Surprisingly, 2000 years after the book of Galatians was written we’re still finding ourselves debating law vs grace, fulfilled vs destroyed, old vs new. Very frustrating! I know! The debate on what laws Christ fulfilled and which ones He expanded on can get deep and confusing. Of course, this website is about tithing, so tithing will be an example of how I hope to simplify the debate with a few basic questions.
In order to enforce a law that was commanded in the Old Testament, it must pass a basic test to determine its transcendence into the New Covenant and even more compelling as an eternal principle. There are a few basic questions to ask:
- Is it an unchanging law without exceptions?
(Is it clear from Genesis 1 through Revelation 21?)
- Are there any other precedents?
(Do similar laws make a case for or against it?)
- Is it superseded?
(Is it focused on the outward value or the inward?)
Is the 10% Requirement Consistent & Unchanging?
Since tithing is considered the minimum standard for believers in the New Covenant, then one would think that tithing was the minimum standard for those under the Old Covenant. But look:
- Abraham gave from the spoils of war, not his own wealth.
- Then the Israelite warriors were told to give only 1/500th of their spoils of war.
- The Israelites didn’t tithe from non-farm income or goods sold. (ie: Carpenters, bankers, doctors gave 0% of their income)
- No tithes were given at all when outside the promised land when Israel was captive in other countries.
- The temple storehouse only received 1% of Israel’s increase; compared to today wherein we hear that 10% is to be given to the Church storehouse.
- Tithes from farmlands were only given for 5-6 years out of a 7-year cycle.
- Many theologians debate that the minimum was 23%.
10% wasn’t consistent, standardized, universal, or patterned. To diminish its value even more, it wasn’t even the first and neither was it the best. With all these inconsistencies, what is tethering it to the New Testament as a requirement?
Are There Any Other Precedents To Confirm Or Deny?
If you can rationally get past the first hurdle, then one must show how this unfulfilling effort has the ability to transverses the Old and New Covenants without any other precedents.
- The only Old Covenant benchmark under 100% that made its way into New Covenant practices without a confirmation to do so is tithing.
- As exemplified by the practice of animal sacrifices, clean meats, & circumcision, these Old Covenant rituals began prior to the Mosaic law and ended after Calvary. So being pre-mosaic law does not make it immune from the same fate as these other comparable rituals.
- Even though other forms of worship such as prayer, praise, or service had specific requirements in the Old Covenant, the requirements have been dropped from practice in the New Covenant.
Is Tithing Superseded by Forces That Are More Powerful?
Once one gets past these previous two hurdles, then one must be confident that there can be no other spiritual attributes that supersede its physical ones.
- 10% is a physical benchmark, not a spiritual one; so it exemplifies a ceremonial law, not a transcendent, spiritual principle.
- The Holy Spirit has been clearly established as our counselor on private worship.
I can’t say that my questions are a perfect science and that settles the debate; but through my own experiences, these three questions help answer a few questions in my mind. If a law is unchanging through scripture, has a precedent, and is not superseded; then you’re on your way to finding what eternal principles are in place. In regards to tithing, it was completely demolished by the first question alone, but it was interesting to go even further with demolishing it.