Saturday, March 1, 2008

Majoring in the minors

Joel has posted a series in his blog entitled The letter of the New Testament parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. His posts and all of the comments have been very enlightening.

This morning, while reading Hebrews 7, it occurred to me that one of the reasons why the New Testament is read as law is because we have a tendency to major on the minors. This particular chapter starts out telling the story of Abraham's meeting with Melchizedek and it relates how Abraham gave him a tithe of the spoils of war.

This portion of scripture has been used by legalists to demand that believers pay a tithe to their local "church." I believe this is an example of how organized religion has misused scripture to support their doctrines. Although the tithe is mentioned in these verses, I don't believe this scripture in any way supports the modern method of collecting tithes from God's people.

In most groups, the people are instructed to "pay" their tithes as though it is a bill or a debt that is owed. Verse 2, however, says that Abraham "gave" the tithe. Giving has an entirely different connotation than does paying. While paying refers to a debt that is owed, giving refers to a gift that is freely bestowed. (Look! I made a poem.)

Also, the entire book of Hebrews is a contrast between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. It was written to Jewish believers in order to prove to them that the New Covenent is a better covenant based on better promises.

Chapter 7 follows this same pattern. In this chapter, the writer is explaining that the priesthood of Jesus, which is similar to that of Melchizedek's, is a better priesthood than that of Aaron's and he uses Abraham's giving of a tithe to Melchizedek as proof of the superiority of Jesus' priesthood. In no way does this scripture encourage or teach New Testament believers to tithe. It was meant to be an encouragement to the church. Instead, it has been turned into a law that is keeping people in bondage.

Another example of how organized religion tends to major in the minors is Ephesians 4:11-13. These verses have been used to emphasize what has now become known as the 5-fold ministry gifts. This scripture has been used to teach God's people unquestioned obedience and submission to their leaders. Since all of the verses surrounding them are discussing unity among the believers, there is no reason to assume that verses 11-13 have changed emphasis and that now the 5-fold is the main topic.

With a legalistic mindset, scripture can be twisted to support a legalistic interpretation. Jesus, however, came to set us free from the law. He didn't come to establish a New Testament law.
Reading the scriptures through the eyes of grace instead of the law will cause us to see the freedom and life that is available to us as New Testament believers.

3 comments:

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Aida,

Very good points about the 'tithe' and '5-fold ministry'. Yes, thats the problem, when we follow the religion we have no room to think. We have no room for Holy Spirit because there are these so many 'authorities' replace the job of Holy Spirit. Jesus said, 'He will guide in all the truth and righteousness'. We have come to a point where we don't really need Him to guide us because we have so many 'trained professionals'. It is pathetic!

bob said...

Hi Aida

I agree with Bino and you.

The Holy Spirit is the only One I listen to when it comes to giving money. He has prompted me to put aside so much out of each pay cheque and put it in a separate account. Sometimes He tells me to send it to a mission in India, sometimes to a brother in Africa or sometimes a Youth for Christ worker in my area or any other place that needs it. These are all people that God has brought into my life who need support. I also support 2 children through Compassion Canada. You probably won't be amazed but in about 4 years (since I have been doing this) He has never once asked me to give to an OREC (Organized Religious Entertainment Centre) that some people call church.

As far as the 5-fold goes you are right. If Christians allowed Jesus to live His life in and through us the 5-fold would happen.

Giving and folding
Bob

Aida said...

Bino, you're right. Religion does away with the need to think. We can leave our brains out in the parking lot and pick them up after the meeting because we won't be using them while in the building. As you said, there really is no need for the Holy Spirit since everything is so well planned. If he actually tries to do something, he's considered to be out of order.

Bob, I like how the Holy Spirit has led you in your giving.

At work, we've had students and employees who have lost everything in fires and I always like to give to them. I much prefer giving to an individual rather than an organization. I don't think giving to an organized religious group is the most effective way and Father doesn't lead me to give there either.

I like what you said about the five fold. I believe it's supposed to be a natural thing. If you have to tell someone you're part of the five fold, then, in my opinion you probably aren't. If someone is gifted in those areas, it'll be apparent, they won't have to tell everyone or wear the title.

BTW, I started Wide Open Spaces yesterday and am enjoying it. I haven't gotten very far into it but he's already given me a lot to think about.

Aida