Backlash Against Tithing<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Kerby <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Anderson
March 19, 2008
Should Christians tithe? Ask that question in some churches today, and you are likely to start an argument. A few months ago, The Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled "The Backlash Against Tithing." More recently CBS News ran a feature "To Tithe or Not To Tithe?" Even the secular media is noticing how controversial tithing has become in some churches.
The idea that Christians should give ten percent of their income to the church has become quite controversial and is increasingly being challenged. Church members say they should be free to donate whatever they choose. Some are reacting against a strong promotion of church giving that includes sermons, flyers, brochures, and even "giving kiosks" where church members can give using their debit cards.
Others are reacting to the legalism that says the Old Testament law code concerning the tithe applies to the New Testament church age. And still others want to be good stewards of their giving and want to know more about how a church spends its money.
The best estimates are that Christians gave about 2.5 percent of the income to the church, far below the ten percent advocated by those teaching tithing. And it appears that church giving is on the decline partially due to a decline in regular attendance and also due to the fact the Christians are giving to other charitable organizations.
It isn't that Christians are stingy. Last year Americans gave an estimated $97 billion to churches and that is almost a third of the country's $295 billion in charitable donations.
A number of church leaders and theologians have also entered the debate. They point out that the tithe was an Old Testament requirement, and that New Testament believers no longer live under the Law but under grace. The tithe, however, can be a good baseline for Christian giving. If Christians are only giving 2.5 percent of their income to the church, I think they might want to rethink their priorities. I'm Kerby Anderson, and that's my point of view.
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