So it's bye bye Sabbath and dietary restrictions. But what will Michael make of tithing? Surely there's no possible confusion here. After all, no Levitical priesthood, no temple, no New Testament precedent... no tithing.
We might reasonably expect Michael to give us a clear message about stewardship though. Things like; be generous, but take care where you send your money, support a variety of worthy causes, make sure they all have transparent financial accountability; you know, stuff like that.
In chapter 20 of Sabbath, Circumcision and Tithing Morrison gets around to tithing. Considering how he ripped so lustily into the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments, readers may be surprised at how coy he now becomes.
Abraham "may have tithed regularly, but we cannot prove it."
And Jacob? "Tithing may have been a part of common worship practices of that time and culture - or it may have expressed an extra level of devotion."
Do tell! The cautious tiptoeing continues. Multiple tithes could be a misreading of the relevant passages, but "this assumption may be wrong."
May indeed! Do we detect the slightest hint of prevarication on these issues? But Morrison is just warming up, here comes the heavy guilt trip.
The Israelites were required to give 10 percent - and their blessing was only a physical one! Christians in the new covenant have much better blessings - spiritual ones. How much more willingly ought we to give in thankfulness for the eternal blessings we have in Christ Jesus? ... Should we give less than a tithe when the blessings we have are so much more glorious than those of the Israelites?Michael goes on to remind us, lest we've somehow overlooked the fact, that Christians are meant to be generous, and "shouldn't we be willing to give more than the minimum?" Indeed, supporting the clergy is "a command for all of us."
Elders, especially those who preach and teach, should be honored financially as well as with respect... people who believe the gospel should provide a living for some who preach. There is a financial duty and there is a promised reward... [Christians] have a duty to support the preaching of the gospel, to give financial support to their spiritual leaders...Well, okay, but do you notice that there's nothing here, absolutely nothing, about the duty of 'spiritual leaders' to be accountable to the membership both financially and in other senses? Nothing about church members having a responsibility to make wise, informed choices about which ministries and other good causes they choose to support?
On the other hand there is an awful lot of harping on about duty from the bottom up. Morrison seems to think duty only flows one way, up to those 'spiritual leaders' from the lay members. Those good folk get soundly whacked around the head by Morrison. And the unmandated leaders of sects like GCI? They apparently get a free ride.
Last time I checked (and please, someone tell me if it's all now changed) the sect that pays Morrison's salary consistently refused to open its books to public scrutiny. The official line was that members could request financial statements, but strangely nobody seemed to know anyone who actually got hold of one. I do know of one US member who naively took church PR at face value and did indeed request a copy. Result? Church HQ contacted the local pastor who informed them that this gentleman had been irregular in attendance for a while. The luckless member then received a terse letter back rejecting his application and indicating that he was effectively in a state of disfellowship!
If Michael and his ministerial mates want to "be honored financially as well as with respect", wouldn't you think it might be a good idea to clean up their act first? Honor and respect need to be earned, and GCI's record of transparency and accountability over the years (decades!) has been, to put it politely, dismal.
To throw money at an organisation which isn't totally up front with financial disclosure, or is run by a self-perpetuating cabal (including a non-elected "president-for-life") and without visible systems of checks and balances is, at least in my view, completely irresponsible, and worse, makes donors into enablers of a dysfunctional structure. That's not tithing, it's just stupid.
Sorry Michael, this chapter is a definite 'fail'.