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Tithing and Submission

Written by Gary North on March 5, 2016

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it (Mal. 3:10).

One storehouse, one tithe: this is the heart of the matter. The day that men multiply storehouses is the day they begin to lose the blessings of God in history. Why? Because the existence of many storehouses reveals that men no longer believe that there is a single, sovereign, God-authorized collector of the tithe. The tithe is broken up into a series of offerings; the offerings become voluntary; and voluntarism transfers sovereignty to the donor: he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Then the lax collector steps in and reimposes compulsion.

Voluntarism and Sovereignty

The modern church is consistent. It does not preach the mandatory tithe because it does not preach the mandatory law of God. By abandoning five-sixths of the Bible as “God’s Word, emeritus,” it has cut its own purse strings. When it preaches that God has no legal claims on modern man’s institutions, it places itself under another God with another law. God is presented as if He had no legal claims on modern man. “God loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life” has been substituted for “God claims you, and has placed you under an eternal bond, which you have broken.” The doctrine of a claims-less God has had financial consequences for the churches, just as it does for the people in them who refuse to pay:

Then came the word of the Loan by Haggai the prophet, saying, is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your celled houses, and this house lie waste? Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes (Hag. 1:3-6).

This warning is easily dismissed today as “Old Testament stuff.” Non-judicial preaching has regarded the church as a voluntary institution, contractual rather than covenantal. Such preaching treats the communion table just as it treats the law: an occasional ritual for remembrance’s sake alone. The church is barely distinguishable theoretically from a non-profit social club, and very often in fact. There is no sense of the judicial presence of God anywhere in modern church liturgy. Men may sing, “All hail the power of Jesus’ name; let angels prostrate fall,” but neither angels nor the power of Jesus’ name are taken seriously. At best, such events are seen as non-historical; at worst, mythical.

The church sets the pattern for the world. This, too, is not believed by the modern church. We find that there is no sense of the judicial presence of God in the civil courtroom, the voting booth, and on inauguration day. The following phrases are mere formalities: “So help me, God” (courtroom oath), “In God we trust” (slogan on U.S. money), and “God bless you all” (tagged onto the end of televised speeches by American Presidents). Government is seen as strictly voluntaristic. It is a matter of mere convention. This is the triumph of philosophical nominalism: Occam’s famous razor has been used to shave God out of history. That was its purpose from the beginning.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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