The teaching about tithing is one of the fundamental tenants of the Word of Faith movement. In their circles it is known as the “law of prosperity!”. One of their lies about tithing is that the early Church practiced tithing and the Church Fathers were in favor of tithing. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Let us first examine the writing of Saint Irenaeus who was one of the early Church Fathers:
Who was Irenaeus?
Saint Irenaeus, was bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, which is now Lyons, France. His writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. He was a notable early Christian apologist. He was also a disciple of Polycarp, who was said to be a disciple of John the Evangelist. His best-known book, Against Heresies (c 180) enumerated heresies and attacked them. Irenaeus wrote that the only way for Christians to retain unity was to humbly accept one doctrinal authority—episcopal councils.Irenaeus was the first to propose that all four gospels be accepted as canonical.
From Irenaenus’ Popular Book – Against Heresies
Chapter XIII.-Christ Did Not Abrogate the Natural Precepts of the Law, But Rather Fulfilled and Extended Them. He Removed the Yoke and Bondage of the Old Law, So that Mankind, Being Now Set Free, Might Serve God with that Trustful Piety Which Becometh Sons.
“And for this reason did the Lord, instead of that [commandment], `You shall not commit adultery,’ forbid even concupiscence; and instead of that which runs thus, `You shall not kill,’ He prohibited anger; and instead of the law enjoining the giving of tithes, to share all our possessions with the poor; and not to love our neighbors only, but even our enemies; and not merely to be liberal givers and bestowers, but even that we should present a gratuitous gift to those who take away our goods”
Please pay attention that Irenaeus saying “…instead of the law enjoining the giving of tithes, to share all our possessions with the poor…”.
Here is another passage by Irenaeus on the same book “Against Heresies”:
Chapter XVIII.-Concerning Sacrifices and Oblations, and Those Who Truly Offer Them.
“And the class of oblations in general has not been set aside; for there were both oblations there [among the Jews], and there are oblations here [among the Christians]. Sacrifices there were among the people; sacrifices there are, too, in the Church: but the species alone has been changed, inasmuch as the offering is now made, not by slaves, but by freemen. For the Lord is [ever] one and the same; but the character of a servile oblation is peculiar [to itself], as is also that of freemen, in order that, by the very oblations, the indication of liberty may be set forth. For with Him there is nothing purposeless, nor without signification, nor without design. And for this reason they (the Jews) had indeed the tithes of their goods consecrated to Him, but those who have received liberty set aside all their possessions for the Lord’s purposes, bestowing joyfully and freely not the less valuable portions of their property, since they have the hope of better things [hereafter]; as that poor widow acted who cast all her living into the treasury of God.
Please notice that Irenaeus saying ” …And for this reason they (the Jews) had indeed the tithes of their goods consecrated to Him, but those who have received liberty set aside all their possessions for the Lord’s purposes…”
Here he contrasts between the Jews living under the law and the New Testament Christians who were living in the liberty of Jesus Christ.
* Irenaeus believed that tithing was part of the law of Moses.
* These statements by Irenaeus proves that the early Christians did not tithe.
* The early Christians believed that they were commanded to share all their possessions with the poor INSTEAD of tithing.
* Irenaeus recorded that the Jews had tithed but Christians set aside all their possessions. He actually contrasted between Old Testament Jews and New Testament Christians!
* Money is not mentioned by Irenaeus at all.
It is interesting to see that these writings appear in his book “Against Heresies“. Irenaenus probably would have labeled all modern day tithe teaches as heretics!
Therefore my friends, please realize that the early Church never practiced tithes and they did not even believe that they were commanded to tithe unlike what our modern day tithe teacher tell us.
May the Lord open the eyes of whoever reads this blog post about the dangers posed by the mammon loving Word of Faith preachers.