Fundamentalists generally rail against the so-called “health and wealth” gospels that promise prosperity to anybody who has enough faith to pretend to be an Old Testament Jew. Instead, the fundamentalists insists that financial prosperity is only for those who have enough faith to tithe like an Old Testament Jew. And you might still get sick — otherwise we would have nothing to talk about during prayer request time on Wednesday Night.
Along with this promise of the windows of heaven opening up a blessing upon modern day tithers there also is a warning that if a person does not tithe that God will make his car break down or his dog die or visit some other calamity upon him of equal or greater value than his tithe. Of course, none of these things ever happen to tithers. Ever.
It’s quite a reality check when hard economic times come and affect both the tither and non-tither alike. It seems the rain really does fall upon the just and the unjust alike. Not that you’ll ever hear that verse used in a tithing sermon.
So bring your tithes into the storehouse and give of the first fruits of your labor. Only don’t try giving actual fruit. We prefer cash in small unmarked bills.
The doorbell jingles as two men in dark suits briskly enter the small restaurant. Wasting no time, they head right for the counter. Mr. Campello, the proprietor, tries to ignore the icicles forming in his gut and greets them with a forced smile.
“Tony, Jimmy, what can I do for you today?”
“We’re just out visiting some of our folks in the neighborhood,” says Jimmy easily. “Just seeing how folks are doing.”
“We’re fine here, fellas. Everybody is getting by.”
“That’s good to know” answers Jimmy. “Because accidents can happen so easily in places like this. You know what I mean?”
“You know how this works,” says Tony. “You just make a ‘donation’ of ten percent and it saves a lot of unpleasantness. If you don’t contribute then the Boss sees to it that things break and your people run into trouble. It will cost you a whole lot more than a measly ten.”
“I already give what I can. Business hasn’t been great….”
“It’s either ten percent up front or you’ll find that things are going to get ugly in mysterious ways. We’ll be seeing you soon.”
The doorbell jingles again as the two make their way outside.
“Who were those guys?” asks a customerÂ seated at the lunch counter. “Mafioso types?”
“Worse,” groans Mr. Campello holding his face in his hands “deacons from my church. The mob hasn’t got anything on the protection racket that the Baptists have going. God is their Enforcer.”
“Storehouse Tithing” is a favorite topic among fundamentalist pastors, especially when building project fever strikes a congregation. And why not preach on tithing regularly? It’s a frequent theme through Scripture as evidenced by at least 3 or 4 verses in the New Testament — most of which involve Jesus using it as example of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. And then there are all the times when the command is given to the church. There’s…uh…well…I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.
Asking a fundamentalist to explain this lack of New Testament commands about tithing will likely be met by a lecture on “evil questioning” and a few hand-picked verses from the Old Testament that fundies somehow know are still applicable today. One can only assume there is a special class in “Figuring Out Which Old Testament Stuff The Church Still Needs To Do” given at the local basement bible college. (Short Answer: Whichever parts don’t involve giving up cotton blend shirts or bacon)
A fun experiment is asking a fundy whether or not 9% of their tithe is kept in the levitical refuge cities. After all, if we’re following the Scripture let’s follow all of it, amen?
Now where did I put my wave offering….