“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts. “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
— Malachi 3:10
If I am right about the long-term economic trouble and a continuing decline in the “faith and confidence” the federal government’s borrowing power, Chattanooga is in for hard times. This prospect is not clear in the establishment press, but shrilly discussed in the libertarian press. How might people here avoid losing 30 to 60 percent of their capital in coming meltdowns, market crashes and inflation?
My theory about days of reckoning prompt me to encourage my reader and listener to divest himself of national economy and dollar-denominated assets, and invest in himself, his own business and that of other local economy people in whom he has confidence. He needs liquidity (gold, silver, cash, for starters). That’s why my work as a writer has a focus on entrepreneurialism.
An important element of the Christian faith that supports this optimistic perspective is that of the tithe. In speaking here of the tithe — the tenth of the whole God commands every soul to pay from his increase — I include what goes beyond what one’s home church receives from this royal tax. That added sum would would be freewill gifts to charity, nonprofit groups, Christian ministries for the poor or the widow, or to mission organizations not part of your church’s external support budget.
Main argument for the tithe
The tithe is the means of social rebuilding and is an obligation for the Christian. I know many churches beg for money, solicit donations, but don’t teach the tithe. The tithe is God’s tax upon His people that He expects them to lovingly remit. It’s a 10th of their gain or increase, and is to be remitted to their church governments. If Christians in Chattanooga would end what is effectively a tax revolt, a huge amount of money would be available for local economy and charitable work.
If the tax revolt across the country were abandoned, a vast quantity of capital would be available for ministry, charity among the deserving poor, care for the rising crowd of old people, and other works of mercy. Without social financing, Christendom remains a memory, and an ideal, and cannot offer a practical program without funding. A few Christians hold forth that the refusal to tithe shows they live in an age of grace and that God claims the whole of their wealth and increase; they turn the refusal to tithe into a virtue. If Christianity is unable to capitalize itself with the tithe and generous giving, all the state must do is step in to handle social services and ministry, which it has done in the U.S. since the Progressive era and President Roosevelt’s New Deal.
The tithe puts authority and power in the hands of the common man, the little man. Today the magnates and barons such as Bill Gates dominate the public scene — Mr. Gates’ big mark today being his backing of the “common core” control of public schools. With the tithe, the Christian will come to see authority and control flow downward toward locales, and to individuals. If every church in Chattanooga were to receive the full tithe from members sworn to uphold and support that assembly, the city would have a tremendous source of revenue for social reform in a biblical direction adorned with an explicit Christian argument.
The tithe was instituted among the Israelites, as were other liberties such as the freedom from lawless killing, theft and rape. Malachi quotes God as condemning those who would “rob God” by withholding tithes and offerings (chapter 3, verse 8). Nehemiah speaks of the Levites about the firstfruits of the ground and the trees as being brought to the house of the Lord (Neh. 10:25-35). Christ affirms the value of obeying all God’s commandments when the rich young ruler lists them, but goes on to command that man to sell all his goods and give to the poor, because his love of money has separated him from eternal life.
Generous giving; but first — the debt problem
Patty Harris of Generous Giving, a Christian nonprofit group in Chattanooga, says faithfulness to the duty of tithing is an underlying premise of her work. Mrs. Harris says tithing and generous giving go hand in hand; but debt levels of Americans are so high that IOUs sharply curtail Christian giving and expansion.
“We want people to be able to be free from the bondage — and it is bondage — and [being] slave to the debtor,” says Mrs. Harris, who oversees the Crown Financial Ministries department at the group. “We want you to be able to be free to serve in your community, and to be free to fund the Great Commission. Those are our three things we would love to accomplish, and we would love Chattanooga to be the most generous city in America.” The city already is one of the top city in the U.S. for charitable giving.
A primary teaching of Crown ministries is that “God owns it all.” So, we Christians tithe 10 percent of their increase. Beyond that, we give generously. As we extend grace to others with our means, God extends blessings to us, she says.
Generous Giving is particularly well equipped to help high-capital individuals spread their financial giving among registered mission agencies, charities and schools.
“There is joy in giving to others. Once I got past the point of that being a duty instead of a joy, that is a joy to me now. It’s worship to me to be able to give, and to give joyfully and graciously and not be hesitant. **** You can’t outgive God.”
Mrs. Harris tells about a wealthy Christian who visits the Generous Giving office. “He doesn’t drive the fanciest car; he doesn’t live in the fanciest home; he doesn’t wear the fanciest clothes. But you know what? He is one of the most generous givers I have ever met. He loves to give to charities. He loves to give for kingdom building. He loves to give for the lives others. And so, it is so neat to watch his example to watch the joy that comes out of him as he gives to others. **** So, if you’ve got that excess, what is your passion? What would you like to see done in Chattanooga, or wherever you live? Where would you like to help the kingdom? And then, how much is enough?”
Sources: Edward Powell and Rousas John Rushdoony, Tithing and Dominion (Vallecito, Calif.: Ross House Books, 1979). 146 pp. This book is an important study of how Christendom is capitalized through the tithe. But it makes the claim that the recipient of the tithe is whichever nonprofit group or charity the tither selects.
Gary North, Tithing and Dominion (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1994), 204 pp. This book is a rebuttal of the second argument of Tithing and Dominion, cited above. Dr. North says only the church has lawful claim upon the tithe and that the man subject to a church government has no permission to withhold his tithe and choose where it is to be spent. North’s high view of church government is the correct one.