My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Tithing: perhaps among the most controversial topics in Christendom. In fact, according to the foreword, author Douglas Leblanc was very reluctant to write it. Tithing: Test Me in This is the author taking a backseat to a series of people he chose to interview and devote a chapter to their opinion of what tithing is, is not, and what it has done in their lives.
There were a few meaningful consistencies. One of which was the idea that tithing is like “training wheels” for generosity. That is a concept consistent with Jesus’ teachings as well, especially vivid in the Sermon on the Mount. He uses examples of murder and adultery and makes them matters of the heart by indicting those who have only committed those sins in thought and deed. Then with numerous examples from the Rich Young Ruler to the widow who gives her only two mites, Jesus sets up an economy where those who belong to him give their all in full acknowledgment that it all belongs to him in the first place.
Randy Alcorn’s story was by far the best chapter in the book. His life vividly captures his relationship with money that springs from Jesus’ admonition against storing treasures on earth, rather than in heaven. Alcorn, though writing books that made millions, worked a minimum wage job that would afford him the time to continue to write and research. Among all the stories in the book Alcorn alone bases his decision to follow Christ in his atoning sacrifice for sin and his desire to see Christ glorified.
The approach of making the book a series of stories was less than helpful, simply because most of the stories lacked good theological grounding. Beyond the overly ecumenical agenda (including of people who affirm homosexuality and a chapter about a Jewish rabbi) the perspectives were only loosely based on Scripture and more on personal perspective. At times even bordering on a prosperity message, the book presents a dozen opinions then leaves the reader holding the bag.
For a book titled Tithing, it only seemed to be incidentally about it. Tithing was presented only as a baby step to the end of social justice and generosity. First, the biblical concept of the tithe was very specifically for the purpose of supporting the order of priests and for the operations of the temple. Additionally, while few would have trouble with the concept of generosity, there was also a strong theme of here-and-now justice with no real need of Christ to intervene more than he already has by teaching us a new way to live. A more liberal approach to theology removed a need for Christ and creates a new law by which we are expected to save the world.