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Postscript

I have been very gratified by the favourable reviews of my paper by several pastors and seminary professors. Some of them gave helpful extended critiques, pointing out a few weaknesses in my approach. I hope to address these points in greater detail at a later date in order to buttress my existing arguments; here I can only give some cursory comments.

In the conclusion of the aforementioned paper on Gen. 14:18-20 I tried to summarize my position as follows:

Some will speak of the need for a "guideline". But why do we need to go back to this rather unique and isolated incident, when we have a much superior example? What about: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, in order to make you rich through his poverty." (2 Cor. 8:9; ISV)? Or what about: "I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:19b,20; ISV)? If Christ and His sacrificial giving of Himself on the cross for undeserving sinners like us cannot motivate us, then nothing else will! The New Covenant paradigm for the Christian life is clearly Christocentric and "cruciformic".

It is NOT the amount, but the attitude that really matters. The use of the term "tithing" should be abolished in our discussion of Christian stewardship since it focuses on the amount ("tithe" means "one tenth"!), and because it inevitably gets associated with the obligation of tithing under the Mosaic covenant. The point of the NT teaching is that we give according to our ability and according to the needs at hand, from a heart of overflowing gratitude that has truly grasped the goodness and generosity of God's grace.

Or to put it another way, we may gratefully delight in the bountiful gifts bestowed upon us, but ultimately, our desire and delight is in the grandeur and glory of the great Giver himself!

Isaac Watts perhaps says it best in his moving and beautiful hymn:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
……
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Footnotes

  1. "The Patriarch and the Priest-King: An Examination of Genesis 14:18-20 in its Historical, Literary and Theological Context". (back to text)
  2. "Considering the Church [#21in a series]", (audiotape of a sermon preached at Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church on Feb. 20, 1994). (back to text)
  3. "Fund-Raising: The Methods used in the Early Church compared with those used in English Churches Today", EQ 70:2 (1998):134. (back to text)
  4. Beyond Tithing. Paternoster Press, 2000. (back to text)