Letters to the Editor (October)

Talk about tithing

In last month’s commentary, Philip Meinzen urges pastors to talk more about tithing so that Christians may know the “ ‘transactional’ benefits,” “economic vitality,” and “relational benefits” that result from giving the first tenth of their income “to the Lord.”  “As I trust and give to God, He reveals Himself to me,” Meinzen wrote.  And, “Talking about tithing in the kindness of Christ will strengthen our faith.”

But it was the pagans who lived by the principle do ut des (“I give so that you may give in return”).  The pagan gave some of his sheep back to the gods to make sure they kept the sheep coming.

The Triune God does not give because we give something back.  Nor does the Christian give in order to secure God’s blessings. Instead, a Christian gives to his neighbor.  God gives us body, soul, eyes, ears, and all our members, our reason and all our senses, also clothing, shoes, meat, drink, house, home, wife, children, fields, cattle, and all our goods not so that we might give Him His cut, but that we might serve our neighbor who needs them.  As Luther put it, God does not need our works.  Our neighbor does.  God does not need our money.  Our neighbor does. 

There is no instance in the New Testament (Matt. 23:23 refers to Pharisees still under the old Law) where Christians are exhorted to give money or any other “stuff” to God.  Instead, we are to give to those who need it — the poor saints in Jerusalem, our family, our neighbors, the pastor who preaches the Gospel.

“The promise in the tithe” applies to Christians no more than the promises attached to the Old Testament sacrifices.  Abraham and Jacob offered those too.  They too were codified in Leviticus.  But the animal sacrifices were fulfilled in Christ, and so was the tithe. 

Urging Christians to tithe does not strengthen faith any more than urging them to sacrifice rams.  Only the Holy Spirit strengthens faith and He does so through the Gospel and the Sacraments.

With Christians, there is no self-righteous “10 percent for God, 90 percent for me” rule.  Every part of us has been released from the devil’s bondage.  Every part of us now belongs to Christ.  What better way to prove our freedom than to use it as Jesus did? 

God gives freely.  We give freely.

Rev. Brent McGuire
Dallas, Texas

It was a joy to see the commentary on tithing.

My wife and I began tithing in 1959 while we were struggling to finish at the seminary.  The blessings that God has given us defy description.  With no inheritance, not in Social Security, and starting our first savings account at well over 50 years old, there was little hope that we would be ready for retirement.

Living in parsonages almost all of my ministry left us with a need for a home at retirement.  We had our home built, a miracle all its own.  We are quite comfortable in a financial way because of the miraculous provision of God.

Tithing is not a law, as many have pointed out.  However, it is a biblical principle of blessings.

God talks about tithing in Deut. 14:23 and concludes the verse with these words: “that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.”  Of course, the well-known verse in Mal. 3:8-10 about the windows of heaven is to be noted. 

Finally, Jesus’ own words in Matt. 23:23: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”  Jesus was saying [that] having done the other, they should not leave tithing “undone.”

My wife and I are compelled in our spirit to praise our merciful God for His abundant provisions.

Rev. James R. Roberson
Knoxville, Tenn.

Name change

The past Synod convention did not positively address the needed change in our name.

Yes, it is historic; and yes, change is hard.  However, “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” does not describe us to those to whom we would witness outside of our church body.  Furthermore, it is confusing.

I just finished a lengthy correspondence with some Christian brothers, explaining our name and our theological positions.  To people in Missouri, Minnesota, etc. — where our church is more concentrated — it may not seem as important.  But in other areas, it is a lost chance to witness.

There are many possibilities.  The word “evangelical” appears in the charters of many of our older churches, and even on the outside of some buildings.  We have allowed the ELCA to usurp this word, where it is misapplied, from my perspective. The word “confessional” might be used to advantage.  Since we are engaged with confessional Lutheran churches around the world, I would suggest “Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church.”

In this time of emphasis on witnessing to nonmembers, especially through Ablaze!, we need a more descriptive name.

Dr. Hubert L. Dellinger
Memphis, Tenn.

Please send letters via e-mail to REPORTER@lcms.org or by mail to REPORTER Letters, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295.  Please include your name, postal address, and phone number.  Letters may be edited for length and clarity. — Ed.

Posted Sept. 27, 2007

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