Collecting (my thoughts)

collection plateMaybe it was just me,¹ but I grew up thinking that contributing to a collection plate every Sunday was a practice legislated by the Bible.

I know full well that most evangelical churches teach or strongly suggest this very habit, but the nature of the devoted-biblicist orientation in the Church of Christ gave the idea a special focus.

As nearly as I can tell or remember, the chief text that suggests that such a contribution is 1 Corinthians 16:1-2.  Here, supposedly, one is told a) to contribute b) weekly, on Sunday.

Problem is, there are hermeneutical issues on several matters in this text.  

Matter one.  First off, I would ask how “lay by in store” equates to “take it out of your pocket/purse and put it in a plate.”  I suppose we could say that the church treasury is the “storehouse” into which we’re “laying by,” but few church treasuries I’ve known about could aptly be characterized as being in existence to address physical needs, which was presumably the situation in view in 1 Corinthians.

Matter two.  There is another phrase that, at least in my memory, the religious professionals conveniently left out.  You see, even the King James has it right:  “lay by him in store,” yet the way I remember it was “lay by in store.”  Catch the difference?  If we leave out the “by him,” it’s easier to justify an institutional collection.  Other NT uses of this word, e.g., in Luke 12:21, also appear to communicate storing up for, or by, oneself.

The NASB renders it “put aside and save,” with a note that sent me scurrying to Greek resources.  (You’d think I’d have done this long ago, feeling as I do, but I’m not that devoted.)  Sure enough:  there are three original wordings that translate roughly as 1) putting 2) by oneself, and 3) storing up.

The long & short:  contributing to a plate forchurchupkeep the sake of institutional support could only vaguely be suggested by 1 Corinthians 16.

Matter three.  We at least ought to question the first-day-of-the-week “rule.”  Might the expression “as he is prospered” imply some chronological correspondence with financial intake, in addition to relating giving to total prosperity?  In other words, a) if one has no income, or b) if that income is taken in on a schedule other than weekly on Fridays or Saturdays, it seems to me that every-Sunday contribution makes little sense.  The passive-voice, subjunctive-mood Greek tense of  the verb (which doesn’t always appear this way in English) “might be prospered” would further appear to suggest that it is not a given that everyone is always “prospered” and therefore will be storing up.  No, the “prospering” involves an implied “if.” ²

Incidentally, some churches (maybe yours?) offer means of giving “online” — which really isn’t completely online anymore, since so much is wireless, but that’s beside the point.  Maybe you want to use that convenience.  For me, online giving wouldn’t really be preferable unless I could set it up as a recurring, automatic “payment,” but that’s bad, because giving for God’s purposes would be in the category of bill-paying.  This is the case for us with giving to World Vision.  I have to admit that I don’t think about the small, monthly, automatic “gift” we make until we get some correspondence from this organization.  Anyway, some might at least enjoy the freedom of matching “when I get paid” with “when I contribute.”

A comparative hermeneutical glance might also be cast in the direction of 2 Corinthians 8:2.  The notion of giving as one is able, or according to what he has, is present there, as well.

Those who don’t feel lists of responsibilities in life might not be bothered by the notion that writings a check is just something you have to do every Sunday, but I am.  I would be more impelled by, say, spontaneity, purposeful giving, desire to be generous because of heart, cognizance of generosity I have experienced, etc.  Somehow, the checking off of the “write check” box on a Sunday “list” doesn’t get it for me.

I hasten to add that such preferences or likes/dislikes of mine wouldn’t matter if scripture clearly instructed otherwise.  Fact is, though, that while there are historical, institutional, and even individual conscience reasons for church contributions, freedom exists in this arena, scripturally speaking.

Matter four:  what should be made of the occasional nature of the letter to the Corinthian believers?  If we understand all scripture (really? all of it?) as prescriptive — as a sort of blueprint — we’re a) illogical and b) in trouble!  This “1 Corinthians” letter was, after all, written to people in Corinth in a certain time and place.  It seems as though there was a specific situation that Paul wanted them to be ready for.  A principle of saving (or an overall life-ideal of using “margin”) might be extracted, but a legal practice for all time isn’t in view here.  The virtuous principle of generosity is admirable, and to be practiced, but, moreover, when Jesus affirmed the woman with the two bits, I doubt she was giving to the establishment or to the new temple fund.

So, just recently I was reconsidering all this, having decided to contribute some to our church according to our monthly pay schedule.  Our church hasn’t made me feel uncomfortable about not contributing regularly . . . and it’s a good thing — we’re living in the red, so I might facetiously ask for alms if someone asked why I didn’t drop a check in the plate!  The vested interests of the leadership in most churches would make people pretty uncomfortable, though, if pew-people thought they should contribute according to their paychecks.  Making “giving” more connected to “prosperity” (and less of a habit) might reduce the overall church income.  And that would be bad in terms of fiscal affairs.

[Please, no one bring up the word “tithe.”  The tithe was for the support of Levitical priests, wasn’t it?  It is not directly related to the Christian age.]

I grew up feeling that contributing to a church treasury was a godly principle and practice, and I don’t think it was just me.¹  It’s not that it’s not godly to give; of course it is.  But the rationales and practices deserve some challenge and have led to unfounded guilt that I am trying, finally, to get rid of.  Its vestiges still give me a bit of discomfort.

I have the distinct feeling that if I had not had an unhelpful notion of giving solidifying in me for all these years, I would now find it less of an effort to be charitable and generous.  

But, if you should be shaking your head at my questions and challenges in tradition-submissive churchmanship, you might smile again if you knew that, during the final editing of this essay, I wrote a check to our (fairly traditional) church.  I am doing it because I want to, because I’m thinking of dear hearts there and their desires to do good, and because I have experienced God’s blessing in the last couple of days.  Incidentally, it happens to be payday two days later.  Maybe I should have waited till next Sunday.  Nah. . . .

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¹ Here’s another “maybe it was just me” post:  Communion

²  Hmm.  It strikes me to mention that certain televangelisty theology assumes financial prosperity for faithful Christians, while Paul does not assume that here.  Not surprising that there’s a philosophical gap between the two.

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16 thoughts on “Collecting (my thoughts)

  1. godschildrenorg 03/30/2014 / 1:13 am

    I often ask God to provide enough so that I can be generous…it is not at all painful to give as I have been prospered. It is joyful to give spontaneously when a need arises…regardless of what my bank balance is. One thing is for sure…we cannot outgive God. And, by the way, God does love a cheerful giver!

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    • Brian Casey 03/30/2014 / 8:25 am

      Yeah, I suppose “cheerful” is likely applicable to messed-up me as well as to those messed-up Corinthians. 🙂 Today, feeling generous, and my cheerful grade is probably B or B-. For me, the painful doubt and quasi-guilt have come, say, 38% because of a feeling (note that I say “feeling,” intentionally acknowledging that I have much more than most) of not prospering, and 62% because of scruples and opinions about the nature of the “giving” placed before me.

      On Sun, Mar 30, 2014 at 1:13 AM, NT Christianity wrote:

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  2. Brian Casey 03/31/2014 / 8:00 am

    Comments via Facebook:
    Cheryl Lacy: Sure did enjoy this Brian. Glad you keep the “tithe” under the Law.

    Brian Casey: Thanks for reading, Cheryl — means a lot. I struggle w/this (mildly) often, and I definitely do relegate a strict tithe to the superseded covenant.

    Matthew William Bassford: Interesting thoughts! Allow me to share a few of my own:

    1. I think the idea of “having to give” is antithetical to the spirit of Paul’s whole discussion in 2 Corinthians 9. The contribution should never be anything more than a voluntary, joyful offering.

    2. I’m with you on “as he has prospered”. I have told new members before, “Look: you’re poor, you’re unemployed, and you have a family that needs to be provided for. Use what you have to take care of your own, and then, once you’re back on your feet and can afford it, that’s when you should think about contributing to the Lord’s work.” 1 Timothy 5:8 speaks with some force here.

    3. I think the implication of 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 is that the money is passing into some sort of treasury. If not, the practice of individual saving would still require Paul to take up a collection when he came. I also think it’s appropriate for a congregation to offer its members the opportunity to give on each first day of the week. 1 Corinthians 16, though obviously not a perfect match to our circumstances today, is still the best evidence we have about how NT Christians did it, and if we want to be like the NT church, we ought to take it into account.

    However, I do not think it’s sinful for a Christian to fail to give on a given Sunday (if you’ll pardon the pun). As Peter makes clear in Acts 5:4, what is ours is ours. It is righteous and godly for us to return some portion of that to God. It is by no means required or compulsory.

    5. Finally, allow me to be my usual rock-brained non-institutional self and speculate out loud about a a connection between a church’s insistence that YOU MUST GIVE and that church’s need for money to support a plethora of programs. Supporting me is far and away the greatest expense of the Joliet church, and even though they provide for me quite comfortably, nobody is going to confuse my salary with Peyton Manning’s! Because our needs are few, our need for money is relatively small, and we can afford to be low-key about the collection.

    If, on the other hand, we had a fellowship hall, a gym, commitments to half a dozen other institutions, and so on, I would imagine that much of our low-key-ness would dissipate!

    Thanks again for a thought-provoking article.

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    • Brian Casey 03/31/2014 / 5:35 pm

      Matthew, thank you for the most thoughtful comments and challenges. I suppose there’s no need for me to agree with the points on which you seem agree/affirm/add, but … thanks for #1 & #2. Moreover on #2, I’m secure enough in my faith-positions that this doesn’t bother me all that much for myself, but it bothers me oh-so-much for others when men who are passing the collection plates ignore the fact that someone is unknown to them. One should not simply hand a plate to a visitor without at least looking apologetic or quizzical, i.e., saying with a glance, “Umm, sorry, but I’m not sure — are you a regular here? Should I be giving this to you, or bypass you — I’m fine w/either!”

      I haven’t heard your #3 “implication” before, and I’m not sure why that should be assumed any more than the simple idea that individuals would be saving. Yes, words are defined better em>in contextual usage than by lexicons and dictionaries, but the verb seems to imply individual action, so I figure it’s at least as strong a possibility that it means individual saving. It would obviously be efficient to have a common collection/treasury, and that’s not inherently a bad idea. I opine that we need some affirmative action in church tradition here, though: so much has been wasted in institutionalisms that I feel the need to go to the other side a bit more than is logically necessary. Hope that makes sense. (Pun pardoned, by the way — and appreciated.)

      Appreciated your honest, reflective #5 and don’t feel any need to add to it!

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  3. Bill D. McGee 04/01/2014 / 12:40 am

    This topic is great Brian. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The bible (as well as Christ Himself) expects and demands God’s people to give with a type of generosity that this world does not understand. A couple times Jesus was impressed with people because of their giving. When Zacchaeus showed his willingness to give half of his possessions as well as 4 times what he cheated others out of…when he saw the widow give all she had…these two were showing the kind of attitude expected. Then there was the one praying who told God that he had given 10% of everything…in which God was not impressed with at all. I always hear the question “How much should I give?” I think Jesus might ask, “How much are you trusting in?” Abram started us off by giving 10% to Melchizedek way before there was ever a tithe. Joseph saw 1/5th as proper (though this went to Pharaoh!) Moses eventually gave us the official tithe which when you look carefully at it was more than 10%. I can’t imagine that the tithe just disappeared in history from the church. Maybe it is because of what we have been taught in the CofC that because the tithe was done away with when the Law was been nailed to the tree, that now we don’t have to give 10%. That makes no sense. “Now, being in Christ I don’t have to give 10%.” (That makes for more cheerful giving I am sure!) Paul was a great fundraiser. He mentioned one church’s generosity (Macedonians) to another to motivate them. He made it clear on a couple of instances that those who did their part in the ministry of God’s word (boldly speaking of himself) teaching etc should receive pay like the un-muzzled ox. (which opens the door for guys like me to get paid…said with great thanksgiving for the very generous support I receive.) Which sort of gets to some of the ideas in your post…where should our giving go? How should it be collected? How should it be distributed? All make for interesting discussion. Thanks.

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    • Brian Casey 04/01/2014 / 7:11 pm

      Bill, I appreciate very much that you read this. Remembering our last conversation “here,” I don’t want to go down a parallel road just now. 🙂

      Appreciating your overall intent, I don’t want to pick much but would prefer words other than “God “expects and demands.” I don’t see that in scripture per se, and I think the notion of his demanding money can block generosity. Putting it with today’s suspicious televangelists and the general non-churched distrust of all things churched . . . well, it’s just not very palatable to put those words into God’s mouth. Now, admittedly, “Bring the whole tithe” may strike you as synonymous to “I expect and demand,” but to me, the former is one thing, and the latter is another.

      Overall generosity wasn’t what I was trying to get at, really, but it’s obviously related. The church collection/contribution is, I think, related to what God is pleased with in terms of giving and generosity, but the collection is largely a trumped-up at best, I’d say. The idea that the old 10% (tithe) was “only a start” troubles me a bit — more for others than for myself. (It could be needlessly guilt-inducing and therefore off-putting.) But your comeback (that feeling *I don’t have to now* “makes for more cheerful giving”) is even more incisive. Ouch. Touche’. And stuff like that!

      I wasn’t really getting to the distribution or allocation aspects here, but there are a lot of ways to use money saved/collected! Say, if you ever were to leave full-time ministry work, would you go into professional fundraising and claim you’re modeling on Paul? The word “fundraiser” is so cold and mercenary to me that I can hardly bear to associate it with Paul!

      On Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 12:40 AM, NT Christianity wrote:

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  4. Bob Bell 04/01/2014 / 6:34 am

    As I read over Corinthians 16:1-2 I can’t help but think of how modern economics has twisted even the basic common sense of saving for the future. At the time of Corinthians ‘money’ still had intrinsic value. People traded tangible property, whether that be livestock, crops, herbs and spices or even precious metals. How different we live today!Today we count our treasure by the face value of fiat money which has zero intrinsic value and which, through means by which the average man cannot comprehend, can be rendered utterly worthless overnight! We live in a world where that which we ‘lay aside’ for ourselves can be stolen from us through economic chicanery. What we count as money is just a ledger entry on some bank’s computer… Not real, not tangible, not comforting. “…lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” Matthew 6:20

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    • Brian Casey 04/01/2014 / 7:16 pm

      Bob, this really adds good thought material. Never have heard the term “fiat money,” but it makes sense on first reading.

      So, what application would you make since our monetary systems and realities are so categorically different? What should we do with our “margin” money today (outside of supporting political candidates, that is)? . . .

      Incidentally, did you notice a post a few weeks ago that tipped the hat to good ol’ DTC? Search “bank shots” or “Jack Porter.”

      *Brian Casey, D. Arts*

      *blcasey.wordpress.com *

      On Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 6:34 AM, NT Christianity wrote:

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  5. Repent! 04/02/2014 / 8:01 pm

    Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto GOD what is GODs. What in the world does that have to do with the tithe? Remember this one fact! The Lord speaks specific! He is the true truth! so when it comes down to it, let EVERY MAN be a LIE! and let GOD BE TRUE! So let’s only speak about things that we know (studied) and not with what we’ve heard lest we lie and lead others astray. back up everything with scripture and prove all things. I also believe that: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto GOD what is GODs. What in the world does that have to do with the tithe? Remember this one fact! The Lord speaks specific! He is the true truth! so when it comes down to it, let EVERY MAN be a LIE! and let GOD BE TRUE! I also believe that: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s was referring to a literal tax imposed by Caesar. But render unto GOD what is GODs” is something that I believe Him to be saying: render the all of you to GOD, mind, body and soul in full service, day and night. The body of Christ is suffering because we are willingly ignorant. We will not study/read for ourselves. We rather be lazy and depend on a man/pastor/preacher instead of Jesus the one that saved us. Remember! Christ is the Head! everyone else is the body and that includes your pastors and bishops. They are merely your fellow servants. Everything that you want to know concerning TRUTH is all found in the WORD. If you want to know about the tithes, take time out and commune with the Lord in His Word and He with show you The Truth about the tithe, if you really want to know! The tenth/tithe is simply of a food source and has been given to a specific tribe of Israel, the Levites! Numbers 18. The tenths/tithes is not on a filthy buck but on FOOD! and I challenge anyone to find in scripture where the tenths have been changed from food to money by the Lord Himself or where is it written any where in the scriptures that the tenths/tithes have been transferred from the Levitical priesthood and given to a gentile minister/preacher/pastor/prophet/bishop. We are all priest in the body of Christ. Please don’t believe that lie that they did not have money back then because that is a huge lie, study it for yourself. This false tithe that men take today and it’s frequency is not found written anywhere in my Bible according to my 4 years of research. Can anyone tell me if they have received a poor tithe or did you even know that it existed? What about the festival tithe? this tithe was eaten before the Lord in the place that he would prescribe. We were all duped by following man/pastors with the book of Malachi, and it’s our own fault! All we had to do was to read the book of Malachi starting with chapter 1. The Lord clearly say’s who He is speaking to, and it is not us. He tells you plainly who is robbing him and what nation he is talking to, the scripture did not say the ENTIRE WORLD. He is speaking to a specific people in a specific nation, and if I may say the windows of Heaven is simply rain, and meat in MY house is simply food and the devourer is literary insects/bugs eating up the crops. So the question is! why are these ministers telling us this falsehood, it isn’t but two reasons why. They are unlearned and are following the traditions of men or they are doing this intentionally, either way they are wrong. If by tradition of men! then why are you telling people things that you know not about, or on the other hand, if done intentionally! it is our job to confront these wicked ministers and to expose them, or continue to sin with them. Remember! there is no mediator between GOD and man but JESUS alone, NOT any PASTOR or any man, they are just your fellow servant. Also why do we give to one man/pastor? The scripture says that he is to get his living from the Gospel NOT TO MAKE his living off the Gospel. Have we lost our minds! Why do we continue to give to one man and neglect our brother or sister sitting right next to us? Have you ever realized that you have to wait mystically, in faith, on your financial blessing! but the pastor gets his right off the top which takes no faith at all. So either the Lord loves a certain part of the body more than the other, or we have this thing all wrong. Listen, if I have anywhere from 3000-30,000 people that I have convinced to give me money every Sunday and Wednesday plus twice in one day! and some Monday’s! then guess what? I’m paid, and this does not include the unscriptural 10% tithe that they take/demmand, that does not belong to them. Sorry, but for the most part the gathering should be for those that have a need, that the needs of the people might be met. We are all guilty of making one brother/pastor/fellow servant wealthy and left all others in the same body lacking, and then we actually believed that this foolishness was from the Lord, to boot! Why would we keep giving to one person that is obviously well supplied and fed. We knew to stop in our hearts when we seen the Mansions and Rolls Royce’s plus the benze’s. What part of this resembles Jesus, john the baptist, or any of the Apostles. We have over paid these pastors/members in the body of Christ and don’t even realize that we have done evil. This is not what took place in the early Church as per the book of Acts. They at least tried to meet the needs of the brethren that there would be no lack, and I don’t mean making one rich or excusing anyone from working a job. Let’s get one thing straight, these pastors, preachers, bishops, and alleged prophets are NOT Apostles. You all know full well that you can’t find any of the apostles or Christ himself asking for or receiving a tithe. How could they? When all of the tithes were given to the tribe of Levi, the Levitical priesthood by GOD for the work they do for serving at the meeting tent, and that’s within the boundaries of Israel. So let’s stop equating these gentile pastors and bishops to the tribe of Levite or The High Priest, in which JESUS CHRIST himself alone is now our High Priest and not any man. By the way, who told you as a gentile to pay a tithe? was it a man or the Lord? Before you answer, back up your answer with scripture and not with what a man told you. That would be putting man before God. To really know the truth about the tithe and any other partial or snippet of scripture that you think that you were taught by these alleged pastors, you would have to step away from the visible Church house and go directly to your source, The Word of God and ask the One that created you, saved you and The one that you plan on spending all of eternity with, and see if He will help you. Also the visible Church is not the Church nor the Temple, the people that make up the body of Christ is the true Church and our bodies are the temple, in fact any body in the body of Christ is the Church. Be not deceived! quite a bit of these ministers may have started off well, but have become overtaken by money or fame (egged on by the people) and their own ego. Remember! you cannot serve mammon and God. If you think that this can be accomplished by the majority of ministers, just see if they will sell all and give to the poor. OK, lets try this, how many people do you know personally that have been healed? 1 person 2 people? half of the people or all of the people? how many delivered? how many raised from the dead? or how many made wealthy among you? as if the gospel was delivered to us to make us wealthy. The scriptures say that the poor you have with you all way, so you see that we have a conflict! lot of these ministers say that you are suppose to be rich. So who’s lying here? We know it’s not The Word of God. We have fallen into all of this false teaching and twisting of scripture because we will not study! or in better words: commune with GOD through JESUS in His Word, The Bible. We have substituted getting to know our Husband The LORD by not studying, and have looked instead for brownie points by going out to a building that we call the Church every Sunday and Wednesday and saying within ourselves that this should be a credit to my account for getting into Heaven, knowing full well that we have not learned anything, but you can say that the Choir was nice! or things like! he sure did preach! He preached what? Do you mean that he was entertaining? because for the most part the saint that has been saved for any period of time have already heard this same message. We’ve heard the gospel preached, received the Gospel and are now saved. So why do you keep listening to the Gospel message again and again after you have believed and received. Shouldn’t we ought to be spreading the gospel after we have received it? Congregating is nice, but how is this developing your relationship to get closer and closer to the Lord? For the most part these ministers/pastors are not going to encourage you to move on in the Lord by insisting that you study to further prepare yourself for your own work in the Lord, because we are all in the body for a reason to do something. But why wouldn’t they tell you this? First you might learn and know more than they do, and second, they may have a fear of you leaving thus losing headcount, funds/money. We were never saved/called to follow a man to this degree. I have personally never met a true pastor. I’ve met a lot of preachers. A true pastor is a somewhat overseer and warns the people in hopes of not losing any brother or sister in Christ. So what is a mega Church? by the way this place we call the Church is actually a meeting place and it does not take a million dollar building, tents and folding chairs will do. But if you say you go to a “mega Church” then who is overseeing you properly? or if you have a “mega Church” how are you overseeing thousands? Also as a large side note, or pretty much a question, Please show me in scripture this message that these ministers are preaching about health wealth and prosperity or any of these raising-money a-thons. Where and when did Jesus or any of the Apostles carry this message? We fall into many hurtful things by not knowing the scriptures. Do you people realize how many times these pastors have sent their children to college on your money while you can’t send your own kids? and buy these huge homes with the people money while you can barely afford pay your rent and bills? or do you even care? Do you think that these people are more loved or special than you in the sight of THE LORD? really? Interestingly the Apostle Paul worked a job and provided for himself and if I’m correct I believe he said that he helped those around him. Although Paul received some help here and there, he also said that he rejected the people’s gold(money) and fine raiment. So are we saying that these pastors are above the Apostle Paul? Absolutely NOT! unless we have lost our minds completely. Have we? People! we are bordering on Idolatry by placing a man above Christ or on the same level as Christ. The is a grave error and should be stopped immediately! I believe that we have lost perspective. This way of thinking did not come from above. As for the entire body of Christ, let no man deceive you. Let no man take you crown nor give it to him. Let no man/pastor/bishop or alleged prophet tell you that you have nothing to say as a member in the body of Christ. Please remember that you were personally invited to the wedding feast by The One who saved you and not by man. You are very important in the body of Christ and let no man tell you otherwise. We should be willing to give all to GOD through JESUS. That is our heart, mind, and body. Please do not be afraid to point this out, speak up and expose any and everything that is not like GOD in accordance to the scriptures, no matter if they be a bishop or a pastor. Do these things internally. Keep JESUS first and endure till the end. Remember! in the world you will have trouble but in him you will have peace, but the Scripture did not say: in the world you will have trouble but in him you’ll be made wealthy. I found out the truth about the tithe and that there is no tithe under The New Covenant about 19 years after being saved and I did not receive it from a man directly. Also, lets not fall for the Abraham argument. Let’s not revert back! The last information that we were given concerning the tithe before the Old Covenant was closed off, is that! whatever the tithe was that supposed to have preceded the Law, be it the Abraham or Jacob tithe. The latest and the last update that we have is that The Lord gave all of the tenths/tithe to that particular tribe of Israel, Levi, and there is no known scripture that reverts us back to pre-law and even if there were to whom would we give them to? We would have to find Melchizedek, drum up some spoils of war, give the tenth part, and then give the 90th part back or 90% back, which would leave the tither with zero. None of these ministers/preachers/pastors/bishops/alleged prophets are Melchizedek nor a High Priest. As a side note: I have heard some of the Melchizedek Shem debate. Please read! Please read! Please study for yourselves and repent.

    Your fellow servant in Christ

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    • Brian Casey 04/03/2014 / 6:54 am

      You seem sincere and serious in your commentary here — that’s for sure! You also seem to be answering something I didn’t ask, rebuking me for something I didn’t say, and warning me to turn from a path on which I do not walk. In that sense your words are misguided, although they seem to be on target in many of their specifics. I don’t disagree with that part of your writing that I can understand, but I’ll tell you that it’s very difficult to read this because it has no paragraphing. I won’t censor your comment in case you are someone who comes back to read replies and want to say something else, but please know that I find this over the top. I’m caused to wonder whether you simply searched for blogs with the word “tithe” in them and pasted this in to all of them, willy-nilly?

      On Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 8:01 PM, NT Christianity wrote:

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    • Repent! 04/04/2014 / 4:34 pm

      Hi, OK Brian, please do not be offended. This letter was not directed at you or meant to chastise you. You are correct! this letter is for “tithe” sites. But if you can glean truth from it! so let it be! but if not, so that be also. We apologize for interfering with your discussion on this site.

      Your fellow servant in Christ

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    • Brian Casey 04/04/2014 / 6:12 pm

      With gratitude for your willingness to admit you were “blasting away” here, I’m happy to let your commentary stand. I don’t think this interfered. I am not interested in upholding the tithe in this age, and we seem to agree on that! 🙂

      On Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 4:34 PM, NT Christianity wrote:

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  6. Bill D. McGee 04/03/2014 / 7:59 am

    Brian…thanks for responding. Let me clarify. I was addressing your concern for the way we use the Corinthian passage to affirm our weekly basket passing. You were selecting one passage, I was simply suggesting that there is a “meta-message” that is pretty clear. That message includes lots of “fund-raising.” It may sound cold to have the intent to motivate Christians to give like pretty much all non-profits do. But, the truth is, according to the message, it appears to be “ok.” You see, the Corinthian passage has been used for years that way by church leaders. I was only suggesting that if you look deeper there are so many passages that call us to way beyond what we are comfortable doing. Wasn’t your article addressing some of your personal comfort in this area? I appreciate your honesty in dealing with this matter.

    I view it this way…when Christians get to the point where they feel they can “rest” in their Christianity thinking, “I have arrived” that is a very dangerous place. These folks are satisfied that they are meeting the “requirements” in all the areas of spiritual disciplines (or above the requirements.) Technically, they are still living under the “Law!” Thus, their law then becomes their expectation for the entire community. The gospel itself obliterates that mentality as well as the “meta-message” in scripture on giving. It is only through our understanding of the gospel that we can live in a place where we wrestle with joy in these spiritual disciplines. Where we are free to decide how much of the master’s resources He has provided for us that we will use for furthering His story and kingdom. [Jesus specifically uses the “steward” (Oikonomos – Ultimately a slave, yet in charge of much”) to help us see our roles in His Kingdom.]

    I see in your article this wrestling with joy…a confirmation of the gospel…a confirmation of Christ being the “center” of your heart. Very encouraging!

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    • Brian Casey 04/05/2014 / 12:56 pm

      Bill, thanks again. I was initially wanting to challenge (strongly) the practice of contributing to a collection plate that ends up in a church treasury. In choosing 1 Cor. 16, I was dealing with the only passage I know of that appears, in some translations, to suggest (or at least is used directly to enjoin) weekly contributions.

      To go further now: I sense that collection-plate-type giving has become rather blind and purposeless for many. It ends up being a thoughtless or rote religious duty that supports a system — rather than an opportunity to help in doing God’s work. This is not to take any particular church or ministry to task (although NPR has recently done just that, and I have another piece coming out in a few days about this news story), but it is to say that *cheerful giving* and *generosity* and *”not muzzling the ox”* and *financial support of God’s advancing Kingdom* are all things that may have little or nothing to do with the Sunday collection plate.

      As I think you know, I am not too much interested in propping up religious systems of any sort. I *am* interested, though, in using resources to play roles in God’s purposes. I think there are many ways to support His purposes, and giving to a church treasury is one. It’s just not one I get too excited about very often. . . .

      And that lack of excitement bothers me … which comes back around to the whole reason for my essay. Personally, I a) don’t want to feel guilty for not doing something the Bible doesn’t really say anything about, so that I can b) experience more of the grace of purposeful, generous giving. In other words, since I don’t see the NT writings speaking to weekly giving to plates/treasuries, there appears to be a broad freedom here.

      I read an article 15 or 20 years ago entitled “Stop Paying the Bills.” (This was not written about salaried ministers named Bill. Just thought I’d mention that — ha.) It was written with somewhat of an acid tone, as I recall, and basically was challenging church members to stop contributing, because nothing else was going to throw the necessary wrench into the wheels of the institutional church. While I may think somewhat along some of the same lines as that author, I am not advocating something so radical for the masses — only wanting to show that another way, outside church church tradition, may be supported by scripture. Or, more aptly, I am wanting to show that the financial method employed by churches for centuries does not enjoy New Testament support. The existence of “different strokes,” in other words. is OK by me.

      You cannot imagine that the tithe just disappeared in the church age. I suspect you are onto something there, and the logical question, for me, is this: does the lack of NT information on the tithe’s continuity imply that it was perpetuated, or does the silence imply that tithing was no longer a concern (but might have been practiced here & there anyway)? It seems that other Jewish practices likely continued for a time. I just don’t know. Maybe I need to read some 1st- & 2nd-century history, huh? I’d still have the question, though, whether tithing were God’s intent for the church. Some of the Galatians were so dogged by Jewishness, 15-16 years after Jesus’ death! It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that tithing continued in many Jewish outposts where churches developed. But the practice (and other examples, such as the ones you mentioned in your first comment) don’t require that tithing was a law for all time. The “occasional” nature of the NT letters should be brought to bear here, too: 1 Corinthians was written to a particular group at a particular time. If one could infer the church treasury from 16:1-2, that was one church, in one year (a famine year, maybe?). A principle might be extracted, but probably no more, from that passage alone.

      Still, as my wheels turn, I’m currently doing most of what the Christian masses do. I really do not want to get comfortable in my practices. That kind of thing is really what I want to *challenge*. I can agree that giving to a treasury is OK, but I can’t currently agree that it is necessary. Legalism does run in two directions, as you point out, and meeting requirements is as much a part of my current thinking, to my shame, as it is with those who contribute *only* out of a sense of duty instead of with joy and purpose. (May those who drop checks and currency in plates tomorrow do it with joy and purpose!)

      Do you wonder whether Jesus might have spoken any Greek? Or whether any of the four evangelists might have had personal (inspired?) agendas that played roles in word choices in the ultimately Greek documents that led to our New Testaments. I do. 🙂

      This was way too much to write. Thanks for reading, if you have made it this far!

      On Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 7:59 AM, NT Christianity wrote:

      >

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