Known prosperity gospel preacher Creflo Dollar recently made a stunning admission to his congregation, saying he was teaching something that is "not correct" with regards to the Christian life: tithing.
Dollar, the pastor of the 33,000-strong World Changers Church International, recently preached a sermon where he attempted to correct what he had been teaching his congregation for years, the Christian Post reported. The preacher said he was teaching it but "could never understand" the topic clearly.
"I want to start off by saying that I'm still growing, and the teachings that I've shared in times past on the subject of tithing were not correct," Dollar said at the start of the sermon titled "The Great Misunderstanding."
The pastor explained that he did not understand the truth about tithing and how it relates to the Christian, for years until he encountered Scriptural truth in the form of Romans 6:14, which says "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."
"And today, I stand in humility to correct some things that I've taught for years and believed for years but could never understand it clearly because I had not yet been confronted with the Gospel of grace, which has made the difference," he continued.
Fear and Guilt
The Bible clearly states that tithing is an Old Testament principle required for every Israelite. It's the practice of giving a tenth of one's produce unto the Lord, which means giving it to the priests in the temple. These portions were meant to be a provision for the Levites, who are ministering to the Lord in the temple full-time.
The popular Bible passage used to teach tithing in churches, Malachi 3:8-12, states that men "rob" God by withholding their tithes and offerings.
This same passage includes a promise that if men bring their tithes into the "storehouse," they will be blessed beyond their capacity to receive. Furthermore, in this passage God made a promise to Israel that He will "rebuke the devourer" if they give their tithes.
Conversely, in the same passage it is stated that men are "cursed with a curse" for not giving their tithes. It also implies that God will not "rebuke the devourer" for those who withhold their tithes.
Dollar pointed out that the fear and guilt associated with the withholding of tithes have been used as a subject to keep church people giving to the church
"Religion is sustained by two factors, fear and guilt," Dollar said. And if it's one subject that the church has used for a long time to keep people in fear and guilt, it is that subject of tithing."
"And it has to be corrected and it's got to be corrected now," he continued.
Gospel of Grace
Thomas Schreiner, the James Buchanan Harrison professor of New Testament interpretation and associate dean for Scripture and interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, indicated in a 2017 op-ed for The Gospel Coalition that tithing is not a New Testament requirement for Christ's followers.
Schreiner noted that commands stipulated in the Mosaic Law, or the laws or commands given by God to Israel through Moses, "are no longer in force for believers." While the moral norms indicated in the Old Testament continue to apply today, tithing-one such command in it-is not included in the teachings of Jesus Christ and apostles such as Peter and Paul in the New Testament.
Romans 6:14, the verse that opened Dollar's eyes to this truth, tells believers that "sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." The Amplified version of the same verse states "sin will no longer be a master over you, since you are not under Law [as slaves], but under [unmerited] grace [as recipients of God's favor and mercy]."
Under the Mosaic Law, tithing is required and those who do not give them face a curse. Under the grace of God in Jesus Christ, however, Christians are able to live free and devoid of fear of any curse related to tithes.
Nevertheless, this doesn't mean Christians should live for themselves alone with no thought of being generous. Romans 6:13, the preceding verse, tells believers, "Do not go on offering members of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness. But offer yourselves to God [in a decisive act] as those alive [raised] from the dead [to a new life], and your members [all of your abilities-sanctified, set apart] as instruments of righteousness [yielded] to God."
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." The early church itself lived according to the Lord's words, and contributed their own to meet one another's needs. Cheerful generosity, not the giving motivated by fear or guilt, is what the New Testament commands, and Jesus Himself modeled it in His earthly life, death, and resurrection.
No Turning Back
Dollar, who had preached quite a number of sermons and published some writings about tithing, also urged his listeners during the sermon to dispose of these teaching materials, printed or otherwise. Specifically, he said "throw away every book, every tape and every video I ever did on the subject of tithing unless it lines up with this," referring to the Gospel of grace in Christ.
He added that while his former teachings were incorrect, he is not going to apologize for them because he would've never "ended up where I am now" if he believed differently before. Nevertheless, he understands that he could lose some friends and might not get invited to speak to some congregations anymore, but he's prepared for it.