Is the tithe valid today, in the new covenant? Does God require it of Christians such that anything short of this amount is robbing God? Drs. Andres Kostenberger and David Croteau, professors of Biblical Studies at Liberty University, answer these questions with a resounding ‘No’ in their article titled Tithing in the Old and New Testaments. They argue that none of the three New Testament passages that reference tithing (Matthew 23:23, Luke 18:9-14, Hebrews 7:1-10) support a continuation of the practice because the passages neither having tithing as their primary subject, nor command tithing for Christians.
In a second article, A Biblical Model for Giving, they explain their view of New Testament giving. The view can be summarized in three points based on the texts 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, 2 Corinthians 8:2-4, 8-9; 9:6-7; Philippians 4:16-18:
- Giving should be in proportion to income (those who have prospered should give more) and regular (e.g., weekly)
- It should be done with the right motivation – freely, cheerfully and out of love
- We should be generous and meet real needs
See table 1 in the article for further detail. The professors’ view is that our obedience in giving should be based on our love for God in gratitude for what He’s given us such that we should be willing to give whatever He asks of us rather than just focusing on a prescribed amount (10%). Giving will test and grow our faith and we should manage our life so that we can give more.
You can hear a discussion of the topic of tithing with Croteau and Chuck Bentley of Crown Financial Ministries on Moody’s Up for Debate. If you want to study the topic further, Croteau goes into much greater detail in his dissertation titled Toward a Theology of Giving in the New Covenant. He also lists the six best arguments for the tithe on his blog.
If you’re wondering where other pastors land on this topic here’s a list with links to their explanations. As you’ll see the issue isn’t black and white:
- John Owen
- John MacArthur
- DA Carson (weakly)
- Charles Spurgeon (questionable)
- Michael Bullmore (lots of good resources here too)
- Craig Blomberg and Walter Kaiser (summarized)
The book Perspectives on Tithing – Four Views also captures the spectrum of opinions on the topic.