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Survey: Minority of evangelical leaders say Bible requires tithing
April 7th, 2011
12:48 PM ET

Survey: Minority of evangelical leaders say Bible requires tithing

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Thou shalt not be required to financially support your church - but you should anyway.

That’s the upshot of a new informal survey of evangelical leaders finding that less than half believe that the Bible requires church members to tithe, the practice of giving at least 10 percent of one’s income to the church.

The survey, conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) among its 100-member board of directors, found that 42% of evangelical leaders believe the Bible requires tithing, while 58% do not.

“The Old Testament called for multiple tithes, sort of combining government taxes with religious stewardship,” NAE President Leith Anderson said, reacting to the survey.

“Since there is such a strong evangelical tradition of tithing, I was a little surprised that a majority of our evangelical leaders say the tithe system of the Old Testament does not carry over to the New Testament or to us,” Anderson said in a statement.

The National Association of Evangelicals, the nation’s biggest evangelical umbrella organization, would not say how many of its 100 board members responded to the survey, which was conducted in February.

The board includes such influential figures as the heads of the Salvation Army, the Assemblies of God - a major Pentecostal denomination - and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

The injunction to tithe comes from the Old Testament, or what Jews call the Hebrew Bible, which tells of Abraham and others giving ten percent of war spoils, a harvest or other goods as offerings to God or religious leaders.

Dan Olson, a Purdue University sociology professor who has studied tithing, says the new survey doesn’t mean Christian leaders think those in the pews shouldn’t give.

“Most of those leaders would probably say, ‘you really ought to tithe, but the term ‘requires’ gets at a theological point,” he said.

“Most Christians would say the laws of the Old Testament are not what save you – you’re supposed to be giving out of a spirit of freedom, not because you’re bound to laws,” he said.

The National Association of Evangelicals’ survey found that 95% of evangelical leaders say they give at least 10% of their salaries to church.

A recent study by group that tracks church giving, called Empty Tomb, Inc., found that evangelicals on a whole give an average of 4% of their income to their church, though Olson suspects the average is much lower, around 1% or 2%.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Money & Faith

soundoff (674 Responses)
  1. sockpuppet

    @Peace2all..repost....
    I can't figure out if you have come up with a response to this question about whether Christians are to follow old testament laws since the posts are out of order, so I may just be repeating what somebody else already said....when Jesus talked about not coming to abolish but to fulfill the laws, He was speaking as a JEW TO JEWS. He was not speaking to the Gentile population. After His death, when the disciples were spreading Christianity, they had come to the conclusion firstly that yes, the message could be for Gentiles as well, and secondly, that JEWISH law would not and could not apply to Gentiles. The elders, including Peter, decided that it was a burden that Jews had a hard enough time with, let alone a people who had not been raised under the laws of Moses. Read Acts 15:1-24 to learn about this...

    April 8, 2011 at 4:30 am |
  2. Nana

    I am truly offended at most of these comments, as well as afraid for the final destination of your souls. One day all will kneel and acknowledge Him as King. I hope you learn the truth of Jesus Christ before that day comes.

    April 8, 2011 at 3:18 am |
  3. Peace2All

    @ Q

    Again, as always... very well said !

    Peace brother...

    April 8, 2011 at 3:04 am |
    • Q

      @Peace – Thanks for the kind words, and in turn, thank you for your ever rational and truly respectful contributions!

      April 8, 2011 at 3:57 am |
  4. Idiots

    What I don't understand is who the hell would be stupid enough to give money to these a$$ wipes?

    April 8, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • wipes

      your experience is small, try visiting a few different churches; they are all not the same

      April 8, 2011 at 7:08 am |
  5. PH

    Strictly speaking as per Acts 4:32 the early church shared "everything they had" with one another, at least in the sense that it was available to everyone if needed. Knowing that many OT regulations don't necessarily apply rigidly in NT times, however, it is reasonable to suggest that believers should give as they are able to rather than according to a strict percentage. That being said, if 10% works then it's still within Christian freedom.

    April 8, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  6. JD

    Why does God always need more money? I mean, he could make things better with his miracle magic prayer answering, but he always needs more money. Hey God, get off your lazy behind and get a job! We don't support socialists who keep asking for hand-outs!

    April 7, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  7. josey

    My favorite part "95% of evangelical leaders say they give at least 10% of their salaries to church." Where does their pay come from? The donations from the church. I donate 100% of my salary to my wife.

    April 7, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • kyle

      from people who believe

      April 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • from Josey's wife

      what are you doing? get back to your chores!!

      April 8, 2011 at 7:06 am |
  8. 2bits

    My dad gave 10% for 40 years. Then had a quadruple bypass. Asked the priests to come visit to give last rites. They didn't. Dad visited priests after wards and told them all to go to hell if that's the way they treat solid supporters for 40 years. Dad became an atheist after that and hated the church. Typical Catholic priests just use people as do all churches to support their own and put fat around their bellies, a roof over their heads, etc. Religion is bad for this world!

    April 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  9. Peace2All

    @Catholic Mom & @ lena

    ***The postings seem to be going way out of order.

    Please see my responses to your postings ...above your original postings to me.

    Thanks...

    Peace...

    April 7, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  10. DE

    The bible is so full of holes it can't hold water. Most of the apostles were illiterate and did not write the books attributed to them. Those books were forged later by men who wanted to put their beliefs in the bible. Due to poor translation Mary was not a virgin, the word describing her meant "a young woman of child bearing age". The Israelites did not cross the Red Sea but the Sea of Reeds (a marsh) and there wasn't giants in the world. That word translates to "Those who came down from the sky". The bible states that the "sons" of the gods came down and mated with human women. Do a little research and read something besides the boom of fairy tales.

    April 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  11. Peace2All

    @lena

    Hi -lena...

    You Said: "@Peace...I believe what Jesus was referring to is that many people were following the "letter" of the Law in the Old Testatement; Jesus was showing all how to fulfill the "spirit" of the Law, which is " to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul" and to love your neighbor. If you truly do these two things, you will fulfill all of the OT commandments."

    Thank you for responding. You may very well be accurate in your 'belief'. I think what I'm a bit confused about is (paraphrasing here), that Jesus basically says... 'everything' not just the 10 commandments, but every 'law' etc... in the Old Testament still goes... 'until 'heaven and earth' pass away. So, it seems to me that we are supposed to live our lives by 'everything' in the OT, as Jesus said, nothing is to be changed, yes...?

    I don't need to go into all of the rules, laws, orders and commandments that are in the OT, that are, well... kinda' silly(some) and we just couldn't live by them.

    So, help me out here !

    Respectfully,

    Peace...

    ________________________

    @CatholicMom

    Hello -CMoM ! 🙂 Hope that you are doing well...? And yes, I did find your posting. And... I'm in agreement with you that this 'new' system that they (the moderators) have going here is not working out real well. Postings get out of order. Often, one cannot 'reply' etc... not to mention the new archiving system, where it is hard to go back and find your multiple conversations. I very much liked the 'old' way as well. One of the reasons I have not been posting on here like I used to over the last year.

    Oh well, I guess we make the best of it.

    Anyway....

    You Said: "Peace2All... you were wondering about this....."Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:17-19"

    You Said: "The way I understand this is Jesus did not come abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill them….that is, He has come to make them perfect. He is now the High Priest; He says that Baptism now saves you whereas circu-mcision was needed in order to be called the people of God. Baptism did not abolish circu-mcision but ‘changed it’ to a perfected state in Baptism…where you no longer need the circu-mcision because it is now Baptism that you need. This follows with many of the laws of eating also…the foods that were forbidden are perfected in Jesus Christ….the law isn’t abolished but made perfect! There are other things, too, that were held to as law…where the law is now perfected….in such a way that to love our neighbor as ourselves brings about perfection in all that we do so the old law is now clothed in love…and the One who fulfills all the requirements to bring this about is Christ…..Christ working through us after our Baptism!"

    Well, -CMoM... I put your posting and my response with @ lena above, as I still am not sure about all of this. Again, the way I understand it, according to Jesus, "until Heaven and Earth" pass away... basically 'nothing' is to be changed... and... you are to follow 'all' of the rules, laws, orders, etc... from God...not just some. (No cherry-picking) And you and I both know that there are 'a lot' (some) of rules/laws, etc... in the Old Testament, that we are not following, nor I think, should we follow.

    You Said: "I hope this has helped….so let love reign and you will not be going against the law!"

    There are a lot of things that I would consider in the OT as not being very loving, hence my confusion here.

    Maybe you and the others can take another stab at it with me...?

    I have always been sincerely curious about this particular passage and all of the differing 'interpretations' of it.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you and the others...

    Respectfully,

    Peace...

    April 7, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      I can't figure out if you have come up with a response to this question about whether Christians are to follow old testament laws since the posts are out of order, so I may just be repeating what somebody else already said....when Jesus talked about not coming to abolish but to fulfill the laws, He was speaking as a JEW TO JEWS. He was not speaking to the Gentile population. After His death, when the disciples were spreading Christianity, they had come to the conclusion firstly that yes, the message could be for Gentiles as well, and secondly, that JEWISH law would not and could not apply to Gentiles. The elders, including Peter, decided that it was a burden that Jews had a hard enough time with, let alone a people who had not been raised under the laws of Moses. Read Acts 15:1-24 to learn about this...

      April 8, 2011 at 4:18 am |
  12. Peace2All

    @lena

    Hi -lena...

    You Said: "@Peace...I believe what Jesus was referring to is that many people were following the "letter" of the Law in the Old Testatement; Jesus was showing all how to fulfill the "spirit" of the Law, which is " to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul" and to love your neighbor. If you truly do these two things, you will fulfill all of the OT commandments."

    Thank you for responding. You may very well be accurate in your 'belief'. I think what I'm a bit confused about is (paraphrasing here), that Jesus basically says... 'everything' not just the 10 commandments, but every 'law' etc... in the Old Testament still goes... 'until 'heaven and earth' pass away. So, it seems to me that we are supposed to live our lives by 'everything' in the OT, as Jesus said, nothing is to be changed, yes...?

    I don't need to go into all of the rules, laws, orders and commandments that are in the OT, that are, well... kinda' silly(some) and we just couldn't live by them.

    So, help me out here !

    Respectfully,

    Peace...

    ________________________

    @CatholicMom

    Hello -CMoM ! 🙂 Hope that you are doing well...? And yes, I did find your posting. And... I'm in agreement with you that this 'new' system that they (the moderators) have going here is not working out real well. Postings get out of order. Often, one cannot 'reply' etc... not to mention the new archiving system, where it is hard to go back and find your multiple conversations. I very much liked the 'old' way as well. One of the reasons I have not been posting on here like I used to over the last year.

    Oh well, I guess we make the best of it.

    Anyway....

    You Said: "Peace2All... you were wondering about this....."Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:17-19"

    You Said: "The way I understand this is Jesus did not come abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill them….that is, He has come to make them perfect. He is now the High Priest; He says that Baptism now saves you whereas circu-mcision was needed in order to be called the people of God. Baptism did not abolish circu-mcision but ‘changed it’ to a perfected state in Baptism…where you no longer need the circu-mcision because it is now Baptism that you need. This follows with many of the laws of eating also…the foods that were forbidden are perfected in Jesus Christ….the law isn’t abolished but made perfect! There are other things, too, that were held to as law…where the law is now perfected….in such a way that to love our neighbor as ourselves brings about perfection in all that we do so the old law is now clothed in love…and the One who fulfills all the requirements to bring this about is Christ…..Christ working through us after our Baptism!"

    Well, -CMoM... I put your posting and my response with @ lena above, as I still am not sure about all of this. Again, the way I understand it, according to Jesus, "until Heaven and Earth" pass away... basically 'nothing' is to be changed... and... you are to follow 'all' of the rules, laws, orders, etc... from God...not just some. (No cherry-picking) And you and I both know that there are 'a lot' (some) of rules/laws, etc... in the Old Testament, that we are not following, nor I think, should we follow.

    You Said: "I hope this has helped….so let love reign and you will not be going against the law!"

    There are a lot of things that I would consider in the OT as not being very loving, hence my confusion here.

    Maybe you and the others can take another stab at it with me...?

    I have always been sincerely curious about this particular passage and all of the differing 'interpretations' of it.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you and the others...

    Respectfully,

    Peace...

    April 7, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  13. Frederica

    Christians, let's be generous. Actually Old Testament Bible requires a little more than 20%. Give 10% to your local church and another 10% to Christian mission agencies. You really get lots of things solved for the entire world along with sweats, tears and ground-shaking miracles. If you are rich, give like Zaccahaeus in Luke 19. The best life.

    April 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • rigel54

      The Old Testament talks about giving to Christian mission groups? How is that possible. There was no Christ (yet)!

      April 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  14. Raoul Duke, Jr.

    The bible is nothing but a flea market: mostly junk but a few things things that may be usefull that you can find in a lot of other places.

    April 7, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • SirVapalot

      Very witty indeed! I, however, find myself lacking wit at the moment.

      April 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  15. PK

    "I deny the existence of god as an Atheist because there is no proof. " bp
    Wow, that's a great argument. So what's your proof that there is no God?

    April 7, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Tim

      You're an imbecile.
      There's also no proof that there isn't a silent, invisible, immaterial purple elephant following you around, but that doesn't mean there is one.

      April 7, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • salvatore

      The way the scientific method works is that in stating a hypothesis you have to provide evidence to back it up. Most atheists aren't seeking to prove there isn't a God, they're saying there isn't any evidence that God exists.

      April 7, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • Roybal

      The burden of proof lies not with the skeptics, but with the believers who label it "truth." The idea that there is an invisible man in the sky watching over everyone, everywhere, at every moment and who will have final judgement over your soul (which also doesn't exist by the way) is quite a big claim. Big claims require big evidence.

      April 7, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • rigel54

      God is carefully defined and redefined to avoid any contradiction. Christian theology, like most, is riddled with fatal contradictions. If you want to believe, that's fine, it's a free country, just don't push any part of an irrational belief system on others.

      April 7, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • mr172

      All I can say is, be an atheist if you want, but that requires a great deal of faith too. You are basing your belief on something that also cannot be proven, that there is no god. Personally I see the creation around me and it convinces me beyond a doubt that God is real. But that's just me.

      April 8, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • jimtanker

      "You are basing your belief on something that also cannot be proven"

      Thats funny stuff there. NO, YOU are the one believing in something that doesnt exist. That is called delusional behvour. ie. crazy.

      April 8, 2011 at 5:37 am |
  16. Finger Puppet

    What's wrong with this picture ? CNN obviously "modded" off the post at the top oft his page. It was true, respectful and what the above post was responding to, as well as the one below. I won't repeat it, but CNN seriously needs to review it's blogging policies.

    April 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  17. Fck the police

    Going to church also makes you fat. There was a study about it on the news. heh heh

    April 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • heh heh

      I seriously doubt you watch the news

      your write as though you live a sad life based on nothing but spitting hate at others anonymously in blogs

      April 8, 2011 at 6:58 am |
  18. EJL

    Church ownership: The only get rich quick scheme that works.

    Realism 1:0 Thou shalt not believe in fiction over over fact.

    April 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • jerry

      to all the people thinking that christianity is a joke i challenge you too give GOD a try you wont be the same and im not talking about religion im talking about a relationship with JESUS

      April 7, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • rigel54

      Jerry, Jerry, Fck is an ass, but he's right about religion. "Giving God a chance" makes as much sense as eating lots of spaghetti to get to paradise, or humming 40's tunes to get rich. You could try it, but it's not going to help.

      April 7, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Give god a try? Which one? There are over 2700 recognized deities. Over 38,000 denominations of christians all saying that THEY have it right.

      How about you try rational thought?

      April 8, 2011 at 5:34 am |
  19. Fck the police

    Christianity is a joke...along with all organized religion.

    April 7, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • jerry

      to mr fck the police god forbid you go to hell i guarentee you wont be saying the same thing

      April 7, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • dendata

      In the Christian Organization of Jehovah Witnesses do not get paid for their work with the congregation or the community. They freely give of their time, resources and energy to study the bible. Also there is never a collection taken up at any of the services performed. all monies received, are given on a 100% voluntary basis and are used exclusively for the purposes of paying utilities. Bibles and other littérateur are offered for free but are not free to produce so some donations cover these cost as well.
      Rather than specifying an amount or a percentage, Paul merely suggested that "on the first day of every week, each one . . . should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income." (Italics ours; 1 Corinthians 16:2, NIV) By planning and reserving an amount on a regular basis, the Corinthians would not feel pressured into giving begrudgingly or on emotional impulse when Paul arrived. For each Christian, the decision of how much to give was to be a private matter, one that 'he had resolved in his own heart.'—2 Corinthians 9:5, 7.

      April 7, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • vadieblue

      Jerry: Judge not lest ye be judged.

      April 7, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Monson

      @vadieblue

      I don't think they were even judging. Just stating some information. I think true judging would be, "You won't be saying that when you go to hell."

      April 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  20. Rick

    Biggest scam in the history of mankind bar NONE

    April 7, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • scam?

      I think of it as community and don't need to be negative about

      believe or don't believe, people find joy in it, I don't see a scam

      April 8, 2011 at 6:55 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.