world, we are actually in the top 1%. While statistically true, it ignores the context of where we actually live. Since these folks specialize in ignoring context, this is of little surprise. The person who lives paycheck to paycheck does not suffer from a poverty mindset because she does not tithe correctly but because she lives in a country that encourages either super wealth or the working poor. Is it better than a third world country? Of course it is but to blame surviving on the survivor is beyond unseemly.
Pastor Eugene Smith concludes there are two reasons why we do not tithe. The first being this scarcity mindset where we are granted provision by God, then we consume, then we perceive lack and then we fear, causing us to not give (tithe). The way to break this in his mind is to give despite the perceived lack. The problem of course is the lack is not a mere perception but a reality. Notable tithing whore, Robert Morris does not care and teaches that you must give him 10% BEFORE paying anything else. Electricity, heat, medical bills -- anything. There is a judgment awaiting Mr. Morris and all those who fleece God's flock for personal gain.
The second reason given is what Smith refers to as the "abundance craze." This is apparently the notion that we have too much stuff and should give him 10% of our money first. Within his rationale here he actually said that the average person in this country is $65,000 in debt because they want stuff. Not only is the arrogance staggering in this statement but the actual average debt according to the United States Federal Reserve is $5,700. Most people get into debt because of unforeseen circumstances like medical issues. To simply conclude that we are essentially too greedy for "stuff" is beyond insulting. Smith also offered up this gem:
"When you're doing His will it's always His bill." -- Eugene Smith
Yeah; no. This type of sound bite sermonizing has to stop because people easily remember these unbiblical teachings. What is Smith essentially teaching here? That if you give his church your first ten percent of income, then God must meet all your bills. That is absurd. I often tell the story about the man who posted on Joel Osteen's Facebook page that the Sherriff was going to padlock his house the following week. He was genuinely confused because he said he had always followed Osteen's positive confession teachings and tithed faithfully. The answers from the Osteenites were frightening. Imploring the man to have more faith and speak the resolution into existence. You cannot make stupid promises for God, which He never said, just because you want more money in your church coffers. Smith then has the gall to cite the actual verse that shows the theology of New Testament giving:
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. -- 2Corinthians 9:6-7 (ESV)
What is God teaching here? We cannot give under compulsion. What is the entire premise of tithing? Giving under compulsion. Eugene Smith eviscerates his own teaching by correctly citing these verses. Instead of realizing this however he comes out with another stupid sound bite:
"Tithing breaks the cycle of scarcity and creates a new cycle of supply." -- Eugene Smith
Yes nothing breaks the cycle of not having enough then giving what you have away. Now, there is a universal principle of sowing and reaping displayed in the verses from 2Corinthians. However, this speaks to having a generous nature in general -- not necessarily to the church. It also speaks to being a miser and constantly worrying about money. One who tends to hoard their money will tend to lack and one who gives freely will tend to abundance. THAT is a great principle to teach because it ties in with so much biblical teaching against the evil of loving money. Tithing however does no such thing that Smith promises. How do I know? Because tithing does not exist. It has been nailed to the cross according to Colossians 2. If you read Galatians 6 you will realize that insisting on tithing, as with circumcision, renders Christ useless to you. Smith recklessly lies for God here and says if you give Him your first ten percent that you will no longer experience scarcity and that is a false teaching that can wreck someone's faith when "God" does not deliver.
Smith now gets into some sermon points and continues to mangle the bible in order to prop up his false premise that tithing is still required. In his first section called "What Is Tithing", he cites Genesis 28:20-22 and the graphic behind him cites this as, ""the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you." He then claims that Abram modeled tithing so Jacob "learned from his grandfather the importance of tithing." All of these would be convincing arguments if they were true; which they are not. Abram tithed one time in his life that we are aware of. That is it; once. His motivation was not the advancement of the word of God but rather to prevent a pagan king from being able to claim that he prospered Abram when it was God who did so. He also did not tithe ten percent but 100% and none of it came from his own money but rather from the spoils of a successful war. To claim this "modeled tithing" is beyond ridiculous. The more insidious claim by Smith however is in regard to Jacob. Do you see the three little dots before his verses? That is called an ellipsis and it denotes that there is something before the quote. Something Eugene Smith left out. The key verses today represent the actual verses in their entirety and this is the portion Smith omitted:
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace
The bible never says if Jacob ever tithed. These verses are Jacob, who was still known as the deceiver at this point, making a deal with God. If God does all of these things for Jacob, he swears he will give back a tenth of what God gives him. Nowhere does it say that he will tithe regularly. This is a prid-quo-pro agreement Jacob is praying for. You give me xyz and I will give back a tenth and there is no indication either way if he ever even followed through on it.
The next section is "Why We Tithe" and here Smith claims that the first reason is that it teaches us to put God first and offers up Deuteronomy 14:23 as his proof text. He uses the Living Bible though because it says "put God first" instead of "fear the Lord." Either way he oblivious to the fact that Deuteronomy 14 is the heart of the civil law given to Israel which Christ came to earth to redeem us from. The very section Smith cites is immediately preceded by the prohibitions against unclean food. We are under grace now. Not the law. That is the entire point. As Christians we are still bound by the moral law, which is reiterated in the New Testament but delivered from the civil and ceremonial law that solely belonged to Israel. This is the beauty of debunking tithing heretics. Eventually they have to turn to the bible to try and appear credible and the bible tears their arguments apart.
The second reason given for why we tithe is that it is an expression of love and worship. I take no issue with this as general premise that speaks to giving. I am not against giving beloved. I have always said that if you are in a gospel centric church it is the best investment for your money. I am against beating the sheep into submission by enforcing laws that do not apply to them and setting them up for losing their faith by imagining promises God never made. Smith cannot leave well enough alone here as he uncorks another trite sound bite:
When God touches your heart you pocketbook always gets saved." -- Eugene Smith
There simply appears to be no depth he is not willing to sink to in order to get your money. He is saving his lowest for last and that is always the Malachi card. Smith plays it here by claiming the third reason why we tithe is to keep from being a thief! Yes you read that right. Now Smith has declared if you are not tithing you are in fact a thief. He of course abuses Malachi 3:8-10 for this point:
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. -- Malachi 3:8-10 (ESV)
One of the most abused set of verses in all of Scripture, Malachi chapter three was not written to or for the church. Perhaps if Smith ever bothered to read the entire book he would see that this letter was not even written to the people in the days of Malachi. It was in fact written to the priests. Smith claims that the people were giving haphazardly -- giving God their leftovers, which is a common theme amongst tithing teachers. This is simply untrue. If we cross reference Malachi with Nehemiah, we can gain some interesting narrative to support what Malachi was complaining about. This is Nehemiah speaking after returning from a trip back to Babylon only to discover the "robbing of God"
I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field. So I confronted the officials and said, "Why is the house of God forsaken?" And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. -- Nehemiah 13: 10-12 (ESV)
The people were tithing but the leadership was not apportioning out to the Levites what they deserved. They also were allowing a pagan to live in the temple. Nehemiah came back and cleaned house putting God's house in order. Anytime you hear someone preaching from Malachi about tithing you can rest assured they are twisting the scripture. We are not Israel beloved. The tithe and offering system was set up specifically to provide for the Levites. The tithing teacher does not want you to know that because it would set you free from the bondage of compulsory giving. Having reached bottom, Smith now starts to dig with his final point that tithing gives God and opportunity to prove He exists and wants to bless you.
Yes, in the depraved mind of Eugene Smith and tithing teachers everywhere, God needs our assistance to provide Him with an opportunity to prove He even exists. Not exactly a powerful God he is selling. He cannot even bless you unless you allow Him to apparently. When you boil everything down to money you cheapen God. His existence is testified to by the very planet. This last teaching point also reveals one of the more disgusting aspects of tithing teaching. It reduces God to a transactional being. That if we give money; then He will bless us. Calvary is the ultimate blessing and it required no down payment. Not to mention that when you apply this as general principle when it is not you set people up to doubt God. Remember the story of the man facing the padlock of his house? He was taught that blessing is a result of tithing so he tithed. Then he lost his house. God only knows what was left of his faith.
Never assume there are no victims from false teaching. Their blood screams out from the ground against the very false teachers that lead them down the broad path to destruction. It doesn't matter how many cute sound bites you come up with. Eugene Smith is not special. He is just one in a plethora of pastors who beat their sheep into submission and according to Galatians 6 yoke them back to the law in doing so. Give cheerfully beloved to any true work of the Gospel but do not do so because a teacher called you a thief or promised you some nebulous return of "blessings." Count what God has done and give. Give not because some snake oil salesman has butchered the bible to pretend what God will give you if you do.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- January 23, 2019