Friday, February 05, 2010

TITHING by Douglas Leblanc

If you are a regular visitor to my blog you know that I made a decision to cut back on the number of books I review each month. In pursuit of excellence I have decided that the quality of reviews is better than the quanity.So I will be reading fewer review books this year. I want to accept for review only those books I am interested in myself.

Tithing is one of the books in The Ancient Practices Series being edited by Phyllis Tickle and published by Thomas Nelson. A text for this series is: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16 NIV. I selected a book on tithing not because I am unfamiliar with the subject, but because I am. All my Christian life I have given a tithe and more. I began when I was a teenager and have continued until now. My wife and I have always set aside at least a tithe of our income before anything else came out. My interest in this particular book is the fact that it was written from a completely different viewpoint than any I have known or studied before.

Douglas Leblanc is Editor at Large for The Living Church, and has also written for Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, Compassion International, and Anglicans United. He and his wife live near Richmond, Virginia, where they attend Saint Matthew's Episcopal church. He traveled to seven states and a dozen cities within those states. He talked to a pastor on Chicago's tough South Side to a progressive Episcopal priest...from an Eastern Orthodox priest to a Seventh day Adventist to an orthodox rabbi. He also talked to political and social activists. In forty-seven years of ministry I have never had a close association with these people. I have been left to assume what they believe on this subject--or any subject. My assumptions have been wrong.

Leblanc discovered they have one important thing in common: a fervent belief that the ancient practice of tithing has enriched their lives and filled them with uncommon joy. For many of them tithing was not necessarily the endpoint of generosity. Those Leblanc interviewed are far more social in their expression of religion than I am. This I already knew. They are compassionate and tenderhearted people. I too want to be like that I just don't put my emphasis on social justice although I believe it to be an important part of the message of Christ. My emphasis is on reaching out to the lost with the message of Christ for the salvation of their souls.

I will close with a quote from the author that sums up his view on tithing: "As we open our otherwise tight grip on what we think of as our money, we begin to realize it has come our way only by the grace of God. As we draw closer to people who need the compassion of Christ, we end up--perhaps even unwittingly--drawing closer to God. It is all God's idea and work,ultimately, but we may choose to become his instruments."

(A free copy of this book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishing Company)


Cherdecor said...

My parents left a denomination 60 years ago because their gospel was the Heffer Project. There was nothing wrong with the Heffer Profect, but the denomination left out the gospel they once had.

Now that I am married I have realized that even though we have tithed religiously all our lives, we didn't give much above that other than to missions. Of course, we never had that much because we were in ministry.

Now that we have "enough" for ourselves, we have been finding ways to give. We are finding it rather hard to give here in the US so we must look to Samaritans Purse to help us give where there is a need. I think they have a good balance in giving out the gospel and giving to peoples' needs.

Ruthie said...

good post. So many new believers need to learn the blessings of tithing and giving over and above the tithe.

Mevely317 said...

This has given me pause, Clif.

My last congregation in Florida didn't practice tithing; rather, giving on a "love offering" basis. Their "books" were consistently in the black!

Still, I think that's a rarity. I think we feel better, inside, when we make a conscious decision to give with a joyous heart.

Caroline said...

Interestingly, in the past week I have been asking a few of my Christian friends and among them those who teach Theology about this subject of tithing. Thank you for writing about this and letting us know of the book.

bp said...

Thanks for sharing your review. I saw this one at Thomas Nelson.

Hope you have a good week!