Wednesday, 12 March 2008

It would not be a surprise to most of my readers to know that I fellowship at a Pentecostal Church. One of the things that annoys me is that a lot of more conservative Christians tend to tar and feather every Pentecostal church for being guilty for preaching the prosperity gospel. The truth has to be acknowledged that indeed its falsity is growing within its movement, but it also has to be acknowledged that for the majority of the movement it is cross centered.

The church I go to believes that tithing is still part of the Christians obligation and worship to God, and is needed to fund for want of a better word the church. So over the last few weeks we have had a series of sermons on tithing and giving. I know there is a debate over the issue of tithing, and know the theology of both sides who are either for or against the practice. Personally I am for it and think Scripture points more towards being for then against.

In its standing against the prosperity gospel it seems to me that the conservative church has its backs against the walls in not preaching the full context of Scriptures that talks about Gods financial blessing to those who give generously. For instance Piper and Driscoll have given many sermons against aspects of the prosperity gospel and rightly so - but I am yet to hear them preach a sermon on what the Apostle Paul says to the Corinthians.

2Co 9:5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
2Co 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2Co 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2Co 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2Co 9:9 As it is written:
"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever."
2Co 9:10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
2Co 9:11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2Co 9:12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
2Co 9:13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
2Co 9:14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.
2Co 9:15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

In verse 6 Paul clearly says that those who sow little money will reap little money and those who sow generously will reap generously - the context being shown in verse 11 to be monetary rewards. Yet Scripture also tells us not to be greedy and Paul calls a greedy person an idolater .
Eph 5:5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Warning us elsewhere that the temptation of riches leads to a trap, causes us to have foolish desires and causes many to fall away from the faith 1Tim 6:9

Therefore if we are going to preach the fullness of Scripture we have to acknowledge that there is some basis of truth in what many of the false teachers teach regarding Gods blessings, while at the same time ensuring that we also preach the whole truth that indeed God does love a cheerful giver and Paul does preach that those who give little and give much will reap little and much - but the tension of Scripture requires that God wants us to concentrate on worshiping him and not acquiring wealth and that our trust is in God to provide for all our needs being content with what ever it is God grants us.


One Salient Oversight said...

Nah. Classic example of eisegesis.

The assumption you make in your analysis of these verses focus upon the "return" promised in verse 6, namely the link between sowing and reaping.

The problem is that the use of the terms "sow" and "reap" are different. You sow seeds and reap grain - what is reaped is not identical to what is sowed.

In this case, money (gifts) is what is sowed. But to then argue that what is reaped is also money goes against what the passage says.

Verse 11 promises enrichment in every way. Notice that the word "money" is not used in this passage at all, rather the entire passage seems to hinge on the interpretation of eulogia in 2 Cor 9.5 as being "bounty", that is, the gift the church sent by Corinth to the church in Judaea.

Thus "enrichment in every way" in verse 11 could simply mean that God will provide enough gifts (which include money) to be able to give again when needed.

Craig Bennett said...

G'day Neil.

Actually no I'm not guilty of eisegesis. Also note I'm not using this passage to support tithing which perhaps you think I am doing.

While the passage could speak about giving in general, the context is to do with a gift of money. In verse 10 the seed Paul refers to is that of what is sown in verse 6.

Verse 11 Paul clearly says that God will provide all you need to be generous in every way.

While the context of the passage is to the community of the church, it is also addressed to the individuals within that community as Paul says each must give as they feel right vrse 7.

I think that verse 6 is indictative of sowing and reaping in general. Such as Jesus says, he who is forgiven much forgives much. Yet there is no getting away that the specific meaning of Paul here is monetary.