Rejoinder: You Are Cursed If You Don't Pay Tithes
The issue of tithe is a taboo to a lot of charismatic Christians. It is shrouded in fear and Ignorance; and in a country like Ghana, and for that matter Africa, where superstition reigns supreme, uncontested, it has an added frisson. The idea is one ridiculous mammoth scam foisted on unsuspecting believers by the so called men of God to extort money from the poor and the vulnerable.
It is just a reminiscent of the medieval Catholic authorities who devised the notion of Indulgence to suck European Christendom dry like an insatiable vampire. The blatant abuse of the latter climaxed in the 16th century. It led to the Reformation, which shook the foundation of Western Europe. Currently, the irony about this tithing deception is that even those who are being fleeced like school children at the mercy of bully boys will undoubtedly perceive me as writing heresy, perhaps even committing blasphemy when I am just opening their eyes to the obvious.
Just over two weeks ago, a religious article, which engendered this rejoinder, was posted at ghanaweb loaded with threats and curses. When I read the piece I felt a strong need to expose this institutionalised 419. However, after careful analysis I concluded that it was not worth the time, because those who are already at the mercy of these swindlers will not be convinced regardless of the sophistication and clarity with which I argue my point. Then the following day someone who is supposed to be more credible than I am came out strongly to refute the fundamental argument of the author. On the other hand, instead of him to provide the facts and evidence to debunk this wholesale lie he rather seized the opportunity to advertise his book on the subject to benefit financially.
I would have given him the benefit of the doubt, but he said he used to believe and teach on the payment of tithe. So I thought it would have been a good opportunity for him to make a moral restitution for the lies he taught and spread in the past. But that was asking for too much; his appetite is still locked in the tithing stratosphere, and he couldn't let go his last dainty morsel. All that he was interested in is his share of that well baked pie.
After ploughing through Brother Amartey's rebuttal, a renewal of the original feeling surged through my bones like a tidal wave. It dawned on me that, irrespective of the probable reaction, I owe humble Ghanaian Christians who cringe and shudder at the presence of these heartless manipulators a rejoinder. Though, I wouldn't describe myself as an authority on the bible, nevertheless, I know enough to immunise myself against the deception from third grade men of God who literally get away with murder. I am aware of the salient biblical verses that expose the Trojan tithe horse, nonetheless, I am not going touch them with even a ten foot barge pole, because they are liable to subjective interpretation. Alternatively, I am going to latch on to a circular analysis to split open this last bastion of trickery employed by lazy people who don't want to work, but live off the sweat of other people. Having said that, I don't think I can register my position stronger enough that you don't need any biblical precedence to demolish the hoax about tithe.
It is an undeniable fact that until the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 135 by Emperor Hadrian, Israel was a theocratic state, and everything revolved around their faith. And the Torah, like any modern constitution, was the basic document of state. Whereas we pay an average of 20% income tax to support a modern state, like Ghana, to maintain law and order and other responsibilities of state, the 10% tithe was an adequate contribution, at the time, when the remit of governments were very limited. Therefore, the tithe was a tax to maintain the Levites who according to the laws of Moses were commissioned basically as ministers of state.
So when you pay the progressive tax regime we have in Ghana today, it is equivalent to paying 10% tithe in ancient Israel. So the point is why pay your income tax to the government and again pay another 10% tithe to your pastor, which is mainly an Old Testament income tax. Does this duplication make any sense? It doesn't. Ghana is not a theocracy, neither is the modern state of Israel. The Israelis, presently, have dispensed with this archaic means of raising revenue for the state, and has adopted a modern system of taxation.
Fundamentally, the operations of churches can best be defined as charities. Like all NGOs, designated charities depend on voluntary contribution from its patrons and sympathisers. In England, for example, when you donate to charities they are classed as deductibles in your tax liabilities. And for those who are taxed at source they are able to fill a form and part of their tax is refundable to their churches provided they are registered as a charity. This is a clear demonstration that the Old Testament dispensation has changed.
The current crop of Christian leaders around the globe is one group of charlatans who push for this misrepresentation peppered with fear and intimidation. The beneficiaries who want to maintain the status quo react with the speed of light to invoke biblical verses out of context to support their outrageous position whenever red flag begin to wave. Some of them travel in private jets and live in castles while those who finance their opulent lifestyle struggle to have three square meals, for example, in a place like Nigeria.
For some, their activities are even a disservice to the national interest. Our lack of economic progress, to some degree, can partly be laid squarely at their doorsteps. The stranglehold they wield on their congregants makes their victims look like automatons to the outside observer. Instead of them to keep eagle eye around the clock on the operations of their business they will leave it at the hands of their assistants and attend prayer meetings at an unimaginable frequency, and even in certain bizarre churches throughout the whole week. Now, when these assistants help themselves with part of the sales they turn around to blame the devil for destroying their business.
I know that for those who have been stewed and fed on this preposterous doctrine no amount of words can liberate their minds. They will continue to pay 10% of their hard earned income to pastors who will not hesitate to covert their wives, break the virginity of their daughters and sow discord within their families. What really breaks my heart is those Christians who have doubts about it, yet, do not have the moral courage to say this is wrong, and continue to suffer in silence.
The payment of tithe is one smart boiler room deception. There is no evidence in the bible to suggest that Abraham was a tithe paying Jew. Yet, you have pastors preaching that he set the precedence. Even if he did tithe continually who was the beneficiary. The only recorded prima facie evidence of Abraham paying tithe was to the King of Salem – Melchizedek. And guess what, it was from war booty. Who wouldn't be happy to splash around the spoils of war to keep good neighbourliness?
In the case of St Paul, whom he eloquently asserted that he was a beneficiary nothing couldn't be false than that. One, Paul was not a Levite, but from the tribe of Benjamin. And it was in accordance with Hebrew canon that every student should acquire some manual trade.
Gamaliel, who taught Paul, said that work keeps one virtuous, whereas every learned man who fails to acquire a trade will at last turn a rogue. It became the practicing principle of Paul. Though, he was trained in Jewish jurist prudence he learned a trade as a tent maker. So as he was on his missionary journeys he practiced his trade to support himself. The only recorded time that he took a collection, it was meant for the church at Jerusalem that had hit hard times.
Lastly, I will get into the gutters to pull apart one of the outrageous assertions made by Prophet Owusu Ansah in his scaremongering piece. He was saying that diseases, marital problems, joblessness etc. become the companion of the tithing skiver, because they lose the favour of the Lord. Let me announce to Prophet Owusu Ansah that Paul lived with a sickness until he was called to glory. He constantly prayed to the Lord to heal him, and he was told the grace of the Lord was sufficient. I was once listening to Benny Hinn and he said that he never get sick. Then in another video clip he said he was once sick like a dog. So, my question is what changed in between.
Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, preaches that when your love one is sick on a hospital bed you just have to rebuke that disease to leave and God will heal them, so long as you are right with the Lord. However, barely a year and a half after preaching that twaddle he went under the scalpel to have a bypass operation. Though, I do not take delight in that, but the question that begs for an answer is was he not right with God when his chest was opened?
Why did he not ask the Lord to clear up his arteries? This is the sort of nonsense these so called men of God preach in return for your 10%. They preach this poison and destroy the faith of the simple minded while living a life totally different from what they spew from their pulpit. I have said a word too many, but it is for both the wise and the simple minded.
Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr. and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.