REFUTING CREFLO DOLLAR'S SERMON
"Being Free to Tithe"
By: Victor T. Stephens
Should We Give a Tithe Because Jesus Went to Hell for Us?
Creflo Dollar says we should be thankful for what Jesus has done for us … including going to Hell in our place. Therefore, our giving … which ought to be at least ten percent of our monetary income, should be a reflection of our appreciation for what Christ did 2000 years ago.
Mr. Dollar is correct in that we should be appreciative for what Jesus has done for the Church. But, in his emotional appeal argument, here are the problems with Dollar’s rationalizations:
To begin with, Jesus did not go to Hell to suffer in our place. The atonement of Christ is another doctrine that Creflo Dollar has iniquitously tailored. According to Word- Faith theology, the sacrificial work on the cross by Jesus was inadequate to atone for the sins of mankind. Mr. Dollar and other Word-Faith proponents have used several passages of Scripture out of context to devise a variant doctrine that includes the inefficiency of Christ's blood alone to atone for the sins of mankind. Rather than the finished work of Christ being completed on the cross, salvation was allegedly concluded in the torments of Hell.
Creflo Dollar's close friend, Fred Price, echoes Dollar's sentiments:
"Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God." (Fred Price, "Ever Increasing Faith Messenger", June 1980)
Dollar's "spiritual father", Kenneth Copeland had this to say:
"The Word of the living God went down into that pit of destruction and charged the spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly His twisted, death-wracked spirit began to fill out and come back to life. He began to look like something the devil had never seen before. He was literally being reborn before the devil's eyes. He began to flex His spiritual muscles.... Jesus was born again-the first-born from the dead."
(Kenneth Copeland, "The Price of it All", Believer's Voice of Victory, September 1991)
So, if Jesus did not go to Hell in our place, where did He go? Jesus went to a place called "paradise". Paradise was the region where the righteous dead remained until after the death of Christ. It was a place of astonishing blessedness and was regarded as "Abraham's Bosom" (Luke 16:22). Remember in Luke 23:43 Jesus said to the thief on the cross, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." At Christ's ascension, He transported the righteous saints (including the thief) along with the region of paradise from the "lower parts of the earth" to Heaven; its present location.
(2 Cor. 12:2-4; Rev. 2:7)
Now … moving to my next point:
God does not want a tithe of our money as evidence of our appreciation for Him. God wants one-hundred percent of us. Thus, it is the body of the believer --- our total self, which belongs to God. Consider the following passages:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1)
"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."
(1 Cor. 6:19-20)
"And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God." (2 Cor. 8:5)
Under the new covenant, the believer’s chief instruction is to, "offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God...." In other words, we should dedicate ourselves to God and make every endeavor to honor Him with all things while passionately utilizing the spiritual gifts the Lord has given to us. We should also give thanks to God who has given us His Son’s sacrifice so that we may have eternal life (Heb. 13:15-16). And lastly, we should share with others the great privilege of God’s grace through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Unwise not to Tithe?
Is it unwise to not tithe? Creflo Dollar seems to think so. In part two of the series, "Being Free to Tithe", Dollar states:
"God is not mad at you for not tithing. Now, I think it is unwise not to tithe. You might have a little problem with provision. Stuff might not show up. But, He ain’t mad at you. God will still love you if you don’t tithe. Now you know ain’t no preacher in his right mind gonna sit up here and say what I’m saying. Why? Because he’s scared that by saying it, folks won’t give no more. I got to get you free. I got to make sure you’ll free. And when you’re free to give …. You can’t be lied to no more. I will not allow it. I will not allow you to be lied to no more. I don’t know what you do. What you do is gonna be between you and God. But I got to tell you the truth."
No, it is not unwise for believers to not tithe. However, it is unwise for any man to say, "I got to tell you the truth", and then blatantly lie about God and His Word. Very ambitiously and deceitfully, Mr. Dollar persists in integrating lies with truth while teaching a doctrine that is not supported by Scripture.
Creflo Dollar comes clean with the fact that Christians will not be cursed for not tithing. But, on the other hand, he alleges that there will be repercussions for failing to tithe. Not desiring to appear contradictory by invoking Malachi along with the accompanying curses, Dollar exercises doublespeak euphemisms to manipulate his congregants. His forked tongue implication is: "You might have a problem with provision. Stuff might not show up."
Mr. Dollar's magnificent display of hypocrisy is absolutely dazzling. He charges other preachers of harboring fear, lying, withholding the truth, and teaching false aspects about tithing; yet Dollar is equally guilty … teaching falsely, but with a different spin and twist.
Was Tithing Written for Our Learning?
Let's take a look at Romans 15:4.
"For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." (Romans 15:4)
Creflo Dollar cites Romans 15:4 to justify tithing under the new covenant. Since the old covenant embraced tithing, then the act of tithing should be practiced by believers today. Was that the context of Paul’s statement in Romans 15:4? Would Paul agree with this assessment? Did Paul teach tithing to the new covenant church? The answer is "no" to these three questions. Mr. Dollar routinely quotes scriptures that fit his agenda while completely neglecting their usage and context.
In order to interpret Romans 15:4 in proper context, we must first read Romans 14. In chapter 14 Paul spoke about the requirement for patience between strong believers and weak believers regarding "doubtful things." Those who were weak believed they were refrained from eating meat, drinking wine, and regarding some days as being more important than others. Conversely, those who were strong believed they could eat anything seeing as nothing was considered unclean; they could drink wine, and believed all days were equally important. Paul yearned for both strong believers and weak believers to uphold mutual acceptance for one another. He advised weak believers to desist from judging a stronger believer because he didn’t abstain from eating specific foods, or from drinking wine, or maintain certain days. Similarly, Paul does not desire stronger believers to destroy the faith of a weaker believer by permitting the use of his liberties to become as a stumbling block, or hindrance, to the faith of those who Jesus has saved.
Paul continues in Romans 15:1-2, saying, "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification." In verse three, he demonstrates the core of his point by alluding to the pattern of Christ saying, "For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me." Verse four says, "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Here, Paul was persuading his audience not to disregard the things that were written in the Old Testament because it taught the strong to learn patience in coping with their weak brothers … assuring them that they would be comforted in abstaining from their liberties for the benefit of others.
For example, when Abram and Lot divided the land between them (Gen. 13), Abram, who was the elder one, should have had the first pick. However, sacrificing his right, he surrendered that choice to Lot. Thus, Lot chose first … picking the verdant and most beautiful plains of Jordan.
There are more stories in the Old Testament where the stronger sacrificed their right for the benefit of the weaker. If we read these stories we will become more skilled at being patient in dealing with our weaker brothers and sisters.
Now, there is an immense supply of insight to be obtained from the Old Testament. But, in keeping with the theme of our discussion, the point is this: While we can appreciate and afford instruction where they are needed for assistance, this does not mean that believers today are bound by the ceremonial and judicial laws of the old covenant. Let’s consider a few passages from the Old Testament.
"One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD." (Deut. 23:2)
"For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him." (Lev. 20:9)
"They shall not make any bald place on their heads, nor shall they shave the edges of their beards nor make any cuttings in their flesh." (Lev. 21:5)
"If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear." (Deut. 21:18-21)
Yes, the Old Testament is for our learning; but do we adhere to the laws stated here? Clearly we do not! Thus, why is tithing exclusionary? Under the old covenant Mosaic Law, the nation of Israel was required to obey the entire Law, not just the ones that they consented with or were to their personal benefit (Deut. 6:25).
Let's consider Hebrews 7:12. It says:
"For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law." (Heb. 7:12)
The Levitical Priesthood was abrogated and replaced by the body of Christ (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10). Thus, tithing was rendered invalid.
Now … let’s presume that tithing is valid today. Does that mean Christians should receive tithes (since they are the new priesthood)? Moreover, if Christians should pay tithes to Jesus, then why wasn’t Jesus' ministry supported by tithes (Luke 8:1-3)? Unquestionably, these questions demonstrate the error upheld by Creflo Dollar and other tithing proponents.
Now, let's consider Acts 15:24-29. It states:
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law" … to whom we gave no such commandment --- it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. (Acts 15:24-29)
During the meeting at the Jerusalem Council, take note that there is no reference of a tithing requisite from the Old Testament law as is contrarily taught by Creflo Dollar. In this passage there were Jews who taught that Gentile believers had to be circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law, which undoubtedly embraced tithing. But, Paul disputed in opposition to them (verse 24).
Let's momentarily presuppose that Creflo Dollar’s use of Romans 15:4 is a legitimate point for the endorsement of tithing in today’s age of Grace. If there is to be some consistency with Scripture, then it is only proper to adhere to the requirements, guidelines, and patterns of the law of tithing. With that said, let’s now contrast biblical tithing with Creflo Dollar’s version of tithing. Is there a parallel?
1. According to Creflo Dollar: The tithe consist of money.
According to The Bible: The tithe consist of fruit, grain, herd, and flock (Lev. 27:30-34). There are many passages of scripture throughout the Bible that illustrate the use of money as a means of financial transactions. For example, persons dedicated to the Lord could be redeemed for money (Lev. 27:2-7); Abraham purchased land with money (Gen. 23:15-16); the temple tax was paid with money (Exodus 30:12-16; Matthew 17:24-27). In the face of the fact that there are numerous accounts of the use of money in the Bible, there are no indications from Scripture that suggest any deviations of the tithe to include money. Thus, Creflo Dollar and other tithing proponents are guilty of adding to God’s Word.
"Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar." (Proverbs 30:6)
2. According to Creflo Dollar: The tithe is used to pay his wages, pay administrative costs, maintain the "Temple" (Church Building), etc.
According to The Bible: The purpose of the biblical tithe was not used to pay salaries, erect and maintain buildings, etc. Throughout the old covenant law, the purpose of tithing was to fairly compensate an equitable supply of food to the Levites, strangers, widows, and orphans in the land of Israel at certain times and occasions during a seven year cycle (Num. 18:24; Deut. 14:28-29; 26:12-13). The Old Testament temple was supported by generous freewill offerings and the temple tax (Exodus 30:12-16; Ezra 1:4). This tax was a half shekel, which was equal to two days wages. During the time of Nehemiah, the temple tax was paid yearly and was equal to one third of a shekel (Neh.10:32). These taxes were paid by every man 20 years of age and older.
3. According to Creflo Dollar: The tithe should be brought to the storehouse … which is the church.
According to The Bible: Under the old covenant, the storehouse was located in the temple. Under the new covenant, the temple no longer exist; but has been replaced by the body of each believer (Matthew 26:61; 27:40).
4. According to Creflo Dollar: We should never eat (spend) our tithe.
According to The Bible: During years one and two; and years four and five of a seven year tithing cycle, each tribe in Israel travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate the "Feast of Ingathering", aka "Feast of Tabernacles." In an atmosphere of worship and celebration the tithe was consumed by the Israelites and the local Levites who accompanied them to the festivities. (Deut 12:5-7,12, 7-18; 14:22-27)
5. According to Creflo Dollar: We should pay monetary tithes each time we get paid (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly).
According to The Bible: As aforementioned, the tithe consisted of fruit, grain, herd, and flock (Lev. 27:30-34). During years three and six of a seven year tithing cycle, the tithe was stored locally and given to the Levites, the stranger, the fatherless, and widows who lived within each tribal community (Deut. 14:28-29; 26:12-13). Contrary to popular opinion, it was only during the third and sixth years that the tithe was fully payable. Deuteronomy 26:12-13 states:
"When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levites, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. Then say to the Lord your God: "I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them." (Deut. 26:12-13, emphasis mine)
Since Creflo Dollar and other tithing advocates allege that monetary tithing is valid today, do they teach their congregations to tithe every three years? Of course not!
As we can see, there are striking disparities between Creflo Dollar's version of tithing and the methods of tithing in ancient Israel. There are further differentiations, but for the sake of brevity, I will stop here.
It should now be unmistakable that Mr. Dollar's application of Romans 15:4 in the context of validating tithing for new covenant believers is without biblical basis. This is just another example of Mr. Dollar's methods of vigilantly selecting specific scripture references to utilize and twist to his financial advantage.