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Tithing and Temples Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
January 5, 2021 8:30 pm

Tithing and Temples Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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Mormonism 101, a book by Mormonism Research Ministries, Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, has helped many who want to understand what separates Mormonism from the Christian faith. Mormonism 101 is available at your favorite Christian bookstore or online at Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a Biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. So glad you could be with us for this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry.

With me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. We are looking at an article that was published on March 26, 2018, an article written by Peggy Fletcher Stack titled, Does Tithing Requirement for Entry into LDS Temples Amount to Mormons Buying Their Way into Heaven? And as I mentioned in the first show, I think a lot of the points that she is bringing out in this piece goes along very nicely with a piece that I wrote a long time ago called, Tithing by Coercion. And as I mentioned, when I posted that article, I was receiving emails from Latter-day Saints who felt, personally, they were not giving out of a coercive attitude on the part of the church, but they were giving freely. And I don't want to take away from that. I'm sure there are a lot of Latter-day Saints who, like myself, want to give to their church to further the cause of their church. I get that.

I understand that. But when the church tells its people that if they don't tithe, that they risk their exaltation in the celestial kingdom, that, in our opinion, crosses the line of what the New Testament teaches about giving towards the cause of the church, or as we would say, the cause of Christ. And certainly there is no place in the New Testament that even mentions any such law of tithing as a requirement for Christian believers. We are supposed to give out of the abundance of our heart. We are supposed to give because we want to give, and it shouldn't be any type of coercion being used against us in order to give to our churches. What do they call that, Bill?

Pay-to-play? And that seems to be the case in Mormonism. If you want to be able to have any opportunity to go to the celestial kingdom, you're going to have to pay that tithing dollar.

There's no doubt about it. Well, in yesterday's show we read the paragraph in Peggy Fletcher Stack's article where it says, Mormon leaders reject the notion that the process to gain a recommend, and this is referring to a temple recommend, an ID card that you get when you qualify for entrance into a Mormon temple. They reject the notion that the process to gain a recommend for entrance to an LDS temple is a form of salvation blackmail. Well, of course they would deny that. I can't even imagine a Mormon leader admitting to something like that. It's just unfathomable that they would ever say something like that. Whether or not they say it, what does it look like? It most certainly looks like a form of salvation blackmail when you say to the member, if you don't pay your tithe, you're not going to get exaltation.

It's kind of like a mobster going up to an individual who owes the mob money saying, if you don't pay what you owe us, I'm going to break your kneecaps. Only, in this case, we're talking about your eternal salvation. Your kneecaps will yield after so many months, but your eternal salvation is something that's going to last eternally. So it does look like a type of salvation blackmail, whether the church leaders want to admit it or not. In the next part of Peggy Fletcher Stack's article, she cites from Mormon historian Matthew Bowman, who's a professor at Arkansas's Henderson State University, and he's the author of the book, The Mormon People, the Making of an American Faith.

This is what the article says. Sure, tithing may seem like buying your way into heaven in a very strict and misleading way, Bowman says, but I don't know why that seems more offensive to modern sensibilities than, say, the requirement that one attend one Sunday meetings. And I would respond to that same statement by saying, both of them are offensive to my Christian sensibilities. Now don't get me wrong, folks, I love going to church.

I look forward to Sunday morning and gathering with other like-minded believers to listen to an encouraging, perhaps even a convicting sermon that gets in my backyard. I love going to church, but if my pastor ever got up and said that if I don't go to every church service, that my eternal life is in jeopardy, I would immediately find that quite offensive and certainly unbiblical. So when Matthew Bowman says, I don't know why that seems more offensive to modern sensibilities than, say, the requirement that one attend one Sunday meetings, I would say they're both offensive to me as a New Testament Christian. And if the Mormon feels that they too are New Testament Christians, I would think it should be at least offensive to them.

But apparently to some it's not. Now I'm sure there are some within the Mormon church that might have a problem with this comparison and don't like the idea that their church is imposing this requirement on them for their eternal exaltation. And so Stack goes on and writes this, to some the bigger question is, should the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do away not with tithing but with tithing as a prerequisite for accessing the temple and its exalting ordinances by which members can qualify for celestial glory?

Well what do you think about that, Eric? How would you answer that question? Do you think it should be one or the other? Well you have to understand this is a religion built on laws, as we talked about in yesterday's show, and so I can't see how they couldn't make it a prerequisite because, let's just be honest, more than two-thirds of the money that comes into the Mormon church comes in through tithing. It's not through their investments. They do have a lot of money, they have investments of course, but if people did not feel that it was necessary, what is the use of all of the temples they keep building all over the place, even in places that really shouldn't be able to support a temple?

Because I think that's the carrot in front of the cart. The horse is looking for that carrot and is never going to be able to get what is promised there, and I think that's what the Mormon temple has, is you can come and yet even going through our temple and doing the ordinances for yourself and your relatives, you still can't know if you have eternal life. Yeah, when I look at this question that is raised here, this hypothetical question by Peggy Fletcher Stack, should the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do away, not with tithing, but with tithing as a prerequisite for accessing the temple and its exalting ordinances? I don't think anybody's telling the Mormon church or even implying that the Mormon church should get rid of their law of tithing. Now personally, as a Christian, I don't think there is a law of tithing in the New Testament. There just isn't.

You can't find it anywhere. This is something that Joseph Smith takes it from the Old Testament, certainly, but you won't find anywhere in the New Testament that there is a law of tithing for the church. So I don't think anybody's saying get rid of that, although I think it's unbiblical, but I do think a lot of people are wondering, should it be used as a prerequisite for accessing the temple?

If that has something to do with a salvific ordinance, and it is salvific, I could see why they would have a question with that connection. The word tithing is not even found in the New Testament. It comes from Malachi, certainly in Old Testament principle. What we find in the New Testament, according to Acts and also Corinthians, is the idea of generous giving. The Bible talks about that but never sets a percentage. I think 10% is a good place to start, but for the idea that if the church is supposed to be a restoration of Christianity, there certainly is no evidence whatsoever from the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all the way to the book of Revelation. The next paragraph, Peggy Fletcher Stack, cites Patrick Mason, who's a Mormon scholar at Southern California's Claremont Graduate University.

He says something I think we need to comment on. It does create a strong incentive for the practice among the faithful. The corollary that removing the requirement would lead to decreased rates and amounts of tithing also seems commonsensical. He raises an interesting point, and I think this is where we can chide our own in this area. If, in fact, the Mormon church was to stop this law of tithing, as this individual, Patrick Mason, concedes, the amount of revenue coming in from membership would decrease.

So he's saying that makes common sense. I wonder, though, for us as Christians, do we give in order to get back something, let's say, even from the government? If we are giving in order to get a tax deduction, are we any less guilty than the Mormons who are giving in order to get something else from God? See, I don't even give in order to get a tax deduction. If our government was to decide tomorrow that no longer would we get a tax deduction for our charitable giving to a church, I don't think it would have any effect on my giving whatsoever, because I'm not giving for the tax deduction. I would hope that Christians, if they're giving from their heart, they're not giving for the tax deduction either, and that's a great question to ask us as Christian believers. If the government was to take away the tax deduction, would we stop giving like we give now? Or what about the word of faith teachers who say that you have to give if you want to receive, and don't just pray about getting a Porsche, pray about which kind of Porsche, what color, and everything else. Be specific, but first you have to give to this ministry. I think that's just as wrong, and so there are people calling themselves Christians who also are, I think they're tithing by coercion because people are going to want to give to them because of what they're going to get out of giving. And I would say, I would be so bold to say that even in the realm of the word of faith people within the quote-unquote realm of Christianity, I would have problems with them.

Again, if you're giving in order to get something back from God, I don't think your giving is going to amount to anything in the eyes of God. I think that is a work that will be burned up for sure. But then she quotes D. Michael Quinn. D. Michael Quinn is a historian. They used to call him a Mormon historian, but he was excommunicated in the 1990s. But he makes an interesting statement where he says, well at least she cites him as saying, the church's revenue would plummet, warns D. Michael Quinn, who was excommunicated for his historical writings but remains a firm believer.

The church's revenue would plummet. If that's true, and again he's only surmising, this is a theory that he has, but if the church revenue would plummet, if the Mormon church was to reverse its position on this alleged law of tithing, doesn't that tell you that a lot of Mormons, at least in his estimation, are not really giving from their heart? He did a lot of research in a book that I actually read called The Mormon Hierarchy, Wealth and Corporate Power, and what he did is he took 2010 statistics and and compared them all the way through the history of the church and where the money came from. But this is an amazing stat he came up with, because there's not a whole lot that we have to be able to know for sure, but he reports in 2010 the church took in 33 billion dollars, that's billion with a B in tithing, and then they took in 15 billion from stocks, bonds, taxable businesses, and other enterprises. Two-thirds of the money coming into the church is through tithing. This is a huge part of what the wealth of the Mormon church is all about.

They can't lose this. And as he says, if you were to no longer make that mandatory, Peggy Fletcher Stack said that he said the church's revenue would plummet. That seems to tell me that if he's right, and again we don't know because it hasn't happened, and so there's never been a test case, but if he is correct and their revenue would plummet if they were to take away the law of tithing, it tends to show me that a lot of Mormons are not giving generously from their heart. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-07 14:54:16 / 2024-01-07 14:59:53 / 6

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