NOTE: This is a new blog site, hence every post here was recently uploaded. However, this particular blog was first published on October 2, 2016.


This is “No Bullshitting,” the radical Socio-Political Critic of Africa. I am Harry Agina. This is another Sunday, the 2nd of October, 2016; and, it is time for my mini “Sunday-Sunday Medicine!!!” This, is the third in my mini-series on TITHE IN CONTEMPORARY CHRISTENDOM, in my INVASION OF THE FUNKY PASTORS series. My topic this time is on tithe and tithing in Christianity.


My position is consistent that tons of socio-environmental changes between the ancient and the contemporary times warrant that things in the contemporary world cannot remain as they used to be in the ancient times. I maintain that as conditions in our world change, so must certain traditions change to reflect present realities. In other words, reality is relative to time and environment, period! In this regard, I have extensively addressed the matter of interpretation and application of tithe in the bible. I have compared the lifestyle and nature of the ancient Levites vis-a-vis today’s pastors, and come to the conclusion that there is no need to “feed” today’s pastors through tithe, because the reasons for the tithe, which were tenable for the Levites of old, are no longer tenable today. I have argued, in essence, that most of today’s pastors do not qualify for tithe.

However, I do not mean that tithe to feed the needy is outdated; indeed, it will never be outdated as long as there is humanity, because, unfortunately, there will always be the needy, and we should not let them starve. What I mean is that many pastors today are not needy, and there is no need for the rest of us to continue feeding them. All the conditions that qualified the Levites as needy and deserving of tithe—modest lifestyle, integrity,  absolute devotion to the service of God and man, disinheritance, non-materialism, et cetera—no longer exist today. Hence, tithes should go towards taking care of the other deserving needy people as contained in the bible—the “widows, orphans, foreigners”—and other categories that constitute the needy community in the contemporary society.

I spoke with many Christians who apparently had not even paid any attention to Deuteronomy 12 and 14, but they agreed with me just out of common sense, that tithe must be modified to reflect the present environment and conditions. And of course, I have also talked about those who believe that nobody has the right to question or tamper with the commandment of God. I definitely agree with this second group, too. Nobody should tamper with God’s commandment. However, what the group has failed to do is find out if indeed the pastors are preaching the commandment; are they sincere and correct? This is the group of people that blindly follow their pastors, often to their own detriment. As far as they are concerned, tithing must be observed exactly as their pastors define it, period! Anything else is disobedience to God, and they don’t even want to discuss it at all! So, you see Christians who actually, sheepishly obey a crook in Onitsha in southeastern Nigeria, who told them that tithe is no longer ten percent. He upgraded it to twenty percent of one’s income, and many are paying!

Now, let’s just assume that this last group of Christians is right; let’s just agree with them that today’s pastors deserve tithe. Let’s even agree with them that Deuteronomy 14 does not contradict the mad drive of funky pastors for tithe; just so that I may take my argument to another dimension with this question—what is titheable in the first place? In other words I am asking, in the good old days of the Levites, what really constituted “income? What was titheble, vis-à-vis what some pastors today define and preach as titheable income? Did it, and does it include gifts and loans?

The bible speaks of crops and livestock as the means of tithing because farming was the mainstay of the people of Israel at the time that the commandment was issued. Also, unlike today’s pastors and their complexity of needs and wants, the needs and wants of the Levites who were co-beneficiaries of the tithes were very simple—just to have a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food for their stomachs. Today’s pastors want to buy aircraft and other luxuries with our tithes.

With the social and economic environmental differences today, we have gone beyond crops to include other material things such as money in tithing; indeed, especially money. Whatever form of “income” we use for tithing, the principle is the same—every third year, a Christian is supposed to give ten percent of his or her earnings or income of that year “to the storehouse so that there may be food in my house,” said the Lord. And, every year the Christian is to feast on his or her ten percent income with his or her family, in the presence of God, and allow pastors to partake.

I am sure that the Israelites understood exactly what that commandment considered to be titheable. Not so today! There is a major confusion among Christians today—promoted by debased pastors—about the term income. We are quite confused about the exact definition of that word. We are pretty much alright and agreeable about salaries and wages; but does income include everything that a Christian acquires, such as loans, for example? I have discovered that many Nigerian Christians do not really know the correct answer to this question. And, even when some of us understand what income is, we still fail to agree about what portion of that income is titheable. For instance, if a Christian civil servant makes a salary of a hundred thousand naira every month; does ten percent of income mean ten percent of the entire hundred thousand naira (gross income) that he brings home as salary at the end of every month?

Some Christians say no to this question. Their understanding is that the worker must first take out all his or her basic living expenses for that month from the hundred thousand naira before he or she pays ten percent of the remaining sum. Hence, if his or her living expenses—transportation back and forth work, feeding, shelter, clothing, and sundry expenses—amount to fifty thousand naira for the month, then his or her tithe should be ten percent of the remaining fifty thousand naira, which is five thousand naira.

Others disagree. They believe that the tithe must be paid from the gross—the entire salary—which means that a Christian that earns a hundred thousand naira every month must pay ten thousand naira tithe every month before he starts his or her living expenses. A good question that comes with this position is this—suppose after taking out the ten percent from the gross the tither does not have enough to take care of his or her monthly survival expenses; what then happens? In other words, let’s assume that the tither’s survival expenses amount to ninety five thousand naira, but he/she has given ten thousand naira to the pastor. This means that he/she is now short of five thousand naira, and something worth five thousand naira must be deleted from his list of needs for the month—let’s say food, or his/her transport back and forth work for that month. Does he or she now go back to the pastor for financial help to make up the deficit after having given him tithe; or does he/she simply go without food for the month and die, or cancel work for that month and lose the job, while the pastor has billions of naira in his bank account somewhere?

There is yet a third category of believers—the ones that are confused about the definition of the word income. They believe that tithe goes beyond just the salary, to include any fund that they receive from any source for anything whatsoever, be it a donation or even a loan to start a business. In other words, they do not only pay ten percent of what they earn themselves; they pay ten percent of everything that ever enters their hands from whatever source. To illustrate, I will recount a very interesting, heated debate that I once had with a middle-aged Christian friend.

My friend was broke, and he needed the sum of 150 thousand naira to pay his children’s school fees. He had complained to his brother, who contributed 100 thousand naira to help him. This meant that he now needed only 50 thousand naira to make up for his children’s school fees—right? Wrong! My friend was still short of 60 thousand naira, because he was a “faithful” tither who believed that ten percent (10 thousand naira) out of the 100 thousand naira that his brother gave him belonged to the house of God as tithe.

          “So tell me,” I argued, “if I give you the sixty thousand naira that you now need to make up the 150 thousand naira for your children’s school fees, what would you do?”

          “Well, if you give me 60 thousand naira I will still have to give God His own ten percent share of six thousand naira tithe,” said my friend.

          “And that means that you would still be short of six thousand naira for the school fees.”


          “So, when does the cycle end?” I asked my friend, truly amazed at his reasoning. “If somebody else decides to give you the six thousand naira, you would still give six hundred naira to your church, and then you still have to look for a way to get the six hundred naira.”

          “Of course; that belongs to God.”

          Naturally, I had to ask my friend about his church and pastor.

          “Sand Fireman,” he responded.

          “Sand who?” I asked.

          “Sand Fireman,” he repeated. “That’s the name of my pastor. He is in Aguda, Surulere, here in Lagos.”

          Sand Fireman is one of the Nigerian one-man-owned church business proprietors that I definitely call funky pastors. Trust me, I met him after this debate, and I had a chat with him, so I knew by his words and carriage that he was definitely a funky pastor.

          “What sort of crazy name is that for a pastor?” I teased my friend. “And your Sand Fireman pastor actually told you that you have to give ten percent of any sum of money that gets into your hands to him, no matter how you get it and what it is for?”

          “Of course; that’s what the bible says. You are robbing God if you don’t do it.”

My friend represents many Nigerian Christians who have this view about tithe. Some also believe that if somebody gives them a loan to start a business, they have to give ten percent of that loan amount to the church even before they start the business. Another pertinent question—so, what if after paying tithe, the tither cannot start the business, because the remaining funds are not enough? In response to this question, there are people on the opposite side of the debate who certainly do not agree with the idea that a loan or donation is titheable.

All in all, there are probably as many people in the Christendom who believe that everything is titheable, as there are those that disagree with them. This is more for the fact that the all-encompassing tithers are blind followers of pastors, than for the claim that the biblical scripture on tithe is ambiguous. If they made any effort at all they would see for themselves that the scripture is simpler than they thought. The answers to their questions are all contained in the scripture, if only they would shed their unwarranted awe of their pastors and dare to ask questions. Incidentally, I attended in May 2012 a discussion forum at the Jubilee Christian Center—a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Surulere Lagos—where all church members were encouraged to present questions on any and every subject about Christianity. The questions were freely discussed and debated.

I have to say that I was very impressed with Pastor Wale Adenuga, the presiding pastor of the parish who introduced the questions-and-debate program. With that, Pastor Wale and his assistant—Pastor Bankole (Banky) Sadipe who masterfully moderated the program—gave a rare, positive and progressive demonstration of integrity and Christ-like leadership in the Nigerian Christendom. I had the opportunity to present different questions on tithing, and, as expected, there were divergent views amongst the discussants on every one of the questions. Some of the views were absolutely intriguing, which went a long way to support my premise that many Christians grossly misinterpret the Holy Bible. The most interesting to me were the variety of views about titheable income. The discussants represented the various views that I have presented in this book so far. In essence, some of the discussants agreed with my friend in Pastor Sand Fireman’s church who paid tithe on the money that his brother had given him to pay his children’s school fees, and ended up not being able to pay the fees. Some also argued vehemently that even loans are titheable.

As I sat there in the forum it all sounded to me like the proverbial/legendary “learning-inclined” six blind men of Hindustan that went to “see” an elephant. Obviously, they could not see the elephant, so they had to make do with whatever their sense of touch could guide them. One of them believed that the elephant was a spear, because he was only able to touch a tusk, which did feel like a spear. When another blind man touched an ear of the elephant, he thought that an elephant was shaped like a fan. And the one that touched only a leg of the elephant described the animal as a tree. Not to forget the blind man who touched the actual body of the elephant and swore that an elephant was a wall.

I have already stated that I expected all the divergence in Pastor Wale’s forum because the discussants were just ordinary Christians trying to grapple with what they perceived as mysteries of some contents of the Holy Bible. So, during the discussion my curiosity all along was on Pastor Banky and Pastor Wale, and their observations (interpretations) of the shape of the proverbial elephant (tithe). As always, they did not disappoint me with their maturity and show of integrity on the subject. They demonstrated that they had no intention to extort the congregation in the guise of tithe through emotional manipulation. They did not necessarily claim that their understanding of the scripture was perfect, after all they are only human just like the rest of the congregation. But they did exhibit better and sincere understanding as the spiritual guides that they were/are, and they believed that there is a limit to what a Christian should tithe. They also believed that a Christian can actually go way beyond the stipulated ten percent in tithing, as long as the person is blessed with the wealth and he or she is inspired to give abundantly for the work of God, and, it does not have to be called tithe. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that in ‘my book.’ My bone of contention is giving stupidly from limited resources and unreasonable sources. And then I have special interest against giving to the wrong churches and crooked pastors who do the wrong things with the tithes.

For instance, nothing can be more ignorant, indeed more stupid, than a poor man who fails to pay his child’s school fees because he believes that he has to pay tithe on the money that somebody else gave him to take care of the problem. Unfortunately, the funky pastors in Nigeria brainwash gullible Christians to commit such ridiculous acts, just so that they can continue to acquire enough money to live their debased flamboyant jet-age lifestyles. Christians in Nigeria, please stop your nonsense in the name of Christ.

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