A Current Affairs And Social Critic Blog

NO-BULLSHITTING-LOGO-1-150x150-removebg-preview

INVASION OF FUNKY PASTORS, PART 9

NOTE: This blog was uploaded here in 2021 because this is a new site. However, it was actually first published in 2016 

This is another Sunday, the 25th of September, 2016; and, it is time for my mini “Sunday-Sunday Medicine!!!” This, is the third in my mini-series on TITHE IN CONTEMPORARY CHRISTENDOM, in my INVASION OF THE FUNKY PASTORS series. My topic this time is—WHO QUALIFIES TO RECEIVE TITHE & WHY? I discussed this in passing in my last post, in a general summation that “most pastors in Nigeria are not qualified to receive tithe, if my understanding of the Holy Bible on the principles of tithe is anything to go by. Forgive me if I sound a little pompous to declare that I do believe I have enough English knowledge to understand the Good Book well enough to refute some self-serving doctrines of funky pastors. I’m sure you do, too; but you probably have not given as much though as I have. If you did, you probably would subscribe to my argument here.

One thing that all Christians agree upon is that the Holy Bible is the guiding light to our Christian principles; the problem is in the interpretation. The believers agree that anything that is not contained in the bible is not Christian. This makes our task very easy in this hot debate on tithe. All we have to do is find all the passages in the bible that discuss tithe (as I listed in my last discourse), and then analyze them. And, as long as we are sincere and devoid of mischief, we shall unfold the truth. I am trying to do my part in this quest, and I have quoted Deuteronomy 14 in simple English as the most elaborate passage. If anybody wants to show me any passage in the same bible that contradicts this passage, then I am willing to listen.

Show me, for instance, that I am lying to say that there are two types of tithe—ONE ANNUAL, AND ONE EVERY THREE YEARS—as contained in Deuteronomy 14, and confirmed in other passages such as Amos 4:4 (LHB): “Go to Bethel, and sin; go to Gilgal and sin even more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years.” Or, show me where it says that Deuteronomy is wrong to say that the annual tithe is to be feasted on by the tither and his or her family in the presence of the Lord. Or, show me where it says that the tithe of every third year is not to feed the needy, among whom the Levites of old belonged, and only because they qualified as “underprivileged,” the reason being that they were deprived of land and other property (inheritance) by God. Or, show me anything that contradicts my argument—as contained in Deuteronomy 14—that tithe is not even necessarily to be stored in the church in the first place; nor does it have to be in the custody of pastors. Surely, the storehouse could be on the church premises, and pastors could be the custodians, but not necessarily! Finally, let somebody show me where it says that tithe is supposed to be used to build churches or purchase big cars and jets planes, or do anything else, other than feed the needy.

WHO QUALIFIES FOR TITHE & WHY?        

My position is very clear—any pastor today who does not live the lifestyle of the Levites of old, does not qualify to partake in tithes. To qualify, a pastor has to possess the following attributes:

  1. Must be modest and live a moderate lifestyle (like Chris & the Levites);
  2. May not amass material possessions other than basic necessities of life that may be comfortable, but not flamboyant;
  3. Must devote his or her life entirely to the service of God and humanity, just like the Levites did.

Such were the lives of the Levites of the good old days, which qualified them to be deserving of the “food” that others contribute to the storehouse as tithe. Some Nigerian pastors may qualify on the basis of some of those guidelines, but fail woefully on others, especially on the matter of wealth-acquisition. Some boldly tell us that their God is a rich God, to explain their greed for wealth. And, I ask if their God is richer than the God of the humble moderate Christ, who they are supposed to emulate in the first instance.

In my investigation I discovered that some people who actually qualify are a sect of Catholic Priests that are known as “Spiritan Fathers.” Like the Levites, they live simple lifestyles and possess no possessions. They live one day to the next with whatever little comfort that they find around them, liable to be posted out to a worse location and condition the next day. Some orthodox Anglican priests are a little similar to the Catholic Spiritan Fathers, but it seems to me that many of them are getting more materialistic by the day! One thing that the orthodox Anglican and Catholic Churches do have in common is that they do not hit their congregations on the head like a hammer with the mad tithe-drive of the Pentecostal Churches.

The doctrine by the funky pastors that Christians who do not pay tithe to them face automatic hellfire when they die does not exist anywhere in the Holy Bible! According to my bible, and yours too, tithe is tied strictly to EXTRA BLESSING FOR PROSPERITY; it says nothing about heaven or hell. A tither receives extra grace from God for extra-bountiful harvest (or economic success). You may not get the extra blessing for extra-large harvest if you do not tithe; but the bible does not say that you will die of hunger either. It is not my intent here to diminish the importance of tithe in any way; I am only trying to present it more accurately! In any case, I am not even speaking against tithing, God forbid; I am only speaking against wrongful application of tithe.

Let me illustrate with this analogy: You are a parent with two small children. You come home with biscuits for them, and right after you hand the biscuits to them, you ask each child to give back a piece to you so that you may give a neighbor’s child that just walked in. One child gives you a piece (tithe), and the second child says no. You want to teach the renegade child that it is wrong to refuse to share, so you give extra biscuit (extra blessing) to the one that had shared his own biscuit with you (the source) to benefit your neighbor’s child. However, you would still give your renegade child his or her dinner when dinner time comes; you would not starve him; right? I hope not!

If you tithe (give some of your biscuit back to the source), then you receive the extra blessing from the source, God. It does not necessarily say that you will not receive the blessing if you do not pay tithe to pastors, despite what else you may be doing righteously with your wealth. Contrary to this new-wave doctrine of funky pastors, Christ did say clearly—as contained in the above quoted Mathew 23 and Luke 11—that loving your neighbor as you love yourself is more important than tithe. So, if you always love and help your needy neighbors with your wealth, I dare pronounce unequivocally that God recognizes it as your tithe, because that is what tithes are actually meant for in the first place—“food in the storehouse” to feed the needy. Yes, the needy included the Levites in the old days, but only because they “owned no land or any possession of their own,” as decreed by God.

I actually sat nearly an hour one Sunday morning in late 2013 in a new-wave Pentecostal church in Lugbe town, a suburb of Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, Nigeria, when they played a video recording, a so-called testimony of a lady who claimed that non-tithers are doomed to hellfire. The lady in the video claimed to have died once and went mid-way between the living and the dead, where angels revealed to her, among other things, that any Christian that does not pay tithe is going straight to hell when he or she dies.

Hogwash! I said and left the church and left shortly aft the tithe-campaign show video. I saw it exactly for what it was—a big scam to scare the living daylight out of the congregation, so that more people would pay tithe. Surely, there is preponderance of testimonies around the world that near-death experience of the spiritual kind does exist. Sure, there is that possibility that the woman in the HCC video presentation actually had an encounter of the heavenly kind. And, yes, she probably did have some revelations, and, I might have even considered believing some of them. My problem is that her “revelation” about tithe completely negates what the bible says in plain language, so SHE COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE SAYING THE TRUTH. She needed much more than her claim of near-death heavenly experience to convince me that I do not understand the simple grammar in the bible about tithe, or that the bible is wrong. And, since I am conscious of the proliferation of fake pastors and fake testimonies and so-called divine revelations, she would have a lot of work to do in order to convince me that she is not one of the zillions of fraudsters that make money with tithe. Like an American saying goes: ‘she would have to wake up pretty early in the morning’ to hook me with her tithe story!

But, guess what! The video actually worked on the congregation in the Lugbe church—like a charm! Such gimmicks by funky pastors do work very effectively on average human minds. Indeed, some of the more brilliant ones do work on many above-average minds as well. It has worked on me before; and I sure consider my mind to be among the “above average.”

I love to use myself to demonstrate the fact that we are often more vulnerable than we think. I am supposed to be critical-minded; yet I have always confessed that until January 2014, I did not know that there are two versions of tithe; nor did I know that their applications disagree with the indoctrination that many contemporary pastors are feeding their flocks. So, I often felt a little pang of guilt that I was not paying tithe to pastors; sometimes wondering seriously if—as the pastors brainwash us to believe—failure to pay tithe to them was responsible for some of the disappointments in my business/professional life. I did pay my own kind of tithe, mind you—to the needy—but not to pastors. The point is that the tithe-drive gimmicks by pastors did work on my conscience for quite a while. However, there was something else, a stronger counter-force inside the same me at the same time, which made me not to pay tithe, regardless of the guilt feeling. Of course, the counter-force always had a very strong argument of its own. It insisted that paying tithe to pastors under the prevailing conditions in the contemporary Christendom does not make sense at all, at least certainly not the way our contemporary pastors designed it. The voice always said deep inside me that tithe should be modified, and for some pastors abolished entirely, for the following four reasons that I can presently think of:

  1. Tithe is supposed to be “food in the storehouse” so that the needy (“widows, orphans, strangers in the land, and Levites”) WOULD BE FED as stipulated in the bible, and not unworthy pastors. Hence, my argument—even before my discovery of Deuteronomy 12 and 14—is that today’s pastors are not needy, so they should not be fed by anybody. This leads to my second point, thus:
  2. The Levites of old Israel received tithe as needy partakers only because God denied them inheritance; not allowed to own a piece of land, or anything else for that matter. So they qualified for the tithe as “the needy,” to feed themselves; and not to amass wealth. This leads to my third point, thus:
  3. Today’s pastors acquire so much wealth, and some of them are millionaires and billionaires by any currency; yet they still want to take ten percent of the little “food” that their poor followers possess, and amass wealth. Even before my new revelation I have always felt that it does not make sense that a struggling survivor has to give ten percent of his hard-earned income to a billionaire pastor. Mind you, I actually could give fifty percent of my earnings to the needy, but not one percent to a pastor who is probably wealthier, and in some cases obviously wealthier than I. Remember—I am not disobeying God’s command; just interpreting it correctly and refusing to be brainwashed into falsehood!

TITHING WITHOUT GIVING IT TO DEBASED PASTORS

I have already stated in various forms that a Christian can tithe without giving it to a pastor! Yes indeed, there are Christians who are so disgusted about the practices in today’s churches that they do not even go to church on Sundays anymore; but they still believe in the principles of “brother’s keeper” upon which tithe is founded. If you do not give the “food” to today’s pastors who abuse it, but give it directly to the needy in the society; I dare say that you have paid your tithe in full and appropriately! And, you will receive your blessings and prosperity! The funky pastors condemn you only because you have denied them the opportunity to amass wealth at your expense.

TITHE IN OTHER RELIGIONS

The topic of tithe starts in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, and Abraham was the first to pay tithe to Melchizedek the king of Salem, who is also referred to as “the priest of the Most High God.” In other words, the commandment was pronounced before the coming of Jesus Christ and the subsequent institution of Christianity. Logically, this also means that the commandment is not necessarily a Christian commandment. It was given by God to His people—all His people—long before His people split the world into Christianity, Islam and other religions that exist today. I already established the purpose as food in the storehouse—to feed the needy.

The other religions of the contemporary world may not use the term tithe, but they also strive to fulfill the same related mandate of God to mankind—to help the needy; to be our brothers’ keepers. Also, other religions do not operate under the same method as Christians. Indeed, Islam has a different term—Zakat—and a different approach to pursue the same or at least very similar mandate as the Christian tithe. I quote from a Moslem writing, thus: “Zakat (alms) is the name of what a believer returns out of his or her wealth to the neediest of Muslims for the sake of the Almighty Allah. It is called Zakat because the word Zakat is from Zakaa which means, to increase, purify and bless. The obligation of Zakat is mandatory on every Muslim who possesses the minimum Nisaab, whether the person is man, woman, young, old, sane or insane…the proof of Zakat in Al-Qur’an and Sunnah is general and does not exclude young or insane. Allah (SWT) stated that: ‘Of their goods take alms so that thou mightiest purify and sanctify them…’ Every Muslim young or old, sane or insane, needs to cleanse his or her wealth with Zakat because of generality of the evidence.”— (Al-Qur’an, 9: 103).

The founder of Islam—Prophet Mohammed—initiated zakat himself during his lifetime on earth, and it is paid in annual aggregate only once every year during the month of Ramadan. Initially, Mohammed instituted zakat as a voluntary individual offering, but certain forms of zakat were eventually declared obligatory, and placed under State administration. “The Caliph Abu Bakr, believed by Sunni Muslims to be Mohammed’s successor, was the first to institute a statutory zakat system…Ultimately, the practice of state-administered zakat was very short-lived, ending with the reign of Umar bin Abdul Aziz,”  who reigned from 717 to 720 A.D.

Although a few Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan still practice the obligatory form of zakat in the contemporary world, it is voluntary in most Muslim States, and administered by committees within the Mosques who collect and distribute the zakat funds to the needy. This is also true in countries where Islam is not a State religion, such as Nigeria. The Qur’an defines eight categories of people who may benefit from the zakat funds. They include:

  1. Those working in God’s way (that is, workers and clerics in the Mosque).
  2. The zakat collectors themselves.
  3. Children of the street / Travelers.
  4. People whom one is attempting to free from slavery or bondage. This includes blood money or paying ransom for victims of kidnapping.
  5. Those living in absolute poverty.
  6. Non-Muslims who are sympathetic to Islam or wish to convert to Islam.
  7. Those who were restrained because they cannot meet their basic needs.
  8. Those who have incurred overwhelming debts while attempting to satisfy their basic needs.

Items 7 and 8 interest me, because they show that a Muslim that has income can still qualify to benefit from zakat paid by others, if his or her own income is not enough to meet all of his or her basic needs. This principle, which is clearly stated in the Qur’an presents a big difference with the interpretations of tithe by Christians. Whereas many Christians are confused, and actually believe that they must pay tithe on everything that they acquire, including loans and alms that are given to needy people by empathizers to solve specific problems; the Islam Qur’an is apparently clear on the point that a Moslem must solve all his problems from any income or wealth, before he or she may pay zakat. And, indeed, if the income is not enough, he or she can actually benefit from the zakats that are paid by more privileged Moslems. Wonderful, I applaud! It is a refreshing difference from the doctrine of Christian pastors.

According to my readings, the Qur’an has the “traditional” guidelines for the types of wealth and the percentages that are taxable under the zakat, as “the goods that were the basis of most wealth in seventh-century Arabic kingdoms: agricultural goods, precious metals, minerals, and livestock. The amount collected varies between 2.5 percent and 20 percent, depending on the type of goods being taxed.

It is relevant to compare the lifestyles of Muslim clerics and their Christian counterparts, because it makes a lot of difference in the demand for contributions from the faithful. It appears to me that Muslim clerics are generally less materialistic, and they live less flamboyant lifestyles, hence, they make less demands from the faithful than their Christian counterparts…No Bullshitting!

HARRY AGINA writes from the USA

0 Reviews

Write a Review

Read Previous

INVASION OF FUNKY PASTORS, PART 6

Read Next

INVASION OF THE FUNKY PASTORS, PART 10:

235 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

Follow by Email
Instagram