“Tithe for 90 days and God will bless you — or your money back!” and other scams

An old investment scam went like this: A stock tip would be sent to random people, but half the people would be told the stock would go up, and half that it would go down.  It was a free, no-strings-attached offer designed to build trust with whichever half got the correct advice.  This would go on for a few rounds until the remaining group thought they were getting advice from Warren Buffet himself, as in, “Wow, this guy has been right 6 times in a row!  Please take lots of my money and invest it for me!”  Of course that would be the last they’d see of their money.

I was reminded of that scam when I read about this:Texas Megachurch Promises 100 Percent Refund in Tithe Challenge if ‘God Doesn’t Hold True to His Promise of Blessings’.

Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, led by Pastor Ed Young, has launched a 90-Day Challenge, encouraging members of the multi-campus megachurch to put God to the test by “bringing their tithes and offerings to the House.” “Each of us has a unique opportunity to be a part of the incredible life change happening around us at Fellowship Church by bringing our tithes and offerings to the House,” reads a description of the 90-Day Challenge. “If you are not tithing already, the 90-Day Challenge is the best place to start. We commit to you that if you tithe for 90 days and God doesn’t hold true to his promise of blessings, we will refund 100 percent of your tithe.”

Think about it: If you feel extra-blessed during the 90 days, you’ll keep tithing, so the church will win.  And even if you don’t feel blessed and they return your money, there is no net loss for them.  You weren’t tithing before, right?  And think about how few people will actually contact the church to demand a refund even if they didn’t feel extra-blessed.  According to false teacher Perry Noble’s video, all you have to do is call God a liar and they’ll return the money, no questions asked.

Why don’t they just preach the Bible accurately and skip the gimmicks?

2 Corinthians 9: 6-7 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

There was no mention of a tithe there.  The only mention in the entire New Testament was where Jesus whales on the Pharisees for tithing on their garden spices but neglecting the weightier matters of the law.

My official stance on giving is captured in Thoughts on tithing: Something to offend everyone!, where I note that if God expected the poorest Israelite to tithe and more, then maybe 10% isn’t so unreasonable to aim at.  It is a nice round number.  In fact, most of the people reading this are in the riches 1-2% of people who have ever lived.  Yet I would never want to suck the joy out of giving, so why would I be legalistic and demand a specific percentage when Jesus didn’t do so?  These guys distract from the Gospel and make the church look foolish to non-believers.

It is pretty obvious who will really be “blessed’ by this tithe campaign.  My prayer is that those being challenged with the “90 day tithe” will take 2 Corinthians 9 to heart and give joyfully based on what they have decided in their hearts to give — but that they will give it to a ministry with sound doctrine instead of these 

Hat tip: Glenn

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