Here are some problems with Adventist teachings regarding Tithing.
1. Amount of Tithe - Adventists teach that the tithe is one-tenth of our possessions--"all material things we acquire". The Bible teaches that tithe is 10% of our increase (Deut. 14:28), and the Levitical law only required the paying of tithe on increases in the harvest of the land and animals (Lev. 27:30-31):
And all the tithe of the land, [whether] of the seed of the land, [or] of the fruit of the tree, [is] the LORD'S: [it is] holy unto the LORD. ... And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, [even] of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD. (Lev. 27:30,32)
God only required tithe be paid on the increase of the two occupations for which there was direct dependence upon God's blessing in order to reap a harvest:
Compare the Biblical occupations of those who paid tithe with those who did not:
- The growing and harvesting of the "seed of the land" (vegetables, grains, nuts) and the "fruit of the tree".
- Increases in "herds" and "flocks" of livestock
Must Pay Tithe
Do Not Pay Tithe
Child care workers
Government leaders and administrative staff
Seamstresses and Weavers
Storehouse administators and staff
Wild game hunters
All other non-farmer non-herder occupations
As you can see, tithing was only imposed upon two occupations, and all the other Israelites never had to pay a single cent in tithe. Therefore, even if tithing was enforced upon Christians, there is absolutely no reason to believe it is imposed upon all occupations.
2. Use of Tithe - There are two tithes mentioned in Scripture, one in Num. 18:21-26, and a second in Deut. 14:22-29. The first tithe went to the Levites, and included products of the field (such as grain), fruit of the tree, and cattle. The second tithe only included the produce of the field. God gave specific instructions as to how the second tithe was to be spent. This is explained in Deuteronomy 14:22-29:
Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away),
then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own. At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (Deut. 14:22-29 NIV)
- The second tithe was set aside every year and on the first, second, fourth, and fifth years it was to be consumed by the family at the time of the yearly feasts in Jerusalem. It was not to be given to the Levites or priests.
- If the family lived so far from Jerusalem that it would be impractical to carry the food/wine such a great distance, then the family was to sell it and take the money and buy anything they wanted to eat and drink at the feast.
- On the third and sixth years the tithe was to be divided between the ministers (Levites), aliens, the fatherless, and widows.
- Every seventh year was a Sabbatical year, and the land was allowed to rest (Lev. 25:4), so there was no second tithe every seventh year.
Under the Biblical method, two-thirds of the second tithe would go to the family that earned the tithe, to be used to pay for food and drink for their religious festivals. The other third was to be split up and distributed between the ministers and the poor and helpless. This is quite different from the Adventist system which refuses to permit tithe money to be spent by the people earning it for their meal expenses during religious meetings. Furthermore, Adventists do not permit tithe money to be used to assist the poor. In the Adventist system the tithe is used to pay for the salaries of pastors, church administrators, and attorneys.4
3. Has Tithing been Repealed? - Adventists argue that since there is no specific verse in the New Testament repealing the practice of tithing, it must still be in effect. However, Adventists go to great lengths to show a distinction between the Moral Law and the Ceremonial Law. Adventists teach that the Ten Commandments are eternal, while the rest of the Levitical laws are no longer binding because of Christ's death:
"The ceremonial law had become a barrier between them [Jews] and other nations. ... Christ's death abolished this 'law of commandments contained in ordinances,' breaking down 'the middle wall of division' between Gentiles and Jews so as to create one new family of believers reconciled into 'one body through the cross' (Eph. 2:14-15)."5
It seems inconsistent for Adventists to teach the Ceremonial Law has been abolished and yet continue to insist that certain requirements in that law are still in effect.
If every law in the Torah is still in effect unless it has been specifically mentioned in the New Testament as being cancelled, then why do Adventists not keep the rest of the laws of the Torah? Why do not the Adventists follow the teachings regarding cleansings found in Leviticus 12-14? Where have these laws been repealed in the New Testament? What about the Sabbatical year of Deuteronomy 15? Where was this repealed in the New Testament? Other examples could be given. Let it suffice to say that just because a law has not been specifically repealed in the New Testament does not mean it is still in effect for Christians.
Conclusion (taken from "Tithing is Not a Christian Doctrine", Russell Earl Kelley, Ph.D.)
In God's Word, 'tithe' does not stand alone. It is the 'tithe of FOOD.' The biblical tithe was very narrowly defined and limited by God Himself. True biblical tithes were always: (1) only food, (2) only from the farms and herds, (3) of only Israelites, (4) who only lived inside God's Holy Land, the national boundary of Israel, (5) only under Old Covenant terms and (6) the increase could only be gathered from what God produced.
Therefore, (1) non-food items could not be tithed; (2) clean wild game animals and fish could not be tithed; (3) non-Israelites could not tithe; (4) food from outside God's holy land of Israel could not be tithed; (5) legitimate tithing did not occur when there was no Levitical priesthood; and (6) tithes did not come from what man's hands created, produced or caught by hunting and fishing.
From Christ's death until Christianity became a legally recognized religion almost 300 years later, the majority of great church leaders took self-imposed vows of poverty. This is historically documented! They took Jesus' words to the rich young ruler in Luke 18:22 literally 'sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and follow me.' Most church historians agree that these early church leaders for at least the first 200 years worked for a living and were self-supporting. A Christian leader could not tell a Roman census-taker that he was a full-time preacher of an 'outlaw' religion.
Clement of Rome (c95), Justin Martyr (c150), Irenaeus (c150-200) and Tertullian (c150-220) all opposed tithing as a strictly Jewish tradition. The Didache (c150-200) condemns traveling apostles who stay longer than three days and ask for money. And travelers who decided to remain with them were required to learn a trade. These early opponents of tithing are not quoted by tithe-teachers. ...
While disagreeing with their own theologians, most church historians write that tithing did not become an accepted doctrine in the church for over 700 years after the cross. According to the very best historians and encyclopedias, it took over 500 years before the local church Council of Macon in France, in the year 585, tried unsuccessfully to enforce tithing on its members. It was not until the year 777 that Charlemagne legally allowed the church to collect tithes. That, my friend, is the history of tithing found in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Americana and the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia for everybody to read.