Yesterday I was perusing the SMCC Draper Facebook Page, as we occasionally like to do with some of the churches that we check, and I came across this video that they recently posted, which you can watch on their Page here:
You can also see our entire discussion by going to that video on their page as well, but first, let me explain exactly what happened.
The video does a decent job of explaining how Christians are now in a New Covenant with God in which the two great commandments: Love God and love others, is written on our hearts.
Seeing this video on SMCC's Page wasn't exactly surprising. After all, they are a church like most Christian churches which claims to preach the Gospel and believe in the grace of God, but at the same time, they preach the Old Covenant Law of tithing.
Unlike many Christian churches which pressure and manipulate people into giving more by simply taking the many Scriptures on giving and constantly referencing them to their congregation, SMCC doesn't just pressure giving. They actually preach tithing as a commandment of God.
If you don't remember, that was Rick Henderson's answer to my question of what their church's official position on tithing is: "We believe it's taught in the New Testament."
Additionally, Paul Robie has written an entire ebook on the topic, the church's website has a Position Paper on it (which we refuted here), an entire page dedicated to it, and even a video on that page to further pressure people into giving more to their church.
This church is all about the money, and they get it by preaching a legalistic doctrine of tithing wherein which people are actually commanded to pay a minimum of 10% to the church.
Seeing a video on their page which touts and reasonably explains the grace of God through Christ and His Gospel made me wonder: How can they claim to be a gospel preaching church when they believe Christians are actually obligated to the law of tithing?
So, I left a comment:
"Pretty good video. Jesus fulfilled the Law and nailed it to the cross, establishing a new law of Love written on our hearts by God. Love God and love others. This is why we aren't bound by the Old Testament Law anymore. So how does preaching the Old Testament Law of tithing to free Christians work exactly?"
Now to be honest, I've tried asking questions like this on the SMCC Draper Facebook Page before. The Check My Church Page has been banned from commenting on their Page at all, and the comment I made under the CMC account was deleted promptly.
Needless to say, I was expecting the same reaction with this comment, but I was wrong. Oh, so wrong. In a happy and surprising turn of events, whoever runs the SMCC Draper Page (I'm assuming it's either Rick or Paul), actually answered me, and from there, a debate commenced!
Here's how it went.
The Debate On Tithing
At first, it seemed the only discussion to be had in this thread was between myself and one of our good friends and CMC readers, Patrick Leyerle. Here's how things started off.
Patrick: Sarah Young your question is valid. Tithing wasn’t always about money in the old testament. Nonetheless, it’s not part of the new covenant.
Sarah: True, it wasn't necessarily about money. Glad we don't have to worry about it though. I couldn't afford it. Jesus paid our tithing on the cross.
And then SMCC Draper/Paul/Rick, or whoever it was representing that church, actually responded (emphasis mine).
SMCC Draper: Yes, Jesus fulfilled the Law and we celebrate that. Fulfilling the requirements of the Law is the not the same thing as removing all commands. The Old Covenant (Old Testament) finished and we are in a New Covenant (New Testament). New Testament Christians understand that all commands are an expression of God's love for us and obedience is our expression of love to Him and others.
John 14:15 Romans 13:9-10
There are good hearted, intelligent New Testament Christians who disagree on the matter of tithing. Some see it as a clear command. Some do not. Yet, virtually all understand regular financial giving to be a command. At SMCC we believe that tithing is included in the good, loving commands expressed in the New Testament. Anyone who is interested can read why we have that understanding: https://bit.ly/2Sjye26
And so, the debate began. Read the rest here, or you can go to the original thread on SMCC Draper's Facebook Page here.
Patrick: Show me where in the New Testament tithing is a command. Show me in context. Please! I’ll wait.
Sarah: The New Covenant consists of two commandments: Love God, and love others. Just as the video you posted explains. All Old Covenant Laws have been fulfilled and all now hang on these two great commandments (Matthew 22:40). Why would we revert to trying to obey the Old Covenant when Christ shed His blood to free us from the OT Law and give us a new and better one, written directly on our hearts? (Romans 2:15; Hebrews 8:6)
Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians taught or commanded to pay tithing, nor regular financial giving. Your 41 page document seems unnecessarily long for answering the simple question of where in the Bible are we commanded to pay tithing. I’ve actually read the whole thing before, but I can’t find anywhere in it that shows Jesus or any of the writers of the NT actually commanding Christians to pay a regular tithing or financial giving to a church. Could you just share one verse with us that contextually shows that tithing is commanded of Christians?
Giving is an act of love, and as 2 Cor. 9:7 says, it shouldn’t be compelled. Commanding Christians to pay a tithe is obligating and compelling them to give in contradiction to that Scripture. We are to give as led by the Spirit out of love and it’s between us and God, not us and anyone else.
Patrick: Tithing is not for us today. Do we pay a temple tax, priests. No. Look at how Abraham paid tithes. Not the same as you preach.
Patrick: Love is the law for us today. Money isn’t.
Patrick: Jesus taught about giving to the poor. Not to corporate churches who get bigger and bigger.
SMCC Draper: As was stated before, this read will explain our understanding of scripture on this; https://bit.ly/2Sjye26 I hope you'll take the time to see where we're coming from.
Sarah: I think you know that I've already taken a lot of time trying to see where you're coming from (See: https://www.checkmychurch.org/.../refuting-smcc-s...). All I'm asking for is one verse to show that tithing is commanded of Christians in the New Testament. I don't think one exists. I'll re-read your e-book on giving though. Will you answer any questions I have regarding the ebook itself?
Patrick: I’ve read it. Please, one verse in context!
SMCC Draper: It's assumed in 1 Corinthians 9, specifically "in the same way" v14; Paul relates supporting ministers to how the priests were supported in Israel (which was the tithe), and then says "the Lord has commanded", which either refers to Jesus' commanding something we don't have a record of, or his comments to the religious leaders about tithing in the Gospels (showing that he saw it as valid, and never said anything like "oh, until after I rise from the dead" or "but only in this age, not the church age" etc.). In light of Paul's comments here, and no "qualifiers" elsewhere on tithing (only further comments on "offerings") we feel confident that tithing is a New Testament concept;
1 Corinthians 9:7-14 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? 8 Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of 12 support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
Sarah: Thanks for the Scriptural reference. Regarding 1 Corinthians 9:14, it seems strange to me that Paul would say the Lord has actually commanded preachers of the gospel to receive their living from the gospel and then immediately following that statement say that he refuses to charge money for the preaching of the gospel (v. 18). And then in 1 Thess. 2:9 how hard the disciples worked to avoid being a burden on their brothers and sisters. It seems to me these contradictions, in addition to the fact that Jesus is never shown to have commanded this of us, it would indicate that this isn’t the true meaning of 1 Cor. 9:14.
But besides all that, it says “preachers of the gospel”, not “pastors” of “churches”. Aren’t all Christians preachers of the gospel? Additionally, it’s more likely that Jesus commanded Paul and His Apostles of something like this to them personally at that time. If it was for us today, we would see it pretty clearly. Not to mention, the entire rest of the section of Scripture you’re citing gives us an entirely different message from Paul.
“15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.”
SMCC Draper: Obviously Paul did not wish to use what was his stated right as a minister of the Gospel personally. As was obvious from the beginning of this conversation, we will have to agree to disagree.