Saturday, January 7, 2012

One Cent Too Heavy

The principle of The Tithe finds its roots in Old Testament history. It is a terminology that refers to “one tenth” of anything, and applies to things that are given to God, be it the offspring of herds, the productivity of the land, etc. During the time of the Law, tithes were commanded, and operated in part as a means of support for the extensive system of priests who served in the tabernacle or Temple. Many Christians of all major denominations apply this principle. They believe that it is right and good to give of their substance and finances to their church; and for the purpose of supporting their local assembly, they regularly make payments amounting to ten percent of their income. This is usually done in addition to other offerings. Some Christians believe this is a freely given offering, others that it is a required “payment”. Required or not, a majority of Evangelical Christians believe it’s a good thing to do.

 New Testament Christian Church is one of several organizations who promote tithing as a New Testament commandment. They haven’t a leg to stand on in support of this teaching, and come about their conclusions through textual acrobatics. The goal of every New Testament Christian Church pastor is to teach you that God expects you to perform this service. They will not pressure you individually right away, but it will be made known, and will constitute one of many “lines of demarcation” between the saved and the unsaved. You will be told it is a requirement, that “you have not given God anything until you have paid your tithe.” You will be encouraged to tithe in exchange for God’s blessings. If this does not work, you will be told that all your substance will be cursed and that “God will get his tithe” one way or another, either through circumstances or by extracting a proverbial pound of flesh. Do not think that the pressure to make these regular payments will ever let up. They will not come knocking your door down to break you legs like loan enforcers, but you will be reminded regularly from the pulpit that you are not a Christian if you do not pay your tithes.
  What’s more, these tithes are to be placed into an envelope and labeled with your name and the amount enclosed. Many churches follow a similar practice, for their own administrative reasons and/or for tax purposes. Here at New Testament Christian Church, your tithing records are being kept as a dossier of your life and spiritual condition. Should you miss a payment, your pastor will become “concerned” and may find it necessary to speak with you about this “oversight.” Ultimately, he believes that God has no use for people whose names do not show up on his tithing report. All those who do not pay their tithes have their place in the Lake of Fire, according to him, and he may at times repeat another favorite Davis-ism and remind the congregation that “If you owe God one PENNY of tithe, and the Rapture of the Church takes place, you’re ONE PENNY too heavy to go.”
  R. W. Davis makes no secret of his childhood poverty, and his experience of growing up during the Depression. He has often spoken of his desire to be wealthy and successful, of how the money flashed by business executives, salesmen and bankers filled him with the fires of ambition and longing; how the poverty of his upbringing drove him to succeed, to live in a nice home, to have all the money he needed, to heat his home without worrying about the cost, and to always “go first class”. He has organized NTCC in such a way that the local pastor looks upon the Tithe as his income (for all practical purposes), so that his income is limited only by his ability to produce tithe-paying attendees. On top of this, ten percent of all church finances are then passed along to the organization, every aspect of which is under Davis’ ultimate control. It is a very simple pyramid in which commandments go down and money goes up. R. W. Davis teaches all candidates for the ministry very explicitly that “Your church is a business!” This is one of many examples of how NTCC twists the scripture to favor its own power, prestige and prerogatives (alliteration unintended). R. W. Davis quotes Jesus: “…I must be about my Father’s business..” and says in essence “There you have it. I didn’t say it–Jesus said it! The ministry is a business.” The listener thinks “Wow! I never thought of it that way.” No normal Christian would think of it “that way”.
  As the service is beginning, after the singing of a couple of songs, the pastor will begin to receive the offering, a ceremony punctuated by the exhortation that “All Christians Pay Tithe”. This is something he is taught to say. The implication is clear to all those who do not agree that tithing is a commandment to Christians–you are obviously NOT a Christian. The pastor is motivated, without even realizing it himself, by a simple formula that might best be expressed in the following manner:
  A blessed church is a growing church.
  A blessed Christian is a giving Christian.
  Success = (attendance) x [(Tithes + offerings) per member] , or…
  S = A x $/A
  Simple algebra renders the outcome of this formula as…
  S = $
  Please Do Not Turn With Me
  Those who place themselves under the spiritual leadership of R.W. Davis soon find that this man is driven by peculiar motivations that can only be fully explained by a thorough psychological analysis. One of the defining events of his life, as has been stated, is The Great Depression. This has sculpted within his character some very fine and admirable qualities, yet has also rendered him incapable of seeing some very alarming flaws. The refusal to learn any lesson twice, or the tendency to move with alacrity to quickly snuff out the possibility of a problem arising a second time, is one of his many assets and at the same time one of his liabilities. This two-sided coin is spent in many venues and for many purposes. The erection of a fence around the NTCC campus at the slightest provocation is almost metaphorical for everything he does. Unwieldly rules are enacted to prevent bad things from happening, with worse consequences as a result of the rules themselves. The average person can do no less than breech many of them in the course of doing what is perfectly right and normal.
  One of many madcap manifestations of this trend is the practice of leaving Bibles at home. The students of the NTCC Seminary, those ministers who attend the Mother Church in Graham, Washington, and many members of local churches flying the NTCC banner will ordinarilly attend church services without bringing their Bibles. Their is an official reason for this, and there is a real reason as well. The official, ostensible reason is to be found in a past decade, when students of the seminary frequently forgot to pick their Bibles up from the pew before departing the premises. Every church in America has this problem, for which we should all be thankful since an abundant availability of the printed Word is the major culprit. Tiring of the traffic in the lost-and-found department, Davis enacted a rule that “you should leave your Bible at home.”
  But the real reason for this rule should be obvious when viewed in the light of this particular group’s system of management. Pastors of normal Christian churches generally anounce their textual reference for the day, saying something like, “Please turn with me if you will to the fifth chapter of Mark and we will begin reading at…” This way the people can read along. R.W. Davis, when instructing his hearers to leave their Bibles at home, knows that he is violating the Berean principle, in which the speaker’s facts are thoroughly examined by his audience. Not that the Bereans brought their scrolls to church–they did not have their own individual copies. But in this country and in these times, it is perfectly easy, inexpensive and normal for Christians to read along with the preacher. Sure they forget to pick their Bibles up, but other churches simply maintain a stockpile of lost-and-found Bibles without suffering such disproportionate heartburn over the issue. Why does it bother R.W. Davis?
  The key is found in his own words. When reading his text in preparation to preach, he purposefully neglects to cite the place where the text is found. Then he asks himself aloud, mockingly and for the benefit of anyone who may be thinking for themselves, “Well, how am I supposed to know where you’re reading from, Preacher?” After a moment’s pause for effect, he answers his own question with a note of exasperation, “I’m reading FROM THE BIBLE! That’s where!” Local preachers emulate this bizarre behavior. When a visitor notices that the passage was not cited, they will assume it was a mistake, asking “Where did you read from?” Sometimes the response will be a testy, “I was reading from THE BIBLE.”
  The explicit and oft-stated motivation behind this response is, “You can trust me.” This gets to the very heart of NTCC. The entire organization is founded upon R.W. Davis. The ministry of R.W. Davis is entirely founded upon his presumption of Apostolic authority. Therefore, it is to be assumed that everything he says is true and reliable, and you can follow him without danger, even if he is wrong. His authority under Christ makes everything OK. To question this, or to challenge him on any point at all, leaves the inquirer bearing an unenviable label. Those who question R.W. Davis, his doctrines, his authority, his prerogatives or priviledges, are simply unrighteous sinners. In Davis-ology, they are “not of God”; they are rebellious, and unbelieving. This filters down through the ranks. All it takes to elicit a gasp from a local NTCC congregation is to question the pastor’s authority or doctrine.
  R.W. Davis has built his organization upon himself and his opinions, condemns those who do not easily fall under his leadership and control, and loses his temper at the thought of being seriously questioned. Nothing could be more ridiculous to him than to suggest a relaxation of top-down, militant, pastoral authority and control. Nothing sends him into a rage more quickly than the idea of rebellion, which is any disagreement with the authority structure he represents and supports. We have stated previously that the first leg in the NTCC authority stool is: Push, and people will move. The second leg is: Those who do not move, I do not need. With R.W. Davis, you are either all the way in, or you are all the way out and on your way to hell. If you do not trust him automatically and without doubting, if you do not accept his apostolic primacy, he simply does not want you around him.

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