This question can be reworded to ask if it is important to debate any doctrine. Many people steer away from any debate, and I’m trying to find out if it is healthy to have this position in one’s life. The reason why I brought up this topic is that I recently confronted someone about a specific teaching he had about the tithing issue. Not to be arrogant, but my accusation torched his teaching. Basically, he responded by saying, “I’d rather watch paint dry than ever debate anything”.
I guess this kind of bothers me that I just nailed that guy, and he won’t even concede just a little. I don’t know if I took it personally, or am just angered at his ignorance. One of my biggest flaws is that I have no patience for people, so being upset is not the right response on my end; but I still want to hear opinions about what others feel about debating. You are probably thinking in your head that I’m a little late on this question considering I’ve been debating tithing on this blog for three-and-a-half years. Well, maybe I’ve been doing it wrong. Maybe I need another approach? I’m gonna throw out some verses in the bible that talk about debating(NKJV). I highlighted a few keywords in each verse. I want to hear what your comments are about this.
2 Corinthians 12:20
For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults;
being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
1 Peter 3:15-16
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.
1 Timothy 6:3-5
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.
2 Timothy 2:14-17
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer.
2 Timothy 2:23-26
But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
Debate your case with your neighbor, And do not disclose the secret to another;
What say ye? Is there a Godly approach to debating?
Danny Davis says
Linda, I certainly meant no inference as to whether you are right or wrong in any answer you would give to that question but was only making reference to the fact that I certainly can’t speak for you and since the question was asked of you, I was only joining in the conversation since it is out there for all to see and/or participate in. I would say that I believe you are somebody in God’s eyes and should be in all of ours as well. You were worth dying for, I believe.
Jared, I agree with you that all truths in the Bible reflect God’s character and there was nothing in my statement to infer otherwise. I do believe our ability to fully understand some of those truths is subject to human inadequacy to grasp the infinite with finite minds. That is why we need the “mind of Christ” and why short of completely being surrendered to that and transformed by that and equipped with that (and I’m not personally acquainted with any of those people, although they may be out there)we will probably always have some truths that we understand differently. and most likely all of our different understandings of those self-same truths are all inadequate to the fullness of those truths. I am merely saying that there are some truths that seem so clearly spelled out that few of us who carry the label of followers of Christ would have any or much room for disagreement with each other no matter what our “lesser labels” may be. and while it is true that debate testifies to the complexities and mysteries of God, it also sometimes testifies to our need to validate ourselves and our beliefs about Him. Jesus himself pointed out that people are prone to “strain at gnats.” I fear that our propensity as Christians to strain at spiritual gnats by spending a preponderance of time debating non-essentials of the faith can become more self-serving than Christ serving. I don’t think I remember Jesus calling us to go and make tithers or non-tithers or tongues speakers or non-tongues speakers, etc., etc. of all nations. Just disciples. I’m just saying I believe there are some truths that are common to any following Christ and some where God allows us partial understanding as it best keeps us connected to Him. And even our personal lists of what those truths are has wiggle room as God opens our hearts to one another and makes us sensitive to each others’ understandings. But a lot of discussion and debate gets wasted on stuff that has little bearing on whether our hearts belong to Jesus and has little enriching value except to help us understand each other better as opposed to understanding god better. But in light of God’s desire that we all be as one, us understanding each other better may be a worthwhile goal in His eyes. After all being in unity doesn’t necessarily mean in uniFORMity. It’s so much more about WHO we believe in than how we practice our belief and so much more about loving each other as Jesus loves us from our hearts than how His law is communicated to our minds.
Linda Marquis says
Well said. The question presented is “Is there anything in the Bible worth fighting for?”. Apparently some think it’s so because we have a multitude of denominations to show for it. Some say we should contend for how we’re baptized, others won’t recognize you unless you speak in tongues, others require the sinner’s prayer to be said, others say you’re a heretic because you embrace “One God” instead of a Trinity, some want you dunked some sprinkled and you get the idea. I don’t care what you call yourself and with whom you affiliate, you have your ideas about who’s saved and what it takes for that to happen. Does anyone really think that Jesus went to the Cross and paid the ultimate price for us to gamble it all away on us finding the right doctrine? I know how that comment affects those who worship the Bible. It is the interpertation of that very Book that makes everyone claim that their way is the absolute right way!!! It is a living breathing Word and therefore is not meant to be interperted in the spirit of the law. It’s so interesting to me that the same people who want to scream from the mountain tops that tithing is no longer applicable because it’s under the Law still carry the spirit of the Law! Talk about the blind leading the blind. Bondage is bondage no matter how you dress it up and try to make it smell nice it stinks and its ugly. ALL legalism be it in word or deed.
why the tithing discussion important? Does it really matter as long as the ministry is successful? Below I have listed 5 reasons why tithing becomes an important discussion and affects many lives:
1) It is important to look into these issues, it is our duty:
Proverbs 14:8 — The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
Sometimes what we assume to be right, and what looks to be right is wrong and has serious ramifications:
Proverbs 14:12 – There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
2) What are some of these ramifications if tithing is not to be part of the New Covenant church? Paul’s word’s are very strongly against those that hold to any part of the law:
Galatians 5:2-4: Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Christ by His blood freed us from the curse of the Law (Gal 3:13), by teaching tithing are we binding people to the law?
3) Malachi 3:10 states “test me in this”, says the Lord God Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Most teach that we are to tithe, ergo say that God will bless us in our tithing. What if we got it wrong? What if we are not to tithe, what if we are to give? Are we missing out on God’s blessings by depending on the tradition and institution of tithing instead of depending completely on God and the system of giving established in 2 Corinthians 9?
2 Corinthians 9:7 – Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
4) The doctrine of tithing alienates many people, we have to be sure that there is good reason for this:
How many souls have been lost because people think the church is greedy? How many people “can’t “afford” to go to church because they are looked down on for not being able to tithe. How many are denied church membership or work in the ministry because they do not adhere to the doctrine of tithing?
For these people this becomes a critical issue. For as long as there are those that teach that by not tithing you are a thief and robbing God, there will be those that are accused of wrongdoing… the issue is important, because are they actually doing anything wrong?
5) If we teach one thing wrong or dishonestly? Then our teaching of the Gospel comes into question. Are we teaching the wrong thing; “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matt. 15:6)? When it comes down to it we have to have a high standard when it comes to representing the truth.
As one group stated(and I edited):
Don’t get me wrong, many preachers who teach tithing as a law have no ulterior motive and are sincerely convinced of its validity. Unfortunately (especially for those who hear and believe them), many preachers don’t learn (or at least confirm) their doctrine from personal study. They learn it from hearing other preachers or teachers. But what if their teachers are wrong? They will never know it if they don’t study. Sincerity is no substitute for knowledge, for this reason we have to know…