Who Created the Financial Tithe? A History of the Tithe

Rare is the tither who knows the history of the farce of the modern financial tithe. It is like the theory of evolution—a lie told by so many for so long in so many ways, we accept it as true. To question its truthfulness is to admit to idiocy. Similarly, to question the tithe’s truthfulness is to admit to thievery. 

Yet both lies, evolution and tithing, require a suspension of common sense to believe, a determination to believe what can’t possibly be true, like believing the world is flat in the age of satellites. But the financial tithe requires even more than does evolution for its existence. It requires ignorance of its history.

Where Did the Financial Tithe Come From?

As the Church expanded and various institutions arose, it became necessary to make laws which would insure the proper and permanent support of the clergy. The payment of tithes was adopted from the Old Law… The earliest positive legislation on the subject seems to be contained in the letter of the bishops assembled at Tours in 567 and the [canons] of the Council of Macon in 585.

The Catholic Encyclopedia

“…to make laws which would insure the proper and permanent support of the clergy.”  

This single sentence pulls back the sheets and allows us a full disgusting view of the financial tithe’s dark night of incestuous conception.  Our silent wonderings and whispered misgivings are finally answered.  We understand clearly now why there is such a shocking discrepancy in the beauty of the Father and the ugliness of the child.

God is not the Father.

The tithe is a bastard.[1]

It’s the illegitimate offspring of a religious bureaucracy that impregnated itself and later claimed God as its child’s Father.   

This accusation stings not because it’s irreverent, but because it’s true.  Biblical doctrine and history, as well as secular history, irrefutably deny divine creation of the financial tithe.  The above information comes from the records of the organization that created the financial tithe—the Roman Catholic Church.

It is to the Catholic Church’s credit that they admit to creating the financial tithe several hundred years after the birth of the Christian church to support its growing bureaucracy and army of professional preachers.  They can afford to be this stunningly honest because their religion is foundationally based on the belief that Catholic Church decrees and tradition are equal to, and often superior to, the Bible. 

Protestant churches, however, believe the Bible is the Word of God, and nothing supersedes it—or at least that is our official position.[2]  It is critical, therefore, to the integrity of this position that we be convinced that the financial tithe is God’s child, and not the product of a room full of shrewd bishops.[3] 

For the moment the truth is known, that the financial tithe was birthed by man and not God, our tithe preachers will be judged as frauds and manipulators, or perhaps less sinister, but no less dangerous, as sincere, but ignorant teachers of lies.  

Evolution of the Tithe

It is one thing to create a financial tithe; it is quite another to justify and enforce it.  A short representative survey of church practice and eminent leadership sentiment in the early church on tithing and giving will help you understand the development of this lie. 

Justin Martyr and the Tithe

Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165) was a Christian apologist and martyr who courageously challenged the Roman government in his writings for its persecution of Christians.  One of his books, First Apology of Justin, Section 67, describes in detail a typical Christian meeting.  Here’s what he said about collecting money:

And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.

Notice that it is the “well to do” who willingly gave to the common treasury for those less fortunate.  This was given according to “what each thinks fit.”  Conspicuously absent is a legalistic command to give a certain percentage of income. 

Tertullian and the Tithe

Tertullian was the brilliant apologist and defender of the faith against the heresy of Gnosticism.[4]  His writings (Apology, Section 39) give us a glimpse of third-century fundraising, and its purpose:

Though we have our treasure-chest, it is not made up of purchase-money, as of a religion that has its price. On the monthly day, if he likes, each puts in a small donation; but only if it be his pleasure, and only if he be able: for there is no compulsion; all is voluntary. These gifts are, as it were, piety’s deposit fund. 

For they are not taken thence and spent on feasts, and drinking-bouts, and eating-houses, but to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined now to the house; such, too, as have suffered shipwreck; and if there happen to be any in the mines, or banished to the islands, or shut up in the prisons, for nothing but their fidelity to the cause of God’s Church, they become the nurslings of their confession.

Here is an example of beautiful and simple Christianity before it morphed into an ugly religious organization that disproportionately sucks money into the bottomless pit of clergy salaries and administrative expenses.  Christians voluntarily gave small donations each month into a general fund to help those in dire need. 

This is quite dissimilar to our practice of legalistically pressuring people into giving, this church taught a person to give “only if it be his pleasure, and only if he be able: for there is no compulsion; all is voluntary.”       

Bishop Cyprian of Carthage and the Tithe

Bishop Cyprian (A.D. 200-258) represents those early church leaders who did not advocate the tithe, but who strongly believed the clergy should be involved in no worldly activities that would encroach on its ability to serve the church. 

Of course, this belief, noble as it was, was used in later years by others to create and demand a financial tithe.  That’s one reason why we’re including it here.   

In 249 A.D. he explained that “every one honoured by the divine priesthood, and ordained in the clerical service, ought to serve only the altar and sacrifices, and to have leisure for prayers and supplications.” [5] 

Cyprian’s letter uses the Levites as an example for ministers who are able to devote their full attention to the ministry of the church, which he considered to be prayers and supplications:

…the Levitical tribe, which was left free for the temple and the altar, and for the divine ministries, received nothing from that portion of the division; [the allocation of the land of Canaan among the tribes of Israel once they crossed the Jordan river with Joshua] but while others cultivated the soil, that portion [the Levites] only cultivated the favour of God, and received the tithes from the eleven tribes, for their food and maintenance, from the fruits which grew.

All which was done by divine authority and arrangement, so that they who waited on divine services might in no respect be called away, nor be compelled to consider or to transact secular business.

Which plan and rule is now maintained in respect of the clergy, that they who are promoted by clerical ordination in the Church of the Lord may be called off in no respect from the divine administration, nor be tied down by worldly anxieties and matters;

but in the honour of the brethren who contribute, receiving as it were tenths of the fruits, they may not withdraw from the altars and sacrifices, but may serve day and night in heavenly and spiritual things.  

A careful reading of Cyprian’s short letter reveals that its subject is not the Old Testament tithe, the modern financial tithe, or even financial support of the clergy.[6]  It is the ideal of church sponsored clergy taking care of the church without distractions.  Cyprian mentions the model of the Levites solely for this purpose, and not to encourage a financial tithe.

It is important to correct this error because Cyprian’s letter has been cited by many anti-tithers as his attempt to support the clergy with financial tithes.  This mistake gives the appearance that there was a credible effort to introduce the new tithe system a hundred years before bishops began to do so.[7] 

The sentence in Cyprian’s letter from where this idea comes doesn’t support this view:

 …but in the honour of the brethren who contribute, receiving as it were tenths of the fruits, they may not withdraw from the altars and sacrifices, but may serve day and night in heavenly and spiritual things. 

Cyprian states that the clergy was supported “by the brethren who contribute,” and that this was “as it were tenths of the fruits.”  As it were is a simile, “a figure of speech in which two dissimilar things are compared by the use of like or as.”[8] 

The bishop was stating simply that freewill contributions given to support the clergy and tithes given to support Levites were similar in this manner: the object was to provide modest financial assistance so they could fulfill their leadership duties without distraction.[9] 

It is significant that such a fervent and focused leader (and future martyr) should rely on freewill contributions to fulfill his clergy obligations instead of demanding money through a new tithe system.[10]  If it were possible for him, why is it not possible for us? 

Slide Towards the Tithe

I suppose the slide towards a financial tithe system in the early church was inevitable, human nature being what it is.  On one hand, a mandatory system of church taxation in the name of God would be far more reliable and profitable than freewill offerings. 

Good shepherds with good intentions would be guaranteed unqualified cash flow while they devoted themselves to caring for the church and preaching the gospel.  Thus their personal needs and spiritual obligations and ambitions would be predictably supported. 

Similarly, bad shepherds would benefit by not having to work as hard to extract money from their followers.  The tax system’s built-in promises of blessings for tithers and curses for non-tithers would do the work for them.

Thus good preachers and bad had strong money motives to create and vigorously push the financial tithe myth. Not surprisingly the seeds of deceptive systems of fundraising were already growing even in the first-century church. 

The Apostles Warned the Church About Preachers Who Would Trick Them Out of Their Money

The apostles constantly complained and warned of this danger.  Paul said, “For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God….” (2 Corinthians 2:17).  And Peter added, “…there will be false teachers among you…by covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words” (2 Peter 2:1, 3). 

The apostles’ first-century concern that money-minded preachers were using, and would continue to use, the Word of God to exploit Christians far exceeded their worst fears. 

In those days the danger was obscure traveling preachers who operated on the edges of Christianity.  They’d come into town and dazzle the audience with oratory, deep and mysterious revelations, and tales of spiritual conquest.  Inevitably, (as it is today) this performance would end with the preacher’s hand in someone’s pocket.

Stealing Money from the Saints Through Tithes Goes Mainstream

A few hundred years later, however, the danger of financial molestation had evolved from veiled assaults committed in the dark by scorned individual strangers to blatant attacks committed in the light by respected institutional friends.  In other words, the church began to rape its own.

Gleaning from the research of David Croteau, Ph.D., creator of the blog, Slave of the Word, several bishops during the late fourth century argued for mandatory financial tithes: Hilary of Poitiers (366), Basil of Caesarea (370), Ambrose (374), Chrysostom (375), Jerome (385), and Augustine (400). 

As our earlier Catholic Encyclopedia reference mentions, these individual requests for financial tithes grew into a unified demand from the clergy at the Council of Tours in 567 and the Second Council of Macon in 585.[11]

The church by this time was no longer a despised minority religion violently persecuted by governors and emperors.  In 313 A.D. Emperor Constantine of the Western Roman Empire, and Emperor Licinius of the Eastern Roman Empire, jointly issued the Edict of Milan, a decree of religious toleration. 

This took the church off the enemy of the state list and granted it civil rights.  Its confiscated property was returned, and Christians were then free to participate in the mainstream of Roman society without fear.

In fact, Constantine, who became sole ruler of the Roman Empire in 324 until he died in 337, became a great champion and defender of the church.  He financially supported the church, built it great buildings in which to worship, and passed civil laws that both removed its shame and favored its clergy. 

Naturally, this attracted multitudes of new church members.  In fact, the church grew in such numbers and popularity that in 380 Emperor Theodosius I declared Catholic Christianity the state religion.[12]  Thus the church and the empire formally became one. 

The Holy Bureaucracy Needs A Tithe

For three hundred years prior to Theodosius I, the Christian church had been decaying from simplicity to complexity, from spiritual equality to political hierarchy, from a family of life to an organization of death. 

So, its marriage to the empire was natural and inevitable.  It was also natural and inevitable that complexity, hierarchy, and organization should produce an expensive bureaucracy.[13] 

The Catholic Church, as it now declared itself, developed a religious system of bishops and priests to stand between the people and God.  This requires lots of cash, especially when tastes are fine and hearts are greedy.[14]

The organization required buildings in which to conduct religious services.  This requires lots of cash, especially when buildings are numerous and extravagant. 

For nearly 1200 years, the Catholic Church’s bureaucracy was supported by government grants and extorted tithes, a mixture of favor and fear.  Grants were always dependent on the financial state of the empire.  Fear, however, was constant.  One had to pay tithes to the Catholic Church or else. 

Or else what?

Two threats kept the cash coming.

How the Catholic Church Extorted Tithes

First, religious superstition.  The Catholic Church claimed power to deny heaven to anyone who refused to tithe.  You’re laughing, aren’t you?  You little heathen.  How do you know God didn’t give veto power to the Catholic Church?  He could’ve stationed a bishop at the gates of heaven to check financial records one last time to prevent non-tithers from sneaking their selfish behinds into glory.[15] But who would believe such foolishness?

Remember that we’re talking about a time when most Europeans couldn’t read.  And even if they could, it wouldn’t have helped much.  The printing press had not yet been invented.[16]  Consequently, Bibles were written by hand and were extremely expensive and rare.

Second, civil authority.  Bishops had been complaining for nearly two hundred years that Christians should pay tithes.[17]  But their complaints had been primarily to their congregations and to one another. 

Responses to these grievances were mixed.  Some Christians yielded and it appears most did not.  That’s why in the Council of Tours in 567 and the Second Council of Macon in 585 bishops were still complaining that Christians didn’t tithe.

A couple of hundred years later, however, a new era of civil enforcement of tithes emerged.  In Monastic Tithes: From Their Origins to the Twelfth Century, Giles Constable quotes a (c. 765 A.D.) letter from Frankish King Pepin the Short to Bishop Lull: “You shall so provide and ordain on our authority that everyone, willy-nilly, must pay his tithe.”

Willy-nilly.  I like that.

After the king’s death, his son, King Charlemagne, followed the precedent by commanding in his 779 A.D. capitulary of Heristal that Christians in his kingdom must pay tithes.[18]  Subsequent European rulers passed similar laws. 

As Christianity spread over Europe, and as the church grew politically stronger, it became almost impossible to resist its demand for tithes.  Nonetheless, throughout history many individuals and groups rebelled against this extortion.  But it was not until the Protestant Reformation that its continuance was seriously threatened.

The Reformation and the Demise of the Tithe

The Reformation is the name given the 16th-century international religious and political rebellion against the Catholic Church.  Its official birthday is commonly recognized as October 31, 1517.  On this day, Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation, nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a building. 

Luther’s theses accused the Catholic Church of widespread corruption.  The reformer’s eloquent words and tireless preaching against much of Catholicism inspired far-reaching social, political, and religious revolutions of mixed results.  Luther and the Reformation brought progress and decline, liberty and bondage, life and death.

European nations had always been quite gifted in finding the slightest reasons to declare war on themselves or their neighbors.  The Reformation was too good an opportunity to not use it as an excuse to hurt or kill somebody.  Peasant rebellions, and civil and national wars, ravaged Europe for the next 150 years.[19] 

These bloody conflicts determined whether Catholicism would continue its historic stranglehold, or be replaced by the new religious kid on the block, Protestantism.

The Catholic Church lost many of its military and political battles.  This led to many nations declaring religious declarations of independence from Catholicism, so to speak. 

Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, England, and other nations rejected the Catholic Church for one of the many new non-Catholic Christian denominations.[20]  The pope’s power to impose or manipulate the Catholic Church’s will on others was forever compromised or stopped entirely.

From the Church of England to the American Tithe

King Henry VIII politically severed England from the Catholic Church in 1534 and declared himself “the only Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England.”[21]  But this was done primarily because Pope Clement had refused to grant the adulterous king a divorce so he could dump his wife for a young babe. 

Consequently, substantive religious reform didn’t occur until his son, King Edward, ruled.  But once death ended the teenager’s seven-year, pro-Protestant reign, the fanatically Catholic Queen Mary reimposed Catholicism in the kingdom. 

These reforms were similarly gutted and replaced by newer, permanent Protestant reforms when death claimed her wretched soul after a bloody six-year reign.

Nonetheless, the eventual demise of Catholicism in England and ascendancy of Protestantism did not end religious strife in the nation.  Englanders weren’t content to kick the Pope’s hat down the street.  Now many of them turned their restless agitation to Protestant infighting.

The pressing argument was who was the true champion of anti-Catholic religion? Whose brand of Christian religion was free of Catholic influence?  Was it the Anglicans?  The Congregationalists? 

According to one sizeable and fanatically energized influential group, the so-called Puritans, King James I (1603-1625) and King Charles I (1625-1649) were compromisers of the Protestant faith. 

Puritans denounced the government as a pawn of the pope and generally made the king’s life miserable.  As might be expected, he made their lives more miserable.  This prompted many of them (and others) to leave England for America—a land where they could practice religion free of Catholic influence, and not be persecuted for doing so. 

American Religion Without Tithes

The Catholic tithe in Europe proved its resilience and survived the Reformation.  But would it survive the trip across the Atlantic Ocean? 

Surprisingly, anti-pope/anti-Catholic sentiment appears to have been deep enough to cast the tithe overboard on the journey.  Yet even more surprisingly, at least to my 21st-century American mind, is that the settlers overwhelmingly established local government churches. 

But I guess this is understandable.  They did have a heritage of 1400 years of government religion under the Catholic Church, and most recently the Church of England.

Religion historian and dean of the divinity school at Vanderbilt University, James Hudnut-Beumler, states that “As the Revolution began [1775], ten of the original thirteen states had some form of tax-supported religion.”[22]  He further states:

During the nearly two centuries while religion was understood by early Euro-Americans as a public good deserving public support, a variety of means to finance religion evolved, much as a hodgepodge of user fees, licenses, and taxes is used to this day to pay for public goods…In the case of religion, there were poll and property taxes, which could be quite high….[23]

Bill of Rights Kicks Religion Off Public Welfare and Gives Birth to Tithes

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….” 

This 1791 law slowly but irresistibly dried the financial stream that once flowed from local governments to church budgets.  Preachers and churches, therefore, had to create new systems of fundraising.

Dr. James Hudnut-Beumler describes in well documented detail the evolution of new religious fundraising.[24]  The process went from receiving taxes to renting pews to asking for offerings to demanding tithes.[25] 

So the church in America that left the Church of England because it looked too much like the Church of Rome became a Protestant version of the Church of Rome.

This amazing departure from truth and freedom, and return to lies and bondage, required religious cunning and creativity—it still does.  But cunning and creativity are two things tithe preachers have in abundance.  Yet, this abundance birthed by financial necessity is no match for spiritual truth and common sense. Or is it?  

First, the Tithe, then the Firstfruits Scam

Some of the most ridiculous, blatant, and heartless money grabs of tithe preachers come in the form of the firstfruits scam. The basic premise of the scam is that in addition to the tithe, God requires us to give tithe preachers an offering called the firstfruits offering.

Yeah, you read that right. Ten percent of our gross income for life is not enough. We also have to give—better yet, pay—a mandatory offering.

Well, you say, I’ll just give a little something and get the preacher off my back. Uhhh, it’s not that easy.

You see, this particular offering has a set of variable rules that you must follow. What kinds of rules? Well, here again, it’s not that simple as listing the rules. The reason is the rules vary with the preacher you serve. Some say this; some say that.

Some require an annual firstfruit offering.

Some require it when unbudgeted bills are due.

Some require one to celebrate the pastor’s birthday, or the pastor’s wife’s birthday, or the pastor’s anniversary, or the pastor and his wife’s wedding anniversary, or whatever else they can dream up.

How much is this offering? I don’t know why you keep asking these trick questions.

This varies, too. Some preachers use the term tithe and firstfruits interchangeably, and some say it’s an additional offering. (If you’re going to go for bondage, I suggest you follow a preacher who uses the term interchangeably. At least this way, you satisfy the demands of the tithe and firstfruit with the same ten percent of your income.)

What makes this a scam is the money grab is done in the name of obeying a mandate from Almighty God via His number one representative, the preacher. Obey the preacher’s unique interpretation of the firstfruit requirement and God will bless you. Don’t obey the preacher and God will curse you.

I have not chosen to deal directly with this scam in length in this book. It’s unnecessary. Virtually everything I say about the tithe applies to the firstfruit scam. Others, however, have given more direct and comprehensive attention to it in their books.[26]

Three Things You Need to Know About the Firstfruits Offering

Nonetheless, there are three things I want to briefly bring to your attention regarding the firstfruit offering error.

First, like the tithe, the firstfruit offering is not money. It’s an edible item.[27]

Second, the terms firstfruit offering and tithe are not interchangeable. They have different meanings that will only lead you into irreconcilable confusion if you try to consistently use one word in the place of the other.[28]

Third, the firstfruit offering is representatively defined, but not quantitatively defined in the Bible.[29] Attempts to place numerical values on the firstfruit offering are fleshly assumptions.

(This article is an excerpt from my book, What Preachers Never Tell You About Tithes & Offerings. You may see it on Amazon.)

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[1] I apologize if my use of this word offends you.  It is a word that connotes shame and illegitimacy, but in my opinion is not a “curse” word in the traditional sense.  I use it in the same way it is used in Hebrews 12:8 of the King James Version of the Bible.

[2] Galatians 1:8-9; 2 Timothy 3:16.

[3] “Protestant” is the name given to Christians who formally broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century Reformation for its abuses and superstitions, and those who later joined churches that identify with this movement. 

Unfortunately, our tendency to believe our own decrees and traditions above the Bible shows that we have more in common with Roman Catholicism than we admit.

[4] Various loosely connected doctrines of mysticism that conflicted with the foundational beliefs of Christianity.

[5] Epistle 65.1 of Cyprian; Christian Classics Ethereal Library; http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf05.iv.iv.lxv.html; Retrieved December 30, 2008.

[6] The word “clergy” has well deserved negative connotations: fleshly control, greed, pride, self-gain, elitism, etc.  Nonetheless, I use it here to identify those among the universal priesthood of believers who are called by God in a leadership role to “take care of the church of God” (1 Timothy 3:5), to “watch out” for our souls (Hebrews 13:17), and to “shepherd the flock of God” (1 Peter 5:2).

[7] It is important to know the correct timeline of the creation and evolution of the modern tithe.  Otherwise, we may miss the connection between clergy salaries and buildings, and the modern financial tithe.

[8] The New Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

[9] Cyprian hated covetousness and was famous for his detachment from worldliness and materialism.  These were primary considerations when he was uncharacteristically chosen as bishop of Carthage, an eminent and large city in the Roman Empire, after only three years of serving Christ (The Life and Passion of Cyprian, Bishop, and Martyr – by Pontius the Deacon; Section 1).

[10] Are we more fervent and focused than Bishop Cyprian, who sold his estate and gave the proceeds to the poor, and who sealed his testimony with his own blood?  If such a man could trust God to take care of him through the generosity of His saints, why can’t our modern leaders do the same?

[11] Why were bishops arguing for the creation of a financial tithe?  Two reasons: (1) Historically, the church did not have a financial tithe; (2) Their ambitions and bureaucracy now exceeded the limitations of freewill offerings.

[12] Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, 1967, 2nd ed., p. 22.  A part of the actual decree, extracted from the Codex Theodosianus XVI 1.2., says, “We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since, in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics…They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation and in the second the punishment of our authority which in accordance with the will of Heaven shall decide to inflict.” This wasn’t a good time to not be a Christian!

[13] Organization by itself is not bad, and it is a mistake to celebrate failure to plan and chaos under the guise of being led of the Spirit.  This is a fault of many foolish, lazy, and undisciplined Christians.

[14] This is not to say that every ancient bishop and priest was greedy.  That generalization would be unfair and inaccurate.  But it is historically accurate to refer to the much documented material excesses and unprecedented greed of the Catholic Church during this period.

[15] I challenge you tithers to look in the mirror and ask yourselves the same question.  They believed the benefits of their salvation were directly limited by their participation or nonparticipation in the revived and modified tithe system.  Isn’t this what you believe?  Aren’t you “cursed with a curse” for not giving ten percent of your income to the church bureaucracy? 

There’s not a lot of difference in your 21st century superstition and theirs.  Actually, yours is a lot worse because you have access to the Bible.  You have no excuse for your bondage.  Preachers may have placed the chains of superstition on your soul, but you refuse to use the key of the Bible to free yourself.

[16] The Gutenberg press was invented in 1450.  Other earlier printing technologies existed in Asia, but were impractical for mass production.

[17] Recall Dr. David Croteau’s research on the writings of the early church fathers: Hilary of Poitiers (366), Basil of Caesarea (370), Ambrose (374), John Chrysostom (375), and Augustine (400).

[18]A capitulary is a document “recording the legislative acts of certain Carolingian kings:”  Medieval France: An Encyclopedia; p. 169; William W. Kibler, Grover A. Zinn, John Jr. Bell Henneman and Lawrence Earp; published 1995 by Routledge.  A translation of this capitulary may be read in Readings in Medieval History, 3rd edition; p. 297; number 7; Patrick J. Geary.

[19] This period of time and its conflicts are known as the Wars of Religion.

[20] The most famous religious divorce between a country and the Catholic Church was that of France.  The general uprising of the French people against the Church, coupled with corresponding actions by the government, exploded into what is commonly known as The French Revolution.

[21]  The parliament of England passed the first Act of Supremacy which made the king the head of the Church of England. 

[22]   From page 9, In Pursuit of the Almighty’s Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism by James Hudnut-Beumler. Copyright (c) 2007 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.unc.edu .

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid; (pp. 3-75).

[25] James 2:1-4, 9 says, “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.  For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts…but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” 

Yet, not surprisingly, under pressure to raise money, the Church disregarded this basic command of love and shamefully rented pew seats the same way stadiums rent seats today.  The more money you pay, the better the location of your seat.  Unfortunately, this was a mainstream practice of the Church. 

[26] Michael L. Webb and Mitchell T. Webb thoroughly debunk this error in Beyond Tithes & Offerings, (pp. 117-130), copyright 1998.

[27] Leviticus 2:14, 23:17; Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 18:4.

[28] Here is one example of many where tithes and firstfruits are clearly not the same thing: “And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the firstfruits, and the tithes….” (Nehemiah 12:44.

[29] Here’s a sample of  the word firstfruits being used figuratively: Romans 8:22-23, 16:5; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23; James 1:18; and Revelation 14:4. This is the same way you should interpret Scriptures similar to this one: “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase” (Proverbs 3:9).

If God uses the word figuratively, why would you allow some preacher to put you into legalistic bondage by convincing you that firstfruits mean ten percent of your income, or some other figure he pulls out of the air?   

Eric M Hill

Eric M Hill is an author, blogger, YouTuber, and Bible teacher. He has written sixteen books. He is a member of the Authors Guild and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

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