Monday, August 1, 2011

Review: Tithing By Douglas Leblanc

I recently the book Tithing by Douglas Leblanc.  It is a book that has multiple stories in it about how tithing has effecting different people.  I started this book to see what the author had to say about a subject that is so fundamental to my christian faith.
Unfortunately I found the book to be a bit dull.  I did not see how many of the stories connected to each other.  Even grater disappointment though was the lack of ties to biblical and theological truths about tithing.  In my opinion these are imperative when writing about any such subject.
I did like the narrative approach that Leblanc took with the book but I think that the follow through was a bit lacking.

I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

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1 comment:

sonofbard said...

Malachi 3:10 is the text that is so often quoted in relation to promoting the practice of tithing, but it is so often divorced from its context.

What is the context of Malachi 3:10? Firstly, we must understand to whom Malachi spoke. He spoke to a post-exilic community whose life was to centre around the worship of its God, Yahweh. This wasn't happening. Specifically, Malachi was speaking to the priesthood. Secondly, Maclachi was calling them to account and issuing indictment against them for covenant faithfulness, intermarriage, divorce, abominable sacrifices and social injustice.

Another important idea that must be dealt with when talking about tithing from this verse is just what Malachi means when he speaks of "the storehouse". There is only one other time where this term is used, and that is in Nehemiah (which co-incidentally occurs around the same time and includes the same audience).

Neh 10:38 And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes. And the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse.

What were the priests of Malachi's day failing to do? They were failing to bring the tithe into the storehouse.

The tithe was to be a portion of all that the people _voluntarily_ brought as offerings before the Lord and the only compulsory aspect of it concerned the priesthood and their duty to store some of it away. It was primarily a concern for social justice, a concern to see that both widows and orphans and the poor of Israelite social life were taken care of.

Whatever else this verse has been used to say is a detraction from the Lord's concern to have an obedient priesthood whose obedience would flow over into a general concern for the poor and marginalised within Jewish social life.