Wow! The steady stream of excellent Creationism discussions have …

Comment on Northern California Conference Votes to Act Independent of the General Conference by Kenneth Christman, M.D..

Wow! The steady stream of excellent Creationism discussions have suddenly morphed into tithing and the withholding thereof. Quite a radical departure. While I would urge that you continue the former, I would strongly recommend that you thoroughly review the tithing practice. You need no help with the former, but permit me to offer some sketchy facts on the latter. For a thorough review, please consult your Bible–any scholarly Bible version except for J. J. Blanco’s Clear Word “Bible”, which offers additions, subractions, and alterations, thus rendering it completely unsuitable for serious Bible students.

While Melchizedekan tithing is mentioned in both Genesis and Hebrews, the SDA tithing system is not patterned after it, but rather, the Aaronic tithing practice. Interestingly, the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) does distinguish between an Aaronic priesthood and a Melchizedek priesthood.

The Aaronic tithing system was ordered by God on Mt. Sinai for the specific purpose of supporting the tribe of Levi, as the Levites were not going to receive an inheritance, and the other 11 tribes were to support Levi with 10% for the Levite service in the Temple in offering sacrifices to God for remission of sin. The Levites served as an interface between Israel and God. The sacrifices all pointed toward the coming of the Messiah, that ultimate sacrificial lamb. That tithing system was to last until there was no further need of animal sacrifices. Please consult Daniel 9:27, where in the middle of the 69th week, the Messiah would “cause the sacrifice of oblation to cease”.

Well, the Temple sacrifices did NOT cease in A.D. 30-31 with the crucifixion of Jesus. They continued until July 17, A.D. 70, just a few days prior to the Roman destruction of the Temple. They should have ceased then, as the veil between the Holy and Most Holy Place rent from top to bottom, signifying that God’s place on earth was vacated. With no more sacrificial requirements, the Levite ministry came to a conclusion for all those who accepted the Messiah as Son of God, and thus, the tithing system came to an abrupt conclusion as well.

Interestingly, Deuteronomy 14 describes tithes being also used for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow (the poor).

Did the early Christians tithe? Absolutely not. To have paid a tithe for the support of the Temple and its sacrifices would have been tantamount to denying the coming of the Messiah for remission of sin. Furthermore, it would have supported the entity that was directly responsible for the death of the Savior and the persecution and deaths of many early Christians. They did not tithe at all. By that time, they were giving far more than 10%. They supported the gospel with everything they had, including their lives. So, while God instituted the Aaronic (Levite) tithing system, it came to an end with the crucifixion of Jesus. Thereafter, God’s true followers (Christians) were required to follow all the way at whatever cost, not just 10%.

Mormons determined in the early 1800’s that extracting 10% from its members would cause the movement to grow rapidly. It did. Today, LDS continues the practice, but essentially does not have a paid clergy, and the financial resources of this church structure are immense. The SDA church did not initially begin advocating a tithing system, but soon found that it would work well. I would not be surprised if the SDA church borrowed this concept from LDS.

At any rate, the SDA church maintained that the tithe (10%) was only to be used for the support of ministers, Bible teachers, etc.). Other church ventures were to be paid for out of freewill offerings. For some, it is a huge leap to translate 10% of earnings to support the tribe of Levi as commanded by God to a different non-sacrificial system thousands of years later. I know of no Levite priests or ministers in either the LDS or the SDA church. As a matter of fact, the LDS refers to all non-Mormons as “gentiles”. Thus, even the Jews are gentiles as far as they are concerned!

As the worldwide SDA church grew, a small problem developed. In the North American Division, there developed a huge excess of “tithe” funds. In the other world Divisions, there was an excess of non-tithe funds. So, how is the church supposed to handle a situation where supposedly only “tithe” money is to be used for the support of the ministry? Well, this is how it works. The local conference collects the tithe from all the churches and keeps a certain percentage for paying the pastors. It sends a huge chunk on to the local Union Conference (at one time it was about 40%, but can vary). The Union Conference keeps a piece of that and sends the remainder on to the General Conference.

Meanwhile, world Divisions have an excess of non-tithe money and send this to the General Conference as well. In the past, it worked to the advantage of the world Divisions, as they generally got more for their non-tithe money that they submitted. After this little accounting trick at the G.C. level, excess tithe money is used in the rest of the world, while the “tithe” money suddenly becomes “non-tithe” money and via a system of reversions, reverts back to the local conferences. What do you suppose God thinks of all this? The Aaronic priesthood is long gone, sacrifices are long gone, and now we’re using accounting tricks to whitewash tithe money in order to maintain it is only to be used for the ministry? Is God amused? Perplexed? Saddened?

As for ordination of women, it would seem to me that God commanded all of us to spread the gospel in Matthew 28 and Mark 16. The issue has been brewing in the SDA church for decades. Neal Wilson was adamantly opposed to the idea, and his son Ted obviously feels the same. Are there other more central concerns to the gospel?

As for the creation of Union Conferences, it might be pointed out that several decades ago, there was quite a movement toward consolidation of Union Conferences, as much of the work was duplicative and wasteful. Those with a higher degree of resource conservation were in favor of consolidation. Those whose administrative positions were at stake, were adamantly opposed. If my memory serves me, both sides quoted Ellen White for their positions! Finding support for both sides was not difficult.

If you feel compelled to pay 10% of your earnings to a man-made organization, please feel free to contribute to which ever organization suits you best, as there is no Biblical instruction as to where those funds are to be deposited today. However, if you organize a mass rebellion in your church to send your church’s tithe funds to another conference, first consider the consequences. Check the title of your local church building. If it is held in the name of your local conference, as it most certainly is, you should first check with the officers of such conference and ask what the repercussions would be if the church should no longer channel tithe funds in the usual way. If the owner’s response is that the church body would be expected to vacate the premises, you should start looking for new facilities immediately.

I think you should be commended for your boldness. However, is this the hill you really want to die on? Why not send the conference the ultimatum that it should no longer support via financial contributions of any kind to any educational institution that advocates evolutionary theory? The conference should send no money to such institution, no students to such institution, etc. After all, if there is no Creator God, there is no need for a Savior for remission of sins. Furthermore, such a doctrine is directly contrary to the G.C. statement of beliefs, is it not? So, after issuing such an ultimatum, if there is no positive response, withhold tithes. If the conference evicts the serious church members for such, next appeal to the General Conference and see what kind of war ensues. It might make interesting reading in the pages of the Adventist Review, or maybe Christianity Today. At any rate, you would be taking a strong stand for the Creator God. While you’re at it, also insist that such pagan practices as yoga, tai chi, contemplative prayer, and other mystical practices be banned in SDA churches, educational, and medical facilities within the conference.

May God richly bless your efforts in teaching Creationism.

Kenneth Christman, M.D. Also Commented

Northern California Conference Votes to Act Independent of the General Conference
You made an excellent point when you pointed out that Ellen White made quite a few comments about tithing. May I suggest that you spend more time with the Greater Light, as you will find considerable internal conflict with the Lesser Light. You will always find unadulterated truth in the Greater Light.

Recent Comments by Kenneth Christman, M.D.

Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
Decay is perfectly natural in a sinful world. There was NO decay prior to the Fall. Non-decay does not require active maintenance on the part of God. His creation was perfect and did not require maintenance like human creations require. Model T’s require active maintenance as they are human creations. The human body God created would have lasted an eternity if sin (disobedience) had not interrupted such perfection. That is when decay started. That is when the genomic code started to deteriorate. It ultimately led to disease and death. God cannot be compared to a mechanic in heaven, as His perfect creation does not require repairs. While the price of sin (disobedience) has been fully paid for, the restoration to perfection has not happened yet. Once it occurs (which I believe will be soon), there will be a complete restoration that will not require a “mechanic” for active maintenance, as decay, degeneration, decay, death (all those ugly D’s) will no longer exist.

As for assuming that genetic mutations have occurred at a constant rate since the fall of Adam and Eve, we should consider the fallacies of assuming constant degradation of Carbon-14 and the problems such assumptions have created. As Creationists, we should exercise caution in making assertions we cannot prove.

As for God being bound by His own laws, let us consider Jesus bringing perfect peace and tranquility just by commanding the elements to be still during a raging storm. We cannot understand such divine power over EVERYTHING, including the power to breath life into a lump of clay which was instantly transformed into a perfectly fine human body with over 5 billion base pairs (the human genome) and able to perfectly replicate without decay or deterioration of the system. Satan also has supernatural power, but God’s power is infinitely greater. Whenever there is supernatural activity, it can come from only of two sources. We do know for a fact that postdiluvian human life spans rapidly contracted from ca. 900 years to circa 70 years in just a few generations. I’m sure most Creationists would agree that God had a hand in this, and that this was not “natural”. Whether He did this by altering the mutation rate, we have no way of knowing, as mutation rates were not measured at that time and there is no way for us to reconstruct those past mutation rates.

As for Einstein, Newton, and others, I would exercise restraint in following any of their religious or theological assumptions.

Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
We may have observed mutation rates in the recent past, but how do we know what mutation rates were 100 years ago, 1,000 years ago, or 6,000 years ago? Prior to roughly 6,000 years ago, we can safely say mutation rates were ZERO, as God’s creation was perfect, and there was no sin, death, or deterioration in the genomic code!

Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
While data suggesting the hand of the Creator God in the creation of all living things is always welcome, one should exercise great caution in assuming the constancy of mutation rates. After all, God shortened human lifespans from ca. 900 years to ca. 70 years in only a few generations. Do you suppose He might have done that by altering mutation rates? Do you suppose that a powerful God who breathed life into a lump of clay could easily tinker with mutation rates? Furthermore, mutation rates would have highly variable effects on life forms in different species based upon average lifespans. Let us hope and pray that more scientists will be troubled by uncovering data that will lead them to trust the Genesis creation account as the only scientifically logical explanation of how we got here.

The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
Your concern about mysticism within Adventism is well founded. Pastor Bill Loveless identified Ellen White in the pages of the Adventist Review as a “true mystic.” “Mysticism” is defined in the dictionary as a euphemism for the occult. Look it up.

The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
You are right. I am totally confused as to what distinguishes “Historical Old Covenant” from “Old Covenant Thinking”. You and Chris White maintain that Sabbath observance is not necessary for salvation. Ellen White clearly states that it is necessary. Chris and Ellen CANNOT both be correct.