It makes a world of difference when you give to family versus giving to just about anyone else.
I actually like the article on tithing at Wikipedia. It corrects a lot of lies told by greedy clergymen. Nowhere is tithing taught in the New Testament; free will offering was the whole teaching. All this blather about discipline and economics is just cultural Christian Talmudism.
This is entirely a product of the West. In Western mythology, the individual is property of the government. Since we live in the age of the secular state, that’s the government that owns you. Everything else is fiction, a false cover to excuse the most abominable dehumanizing abuse. There is no such thing as a “family household” except as a term of economics and social control. In reality, each discrete human life form is individually property of the state. Keeping a family together is merely a matter of bureaucratic convenience.
The American evangelical church has openly adopted this model, but with an even thicker paint job to make it all sound nice. It splashes a false vision on the wall like the image from a projector. Behind the scenes, the religious leadership looks for ways to enforce the tithe via manipulation. It is no different from political campaign fund-raising. It’s uses are seldom any more moral or sensible than politics.
The whole thing is aimed at creating an institution consistent with the existence of the secular state. Once it gets past some invisible balance point, the mere fact that this thing stands there constitutes a demand to feed it and grow it. The thing continues regardless of who occupies the various offices. It’s about as depersonalized as it can be, and our society calls it “church.”
What would happen to Radix Fidem if Bro. Ed were to die? No, not the name and the blog — what would happen to the thing signified by that name? I think most of you might miss me, however much of me you have in your life. But the thing we are doing together that justifies this effort to organize, however little we have done it, will keep right on going. Some of you will lose it because you never really had it. That’s what happens in real life. Still, those of you who were seized by this move of God’s Spirit will go right on doing the same stuff, growing and discerning new ways to make it live.
I’m betting the forum would continue. It already stands independently of my efforts. There are a handful of folks who are quite capable of leading it and keeping it alive. That was the whole point: to move from this single point of failure called “Ed Hurst” and shift it over to a wider number of people.
But there’s no significant investment in infrastructure or institutional awareness. Instead, it’s more like family, which is what the word “church” is supposed to mean. Our covenant will stand because it never rested on organizational principles artificially instituted to become a non-living entity. If Radix Fidem isn’t first and foremost a covenant family, organic to our sense of human existence, then it was dead from the start.
Our teaching does not state clearly, but obviously presumes you know you belong to God as a feudal household member. That means all your stuff, too. By reflex we should have long gotten used to investing in tools for service, in the same sense that all of Creation is just a tool for our Lord’s glory. It’s a parable: I’m a tool, you’re a tool, everything we can touch is a tool. Granted, people are more complicated than most other kinds of tools, but in the sense of how we direct our resources, it’s all one thing. The resources together are another tool for His glory.
My wife and I recognize Easter as a secular holiday with pagan roots; we still keep Resurrection Sunday separate in our minds. We still do all the silly stuff with eggs, bunnies, pastel colors, etc. In our apartment building is a single mom with four delightful little girls. They don’t suffer from a sense of entitlement, so giving to them is a joy. We have prepared Easter baskets for them just because it’s a great tool for demonstrating the love of God. And we’ve done things to help the mom, to include working on her car and stuff like that. They don’t owe us anything and we aren’t keeping tabs on the cost. It’s just a matter of what we can spare at the time. According to God’s Word, all of that counts as an offering to Him.
The cars, computers, cameras, and all the other stuff your donations help to buy? Those are just tools in Kingdom service. That’s the reason we dare to ask for donations from time to time. You know where the money goes; that’s my minimum duty to you as family members helping each other. I treat the neighbors as family; whether they get any shalom from it is for them to work out with God. I’m in no position to push my teachings on them, but they’ll learn when they ask. I suspect they pick up far more than I could say. You get to be a part of that. Don’t make the mistake of thinking God doesn’t miraculously add that to your shalom, but I’m not a huckster trying to plunder you. I don’t have satellites to launch and real estate to buy, and there’s no political agenda here. I have another kind of legacy I’m trying to build.
All we have is our high positive regard for each other as family, and it’s working exceptionally well already. Keep your money until God tells your heart what to do with it.