In a recent report from the Chalcedon website, the number one search term by site visitors was “tithe.” Over the decades, the subject of the tithe has been a major point of division, debate, and confusion, so it is not surprising that the topic remains at the forefront of an individual Christian’s concern. Two thousand years later, our Lord’s words on mammon still ring true. We cannot serve both God and money, and this is more than an admonishment to the rich. We all fall prey to the power of money, and it’s difficult to imagine that people are interested in the tithe in order to be more generous in their giving.
The reluctance of Christians to tithe may come down to the fact that they view it as donating solely to their local church and do not see the necessity for social financing. If they are not postmillennial, then why would social financing be necessary? Rushdoony writes:
[I]n any advanced social order, social financing is a major public necessity in order to maintain a vast network of social institutions which require financing and support.1
The truth is that we’re already tithing many times over through the coercive taxation by the state, but we’ve lost touch with the power of the tithe as a means to financing a godly social order:
Historically, there have been in the main two means of social financing: first, by state taxation and then state control and maintenance of the various social institutions which must be maintained, and, second, by the law of the tithe, whereby the tithe, as God’s tax, is used to maintain education, welfare, religious institutions, and a variety of social functions.2
Christians are quick to criticize both taxation by the state and the tithe, but if they truly desire a godly social order, then tithing is the solution they’re looking for. We cannot work without it:
The tithe has a major social function which needs restoring. It is futile to rail against statism if we have no alternative to the state assumption of social responsibilities. The Christian who tithes, and sees that his tithe goes to godly causes, is engaged in true social reconstruction. By his tithe money and its activity, he makes possible the development of Christian churches, schools, colleges, welfare agencies, and other necessary social functions.3
Society has clearly shifted in a way that should concern every Christian, but the solution is godly reconstruction. The times are urgent:
We need to do this in delight and anticipation of a godly order; we also need to do it in fear of the consequences if we do not. Either we work to establish a godly order, or we go down into the hell of total statism.4
Chalcedon vice-president, Martin Selbrede, once said that one of the ways we’ll know that the Kingdom of God is thriving is when Rushdoony’s Tithing and Dominion is Chalcedon’s best selling book. This is as good a marker as any.
1. R. J. Rushdoony, Faith & Action: The Collected Articles of R. J. Rushdoony from the Chalcedon Report, 1965-2004 (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2018), p. 1263.
3. ibid., p. 1265.
4. ibid., p. 1266.