Walter Brach's Letter To Tkach
Walt today feels much different than when he wrote this letter - it was a letter in response to Joe's Jan 1997 tithing letter. Joe's letter was no big deal - just the fact that he didn't address Walt's questions - and talked out of both sides of his mouth - just talked and talked and said nothing - I just reread them few minutes ago. (I deleted our address.)
February 24, 1997
Dear Joe Tkach,
I am writing to see if you can help me understand your January, 1997 letter to brethren & co-workers. Two words that best describe my feelings when I read your letter are GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT. The letter didn't surprise me. There have been too many signs along the way such as, offerings on holy days (yes, I know it's tradition), pledge cards, vote with your checkbook, subscription price, etc. Please help me to understand generosity listed as a fruit of the holy spirit. All the translations I have say goodness.
Can you give me some scriptures in the New Covenant about tithing being required? I am not talking about the New Testament, but the New Covenant.
It sounds like a big assumption to say it seems that some have decided to forsake their responsibility to God and to the church. Why would you think we are not giving to the Body of Christ (Christians)? Haven't you taught there are Christians besides those in the Worldwide Church of God? Does a Christian have to be affiliated with an organization? Can the Holy Spirit lead Christians to give? Where to give? And to whom to give? Isn't believing in Jesus and "whatever we ask in His name, He will do" sufficient?
Your dad's video (I think it was the first one concerning the changes in our understanding) was so inspiring, so clear; but your letter sure tries to cloud things. What I remember him saying was that tithing is no longer required. That video made me want, in my heart, to give even more to Worldwide Church of God. What is happening with headquarters? I did give until recently when I realized that I was giving to an organization that seems to be led by the Holy Spirit in a different direction than He is leading me. Isn't the important thing that we each follow His lead?
Don't get me wrong. I am still giving to the Body of Christ, but I am praying and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me in giving. Doesn't faith include going before the throne of grace and asking in Jesus' name that the Holy Spirit would guide Christians to give what is sufficient to do the ministry He wants you to do? I deeply and firmly believe in following the lead of the Holy Spirit.
We all have been called to a ministry. How should the ministry we have been called to be financed? How do we know we are following the lead of the Holy Spirit? Am I reading your letter correctly that we are laying up treasure in heaven when we tithe? What does Matt 6:21 really mean? Your letter tries to send me on a guilt trip to tithe to Worldwide Church of God. But Jesus has taken away all of my guilt trips and has given me free trips to the throne of grace.
I hope that you don't think that I am bitter. But I am disappointed. I pray for HQ and myself in this situation. I pray with others and have them pray for you and me. I would appreciate your answering my questions so maybe I can see a silver lining behind the clouds. When we are looking toward the Light, the shadows are always behind us.
Your brother in Christ,
WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD
JOSEPH W. TKACH PASTOR GENERAL
April 2, 1997
Mr. Walter G. Brach
Dear Mr. Brach:
Thank you for your letter of February 24th. You wrote that you were greatly disappointed by my January 1997 letter. Apparently, you thought that I said tithing was required. You also felt the letter tried to intimidate you into giving to the Worldwide Church of God. In your words, "Your letter tries to send me on a guilt trip to tithe to Worldwide Church of God."
I'm terribly sorry that you were offended by my letter to the members. I deeply appreciate the sacrifices so many of our members like yourself have made through the years to help support the church.
I can assure you we are not bringing back old covenant "triple-tithing." In fact, my January letter explained that our former teaching of triple-tithing was reformed. In the first sentence on page 2 I stated, "As you know, our church was once caught in the legalism of the old covenant three tithe system, and by God's grace we have been delivered from that."
I am saying exactly what my father and we first said about tithing in late 1994. The old covenant required 10 percent. The new covenant does not specify a percentage, and our righteousness is not judged by some arbitrary amount that another individual might say is the "right" amount to give. Christians need to examine their own circumstances in the matter of tithing. They should generously support the church's collective work of preaching the gospel to the best of their ability and remember that there are expenses involved in ministering to the church.
Perhaps it is my use of the words "tithe" and "tithing" that have been confusing. Please let me explain. Some have said we should not use this word at all because it means something very specific to our members. It's true that when we spoke of "tithe" or "tithing" in the past we immediately thought of the old covenant and strict "tripletithing" system. I don't use these words in that sense. When I speak of tithing, I mean it in the way the word is generally used in the Christian community to refer to our Christian responsibility to generously support with our offerings and donations the church's work of ministering and spreading the gospel of salvation.
Mr. Walter G. Brach Page 2 April 2, 1997
I stated in my letter, "We must not forget that the principle of tithing itself remains appropriate for Christians." Tithing under the old covenant demonstrated the generosity of the people and their faithfulness that God would provide. This principle of tithing is valid. So please understand what I mean when I use the words "tithe" or "tithing."
Having said that allow me to explain my other comments in the January letter. We should understand this was a general letter that was mailed to many thousands of people. Naturally, I wasn't speaking to individuals like yourself who have been faithfully supporting the church's ministries for years, without having to be encouraged to do so. Such individuals do not need any individual to teach them about supporting their church. They have something to teach us. All of us are extremely appreciative of the generous offerings and donations that so many have given.
My point in the January letter was that if the Holy Spirit is leading us we will understand the need to support, as generously as we can, the Christian work our fellowship is doing in ministering and spreading the gospel of salvation. I think most of our members and supporters would certainly agree with that. I hope you would as well.
I must be concerned--we all must be concerned--about the present and future ability of the church to carry on the gospel work and prepare the brethren for works of service (Ephesians 4:12). My mention of tithing in member letters is not intended to urge people to give what they do not have, nor to urge members who are faithfully doing their part to do more. But, there are members who are not giving as they should.
I feel that I am responsible to God to remind our brethren that God loves us and that we need to respond and support the church which nourishes us in the faith and helps bring the gospel to others. There are monetary costs involved in having fulltime pastors and meeting places for our services. The work of answering questions, of training ministers and staff, of producing literature, of administering the activities of the church, of evangelizing--to name a few--require financial resources.
In fact, I receive many letters from members who urge me to speak out more forcefully about tithing so that their pastors will not be let go from our employment or that we will not eliminate a church activity or program. The fact is, we have been forced to eliminate just about all the programs and activities we can. Any further budget cuts we have to make will basically impact the field ministry. We have cut everything else to the bone already. The reality is that the money members give now goes mostly to provide their own pastors and congregational expenses. We just do not want to terminate any more faithful and needed pastors. Under those circumstances, I certainly must continue to encourage members to give what they can and should give.
God loves cheerful givers. We all know that deep down in our hearts. Doesn't it stand to reason that each of us should prayerfully evaluate our giving and honor God with our substance? Shouldn't this be part of our worship and devotion to the God who gives us all we have and makes us his own children to be glorified with him forever? I have received many letters from our church members who thanked me for reminding them to be generous.
I know you understand that. I apologize if any of my comments about tithing were misunderstood as a return to the legalism of the past. Nothing like that is intended or will happen. Neither do I mean to judge or condemn any member's relationship with God based on what he or she is able to give. We stand or fall before God on our love for him, not on the evaluation of others.
I only ask each person to be faithful and generous in supporting the church's financial needs based on what God has placed on their hearts. I know you have done --and will do--what is possible, what is responsible and what is right. Thank you for your continued and faithful support and prayers. My prayers are with you and all the brethren.
In Jesus' love,
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