It was a surprising admission from one of the church’s more popular televangelists, Creflo Dollar, when he publically stated that he was wrong about tithing earlier this month.
Creflo pastors Christian World Changers Church International, based in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.
He has become known as a prosperity preacher, basically, the more people give, the more God will bless them. Of course, tithing was the main part of his message.
Over the years, Creflo has come under criticism for what people describe as a lavish lifestyle, that included several homes and a private jet.
But in a recent sermon, entitled The Great Misunderstanding, Creflo basically stated that his teaching on tithing was wrong.
He told his congregation:
“… I will say that I have no shame at all at saying to you throw away every book, every tape, and every video, I ever did on the subject of tithing, unless it lines up with this (held up his Bible).”
“So why is this important? Because religion is sustained by two factors, fear and guilt. And there’s one subject that the church has used, for a long time, to keep people in fear and guilt, it is the subject of tithing, and it has to be corrected. And it’s got to be corrected now.”
Admitting that he will probably lose some ‘friends,’ fellow televangelists, over this sermon, Creflo went on to say that the concept of giving 10% or a tithe of your income is an Old Testament law. He added that it does not apply to the church, which lives under grace.
He stated that giving should be treated as an act of worship. There is nothing wrong with giving 10%, but it is not mandatory.
The Old Testament tithes
So is tithing mandatory for Christians?
To understand that, we must first look at the Mosaic law. There were actually three tithes mentioned in the Old Testament.
The Sacred Tithe
The first, found in Numbers 18:21-24, is often referred to as a sacred tithe. It provided for the Levites and priests who functioned in the tabernacle and later the temple.
It is important to note, that when the 12 tribes of Israel entered the Promised Land, the land was divided among 11 tribes, not twelve.
The tribe of Levi did not receive a land inheritance, and the remaining tribes were to give 10% of their income to the Levites and priests, so they could dedicate their time to ministry.
It was almost proportionate to the amount of land, the Levites would have otherwise received. In other words, the other tribes received a larger share of land, and because of this were farming ten percent of their land on behalf of the tribe of Levi.
The pilgrimage tithe
The second tithe, mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:22-27, was actually set aside for the individual. This would allow them to attend the three pilgrimage feasts on Israel’s religious calendar, Passover, the Feast of Pentecost, and the feast of tabernacles. Though there was a religious element to these feasts, it was a break from farming and was considered a family or vacation time when they journeyed to Jerusalem.
A tithe for the poor
The third was a tithe dedicated to the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29). It was paid every third year and was to be collected by the community, where it was stored, and set aside for the poor and as well for the Levites.
Giving for the Temple and Tabernacle
There was a separate collection for the maintenance of the tabernacle and the temple.
In Exodus 30:12-13, we have mentioned a half-shekel sanctuary tax collected during the national census, and Ezra and Nehemiah instituted an annual, but voluntary one-third shekel tax for the temple (Nehemiah 10:32; Ezra 6:8).
In the New Testament, the Jewish priests combined the two ideas and instituted a half-shekel tax that was collected annually. Under Roman law, the priests could not make this tax compulsory.
The church on giving
But as we move into the New Testament, there were changes.
This is because the Jewish Temple and the priesthood were no longer relevant to the early church. The church and the believers are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:20-22), and every believer is now a priest (1 Peter 2:9).
But giving was still important and in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, the Apostle Paul lays out several principles about giving:
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[a] will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
The principles are as follows:
- It’s your decision: Give what you have decided to give in your heart. In other words, a tithe is not mandatory.
- Don’t give under compulsion or out of guilt.
- Don’t be reluctant to give. We are not to use this freedom as an excuse not to give.
- Give Cheerfully: Whatever you give, make sure it is an amount that you can give cheerfully. If your giving results in you regretting your gift, then you have given too much.
- Give proportionally: As part of the sowing and reaping principle, give a percentage of your income. If you have decided to give $100 a month. Rather than giving a flat $100, calculate that as a percentage of your income, closest to that amount. Then, when God blesses you, your giving will increase proportionally.
It is a bit of a controversial topic. Some may disagree with me, and that is completely fine, because this is just my opinion.