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Tithing: How It Evolved Into Giving Money to the Local Church

Modern-day tithing was decided by a council of Bishops

Modern-day tithing was decided by a council of Bishops

Disclaimer

This Hub is neither promoting tithing nor against it but stating the facts of how giving 10 percent of your income was introduced into the church so that people will be informed.

Thank you Constantine

The question of how tithes went from produce to monetary giving is a hot topic right now because Pastor Creflo Dollar changed his views on the subject. Different church denominations teach and adhere to varied doctrines on the subject of giving 10 percent but there are facts involved in this issue that are nondenominational and universal. I was taught that because money is our current method of exchange this is why we are "required" to tithe but history tells a different story. For the first 300 years of Christianity believers in Christ met in homes and gave as they had purposed in their hearts. When Paul suggested this in II Corinthians 9:7 it actually was already being done before he had his transformation. Although it is preached that tithing as we know it today is Biblical, the giving of 10 percent of your income was actually a Roman Emperor and a council of Bishops who set the modern system in motion for selfish purposes. Emperor Constantine came into power around 323 AD and after he became a Christian he began to make changes to the faith through Catholocism. One of the first was when the council of Nicea met in 325 AD to discuss Christian doctrine. It is believed that this is when December 25th was officially proclaimed as the date to celebrate Christmas. It is the Nicean council image in the cover photo.

Motives

Two of the most significant factors in the way the church operates today that Constantine is responsible for were building elaborate structures (church buildings) and enforcing the giving of 10 percent to pay for them as well as to take care of the clergy. Attending services and tithing were both initiated by a man and not ordained in scripture. The system of tithing as we know it today has nothing to do with the instructions the Lord gave to the children of Israel or what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Luke 11 and Matthew 23. There came a point in Europe when tithes were actually mandated by secular law. This has been described as being more like collecting taxes than imitating of the Jewish system outlined in scripture. While Christ was living on the earth the Old Testament law was still intact and scholars say Jesus is presumed to have been obedient although the Bible does not specify. After His resurrection free will giving was in place such as in Acts chapter 4 where money was given to the Apostles to take care of those in need so that no one among them was in lack. Some people sold possessions and gave 100% to the cause. Saphira and Ananias lied about the amount they gave by saying it was 100% and it was not. (Acts chapter 5) They both fell dead. because they lied to the Holy Ghost.

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Tithing and penalties for not obeying

Constantine was looking for a way to fund the elaborate churches he commanded to be erected and to pay the clergy that he set in place who would do his bidding. It is recorded that the Emperor levied a 10% tax on the people so the clergy could receive big salaries. This is a contradiction of how some interpret Acts, chapter 15, and Galatians 2 where Jewish Christian councils met and discussed circumcision. They concluded that Gentile believers in Christ did not have to obey the law of Moses because they were saved by faith in Christ. It was at this time they decided the Mosiac law which included tithing was no longer in effect. There is disagreement among Biblical scholars as to whether or not these verses indeed abolished the tithe but one issue is clear. The Biblical Old Testament tithe was agriculture but the early Christian church did not honor this custom. Constantine began asking for tithes sometime after 323 AD and he died in May of 337 AD. His method of requiring 10 percent continued and when the Roman Catholic Church Council of Bishops (the Council of Tours) met in 567 AD. they used the Jerusalem Council as a model for their meeting and officially reinstate tithing as monetary giving, You could say they reversed what the first council decided and went back to the old ways with a twist.

Moving forward

In 585 the Council of Macon took this a step further by deciding that any Christian who did not tithe could be excommunicated from the church. ( Please read the links at the end of this Hub for more detail). Therefore, the practice of removing church members from leadership positions or putting them out of the church because they don't tithe came from the early Catholic church and not the Bible but is enforced in many Protestant congregations. To put this in perspective if all the information is correct the giving of 10 percent of gross income began in the Catholic Church. About 50 years after the resurrection of Christ, was when paul and others decided that Gentile Christians were not bound by the Mosiac law. In the early 300s,567, and 585 AD Emperor Constantine and the Catholic Bishop Councils decided that one Old Covenant law would benefit them. By tweaking the tithe and turning it into monetary giving they would themselves be rewarded. This is how tithing agriculture turned into giving money and brought us to our modern-day system. There was required tithing from agriculture, based on the Old Testament Law, then free will giving for the first three centuries after Christ rose from the dead Finally there is going one-tenth of your income which was instituted by Constantine and the Roman Catholic Bishops as a tax levied on the people. Whatever your views on giving it is always beneficial to understand the facts.

Sources

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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