Tithing and Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
(Who really is changing times and laws?)
False prophets are given the distinctive by Christ as being wolves in sheep's clothing, whose main desire is to feed their own belly while devouring the flock, all the while giving the appearance of being sheep-like.
I find it amusing that the ministers of the Worldwide Church of God and splinters like wearing wool suits, but perhaps that observation is merely a coincidence. Graduates of Ambassador College that were put into the ministry program were given an allowance for the purpose of acquiring suits suitable for the ministry. The uniform of a minister was this "sheep's clothing."
Anyone who has had an association with Worldwide or the splinters knows the emphasis that was put on tithing. To not tithe was to rob God. Malachi 3:8 was drawn like a gun and held to the collective heads of the members. In order to justify tithing, several issues had to be overcome, some of which many members were never even aware of. If any subject ever was full of cognitive dissonance, this is the one.
First off, we need to establish the proper biblical definition of just what a tithe is. When it comes to deceptions and deceiving people, invariably words and terms are redefined to suit the purpose of the one "pulling the wool" over the people's eyes.
The tithe that was commanded in the Law was a tenth of the increase of produce and/or livestock, or even products derived from the same. Wine was tithed upon instead of the grapes used to produce the wine for instance. One thing that was never commanded or required was that people tithe on the increase of wages. The land is what produced wealth, and it was that which came from the land and animals that was tithed.
The justification for teaching people to tithe of their wages today is the rationalization that we do not live in a predominantly agrarian society, thus the necessity for this change in the Law.
Did you catch that? Herbert Armstrong and others changed the Law in order to adjust to our modern times.
And yet, it was Armstrong who taught, citing Matthew 5:17-18, that the Law remained intact and unalterable down to jots and tittles.When HWA began preaching to farmers in the Willamette area of Oregon all those years ago, theirs was an agrarian society. Did HWA teach and demand their tithes of the land, or did he teach these farmers to tithe on the money they derived from the sale of their produce and livestock?
Whenever I have pointed out this anomaly to a "dyed in the wool" member, they simply refuse to see the cognitive dissonance between the two beliefs that cannot both be true at the same time.
What we need to ask ourselves, and answer, is whether any man or any organization has the right to alter any of the Word of God and/or its application.
Some members, when confronted with a New Covenant theology that does not contain the old covenant Law respond by claiming God changes not, and Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever as a rationalization for keeping that Law. I had someone respond to me the other day that we are not to alter the Holy Scriptures by adding to them or taking away from them. Then they flip flop and take the opposite stance when it comes to altering that same Law in order to meet with the "changing times" when it comes to tithing.
Does anyone really then have the right to alter Scripture and the application of Scripture?
I'll leave that unanswered, but just point out that I don't want to be the one who stands before Christ being asked that question of me.
When Paul made his case for support in regards to preaching the gospel, he pointed out that Christ had ordained that those who preached had a right to support as a result of preaching the gospel. (I Corinthians 9:14) He also did not use tithing as a justification. Rather, he used the example of not muzzling the ox that treads out the grain. (Vs. 9) After stating this, he then went on to say he did not always avail himself of this right in order to be more effective in preaching the gospel. (Vs. 15)
This begs the question regarding false ministers, the wolves in sheep's clothing. Would they preach for free, working at other times for their sustenance like Paul did, or would they teach people to tithe to them out of their wages, thus altering the Scriptures way beyond jots and tittles to their own benefit?
One last observation. The narrative of Peter going to the temple one day in order to pray there with John, and a lame man hoped Peter would give alms to him:
"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk" (Acts 3:1-6).
The pillars of the church had no money to give to him. How odd, don't you think, that if what Herbert Armstrong taught and claimed was true in regards to tithing, they should have been rolling in dough!
By William Hohmann
Exit & Support Network™
August 21, 2009
Understanding the Tithe (In this excellent study, Aaron Budjen explains why the tithe has no application in the Church today. The first message covers using religious extortion in order to coerce people to tithe. Covers the history of tithing; Malachi 3 and Hebrews 7 are also addressed; 8 MP3 messages; free download) [offsite link]
Wolves in Sheep's Clothing [offsite article]