• I see a big error in your blog. You said, “For instance, the Bible teaches the financial principle of tithing – that is, giving 10 percent of our incomes away.”

    The Bible teaches no such thing. The Biblical tithe was never money, and it never came from anyone’s income. Your statement comes from common false teaching in today’s church services.

    The Biblical tithe always came from GOD’S INCREASE of food from crops and animals and never from man’s earnings (Leviticus 27:30-33). Man can cultivate the land, plant and water the seed, but only God can give the increase (changing the seed into fruit). In other words, the Biblical tithe came from God’s labor, not man’s labor.

    The tithe had NOTHING to do with finances.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    The tithe that Malachi teaches about combined donations to support the operation of the temple in Jerusalem with a promise by god to “open the windows of heaven” to pour out a blessing that would be overflowing.

    While some people don’t like to feel an obligation to make a specific sacrifice of their “increase” or income to God’s work on earth, other denominations teach that God’s words to Malachi are still in force. The US denomination that most closely conforms to that standard is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”). Not only do they voluntarily donate one tenth of their income to support their church (which covers all church construction, maintenance, and utilities), they also donate to funds to provide humanitarian aid around the world (including water supply projects and relief from disasters in Haiti and Japan), to provide educational loans in developing nations, to support full time missionary service by 80,000 young men and women (about $400 per month per missionary), and they fast from food for the first Sunday of each month and donate the money saved to help the needy. Additionally, Mormons donate all services, including all leadership and teaching positions in every congregation, so there is no cost for pastors, as well as donating service in growing food on church owned farms to help feed the poor, and retired members donate their time and expertise, including as engineers, educators and attorneys.

    On top of that, the University of Pennsylvania found that Mormons donate just as much money and time to causes outside their church as do people in other denominations. As an example of this, last Christmas the Mormon congregations in my city donated boxes of food to the local Salvation Army food warehouse, each of the standard boxes costing about $40. In each congregation of about 300 people (including families with children) there were about 75 such boxes donated, and they constituted the primary source of this food for the Salvation Army in our area.

    Mormons have served as young adult missionaries in most of the nations of the world, living among them and learning their languages and cultures, so the people there are not abstractions to them, but personal friends. A colleague of mine who served with me as a missionary in Japan has been living in Tokyo and administering aid to the people hit by the tsunami of 2011. Another friend was the bishop of the Mormon congregation in Kobe when that city was devastated by earthquakes in 1994. The Mormons form a global network of personal relationships that identify needs and focus resources. They have proven that a real tithe is not unrealistic, and indeed many donate as much as 15% of their incomes, plus more through their labor.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Let me add one other point. The LDS Church has consistently been growing at a rate that doubles its membership every twenty years or less, including children of members and converts. By the year 2100, it is likely that the current 14 million Mormons in 150 nations will become around 250 million Mormons worldwide, with perhaps 100 million in the US. That expanding force of self-sacrificing Mormons will provide the funds to accomplish all of the things you spoke about, and more.

  • Dave

    There’s a catch-22 to this argument: if Christians tithe an additional 1% of their income, and give it to the local church, the vast majority of that money will go to operating expenses, staff salaries, etc. Very little will make it out into the mission field. For the $52 billion to have an immediate impact, it would need to go directly to relief organizations, and only those whose administrative expenses take only a modest percentage of contributions. The problem with that, however, is the church doesn’t consider that a tithe- they don’t even know the money is being given. I know many people who give much less than 10% to the local church, but more than make up for the rest by giving to other charitable organizations.

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