Original Research

Is tithing a justifiable development in the Christian church?

Francis L.C. Rakotsoane
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6243 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6243 | © 2021 Francis L.C. Rakotsoane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 July 2020 | Published: 11 May 2021

About the author(s)

Francis L.C. Rakotsoane, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Eswatini, Manzini, Kingdom of Swaziland, Eswatini


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Abstract

With its over 40 000 denominations worldwide, Christianity undoubtedly remains the most fragmented of the religions of the world. One of the main causes of the said fragmentation is apparently the practice of tithing, which both genuine clergy and many shady characters that have disguised themselves as ministers of religion in society regard as the quickest way of accumulating wealth or making money. Anybody who views television programmes on religion and listens to religious leaders who give Christian preaching on various radio stations nowadays cannot fail to observe the aggressive way in which such leaders opportunistically manipulate their followers and listeners to pay tithes using what has come to be generically known as ‘prosperity gospel’. Given the extent to which it has fragmented and continues to fragment the Christian Church, as well as to taint the image of Christianity as a religion, the question asked by many people today about tithing is: Are the Christians as obligated to pay tithes as the Jews under the Mosaic Law? Using typology for its interpretative tool and arguing both scripturally and historically, this article argues that Christians are not obligated to pay tithes because tithing, as part of the temple worship system whose existence ended with Christ’s free self-offering as a sacrifice to God on the cross, foreshadowed free offering to God by Christ’s followers, not obligatory giving by law.

Contribution: This article contributes to the general debate on tithing as practised in the Christian Church today. The article argues that there is no scriptural proof anywhere to validate payment of tithes to the New Testament Church or its ministers.


Keywords

Christian church; denominations; ministers of religion; prosperity Gospel; religious leaders; tithing.

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