by Jonathan K . Corrado

In contemporary Christian churches, the subject of tithes and offerings can be controversial. While many denominations regularly teach that tithing and giving offerings are a central aspect of the believer’s experience, others challenge this doctrine based on the connection to Old Testament systems and practices.

Their view posits that because the New Covenant deriving from Jesus’ life, ministry, revelations, sacrificial death, and resurrection has superseded many of the law’s requirements, contemporary Christians should not view tithing as an obligation. Others, however, critique this view, emphasizing instead that giving was an important practice in New Testament churches.

The task of untangling this controversy begins with carefully reviewing the principles that stem from both Old and New Testament references to giving. While New Testament Scriptures indicate a significant departure from modes of tithing (i.e., giving a one-tenth proportion of goods or wages) depicted in the Old Testament, these same Scriptures simultaneously refer to giving as an essential form of worship in a New Covenant context. A comparative reading of Old and New Testament doctrines reveals giving as an accepted form of worship, a practice that has taken on distinct structural features across time periods and dispensations, and an action with a changing role and function.

Contemporary believers who regularly give to their church do so out of a spirit of obedience, through unique structural variables associated with their own church’s model, and for reasons that include supporting their own congregation and church’s missionary and philanthropic functions.

Jonathan K. Corrado (PhD, Colorado State University) works in the nuclear industry and is a senior officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He is interested in various fields of research: theology, nuclear engineering, systems engineering, and human performance/error.