In the middle of a CBS Sunday Morning piece, To Tithe or Not to Tithe, on churches which demand or strongly encourage a tithe from their congregants, a small gem of scriptural reason was featured:
"I'm somewhat suspicious of people who want to turn giving ten percent into virtually the only law that applies to people who are under a covenant of grace," says Hudnut-Beumler, "
where God saves freely, not for ten percent down."
He says he's reminded of Martin Luther, father of the Protestant movement, who broke away from the Catholic church because it was selling indulgences: Promises of a quicker road to heaven in exchange for cash.
"Stripped down to its basics," he says, "I don't think it's different than indulgences. What we see today, though, is a return to 'this-for-that religion,' give God this and God will give you that."
Words of wisdom from a Lutheran? I couldn't find any reference to him being raised Lutheran (except for being raised in Michigan). James Hudnut-Beumler is dean of the divinity school at Vanderbilt University.
Another gem, of sorts, from a woman who strongly believes in tithing: "It makes me feel good."
Here is a bit of considered opinion on tithing, which (of course) is not a bad practice, but it is not mandated to Christians, by a Lutheran theologian:
It is always a horrible abuse of the Word of God - and a legalistic binding of consciences - to try to use the law to motivate and "drive" Christians to fruits of faith, rather than seeking to empower and inspire them through the gospel. Such "law-forced" good works are nothing but the rotten fruit of grudging obedience or pharisaic pride. The tithe is not a club with which we are to beat God's people over the head. It is merely one guide with which we can measure our gifts over against the gifts which God's Old Testament people brought him.
"God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).