*Brace yourselves, because this article is very lengthy. The subject, however is vitally important, and many need to hear it, confirm it with the Word of God, and flee false doctrine…
Listen to me and listen good. I don’t give a s..t what happened to you. You hear me? Now get yourself together, get back out there and git me my money! - “Goldie” from the 1973 classic “The Mack”
Goldie the pimp lashed out at his “employee” (which is what desperate pimps do) because his cash flow began to severely constrict. He didn’t care about competition, the economy, or lack of “customers” - Goldie wanted his money!
Well, those words might have also been uttered recently by the Senior Pastor Pimp at Higher Living Christian Church (formerly New Birth South). I have written extensively about The Pimp of Hampton (GA) and his club in the past – overtly and covertly. The club is leaking leaders and members like the Titanic, and people are finally growing weary of hearing lie heaped upon lie, amateurishly disguised as the Word of God. No matter how many trinkets are dangled in front of the lemmings sheep who are still there because they need “covering”, the money is beginning to only trickle in. Sure, people are losing their jobs, homes, and families – but they are also sick and tired of seeing The Pimp of Hampton driving a Bentley, living in a $1M home, and prospering (with their help, no doubt) as they continue to suffer hardship.
So, the Pimp of Hampton has channeled his inner “Goldie” and resorted to doing what any self-respecting pimp would do…threaten to unleash his mafia on them if they don’t pay up.
I have been hearing (from multiple unrelated sources) about “the letter” – an intimidating correspondence sent out to anyonewho serves in leadership at The Pimp of Hampton’s club AND is in arrears on their “tithe payments” (from ministers and paid church staff all the way down to nursery volunteers). This correspondence is sent to put them on notice that “Daddy” isn’t happy with their inconsistent tithing, and he’s not going to take it anymore.
“Dis-fellowshiping” church members for not “tithing” is nothing new, yet the threat is still surprising.
Even though I know how desperate The Pimp of Hampton has become recently, I would never have believed the tone of “the letter” – until someone sent a copy of it so that I could share it with the blogosphere (personal information redacted):
Hello (name redacted),
The 2008 End of Year Financials & contribution statements are closed and Pastor Landers has been provided with a view of the 2008 tithing records for ALL ministry leads and it’s CRITICAL that EVERYONE is operating in the order of the house as a member and LEADER of Higher Living Christian Church.
Consistency in tithing is not optional for LEADERS. It is a requirement. Any LEADERS experiencing tithing issues at the close of 2008 will be subject to a probationary warning letter and a quarterly review of their contributions, throughout year 2009. If tithing requirements are not met, LEADERS Will be subject to disciplinary action including suspension or being asked to step down from leadership. The next review of LEADER contributions is scheduled on April 1, 2009.
(personal information redacted – essentially stating that the recipient of the letter agreed to “submit to leadership” when they joined) adhering and following the leadership of the Senior Pastor and the leadership that has been appointed to the lead the ministry in which you are submitted and committed. Consistency in tithing is a condition of your submission and commitment to God and with the Higher Living Christian Church ministry. Failure to adhere to any HLCC governing policies can lead to probationary warnings, suspension or dismissal.
Are you interested in bi-weekly automatic debit drafts for your tithe and contributions?
Obtain a automatic draft form from Deacon (name redacted) or (name redacted) for processing.
Are you busy serving on Sunday and forget to drop your tithes in the offering basket?
Place your tithes on the altar, prior to service or make sure to utilize the brown receptacles in the main lobby or near the elevator, before or after service.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me in tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and try me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sake, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground.” (Malachi 3:8-11)
Yup. The Pimp of Hampton is teetering on the edge of insanity – and this salvo sent even more contributors to the exits recently as well.
Rather than shaking my head in dismay and thanking God through Jesus Christ that I no longer subscribe to this foolish cult-like heresy, please indulge me for a moment as I succinctly present scriptural proof that tithing is an Old Testament law that modern day pulpit pimps, wolves, vipers, false teachers, money grubbers et al wield as a 10% tax and intimidation technique to take your money.
Let me be clear – we are commanded by God to give for the furtherance of the Gospel, the care of the Elder who preaches the Gospel, and the needs of those around us (from our household to the community and more). We are not commanded to contribute a fixed amount (a tax, if you will) under the duress of an imminent curse. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, Paul commends the Corinthian church to give generously and in joy - inside and outside of the church, and we should give according to our income (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). We should practice what I call “grace giving” – giving as the Lord leads to whomever He leads you to give – and in whatever amount. Many embrace the tithe (pastors and parishioners) because it is “lazy benevolence” – it’s easier to give “to the church” and hope that they will distribute money and aid throughout the community instead of bringing food, diapers, money, and other resources directly to those in need yourself.
The averageChristian would rather lay $100 at the alter and expect their “breakthrough” than to give that same $100 to a single mother scraping her change together in the Kroger supermarket, primarily because the average Christian has been convinced that God will curse them if they don’t lay that money at the alter, whereas ignoring the single mother in need won’t cause the “devourer” to “invade their storehouse”.
Tithing was a requirement of Old Testament law where the Israelites were told to give 10% of their earnings and crops to the Tabernacle. Since the priests lived in the Tabernacle, they were sustained by the tithes (or 10% “tax”) of their “congregation” (Deuteronomy 26:12-15). Numbers 18 details the ordinance of the priesthood, including tithing and its original intent, and Leviticus 27:30, Deuteronomy 14:24, and 2 Chronicles 31:5 all offer evidence of the requirement of tithing for Jews under the Old Covenant.
Aside from Paul’s admonitions to care for the needs of the Gospel, there is no reference under the New Covenant (through Jesus Christ) that Christians are required to pay any tithe or tax. There are countless mentions of giving for the sake of the saints, but no mention of a set percentage as a “minimum”. Even when Jesus mentions the tithe in the New Testament, it is in reference to Jews and their custom (Matthew 23:23). Paul even admonishes that saints pay for the care of good elders (1 Corinthians 9:9-14), but even Paul doesn’t advocate throwing good money after bad when you see that your money is being wasted on extravagant living and excess while those in need (in your own congregation)still go lacking. And just to be completely clear – The Pimp of Hampton does NOT live in his club – he has a $1M home surrounded by a gate to keep the great unwashed at bey. He should be well compensated for serving in Gospel ministry, but he should preach the TRUE Gospel, and he SHOULD NOT live in extravagance while the sheep under his care are suffering…AND HE SHOULD NOT KEEP BEGGING FOR MORE.
Having said all of that, the tithing legalists will talk about how tithing is applicable because it falls within the order of the priesthood of Melchizedek (or some other wishy-washy recounting of Abraham paying a tithe to Melchizedek). When you read Hebrews 7 in (entirety and in context) we see the true application of the Levitical priesthood AFTER the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and Hebrews 8 details our New Covenant under Jesus Christ. Further, Hebrews 7:12 explicitly details the shift from the Old to the New Covenant.
And for those of you who adhere to the admonition of your pimp to “give your tithe first before you give anything to anybody else!”, you would do well to heed 1 Timothy 5:8 (my emphasis in bold):
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Rather than address “the letter” line by line, I’ll tackle it in whole. The Pimp of Hampton can hand down any edict that he wants – it’s his church (I know…it should be “God’s church”, but it’s not. The Pimp of Hampton has fashioned and designed a kingdom after his own heart, and he got it – so the Lord has nothing to do with that club). The staffers who work there who were threatened with being fired unless they got “caught up” on their tithes received a valid threat because Georgia is a right-to-work state, which means that you can quit your job for any reason, and you can be fired from your job for any reason.
Threatening people who volunteer in ministry is within the pimp’s right as well – again, it’s his club. When you submit to a pimp and his authority, then you are subject to the pimps rules (see Goldie’s quote above). It does not matter that you lost your job, are supporting family and friends with your “extra” money, or you’ve just decided to stop paying your tax to the club, the pimp has decreed that your service is useless unless you are “in good standing” with your giving. To him and his ilk, your giving is equal to or greater than your heart for the service of God.
Your first peek into the heart of the Pimp of Hampton should have been his lack of concern about why your money is tight right now…just the fact that your money is tight and he hasn’t seen it much lately.
Where I draw the line to separate the pimp’s rights and heresy is the continual intentional twisting of Malachi 3:10 (or in this case, Malachi 3:8-11). Please pay close attention – when you read the book of Malachi in entirety, you will see that God is pronouncing His judgement on disobedient priests who absconded the sacrificial offerings for themselves. In fact, Malachi 2 is subtitled “Priests to be Disciplined”. So, as you see, we have to go through 2 full books of scripture where God is “spanking” the priests before we get to Malachi 3, and specifically verses 8-11.
When you read the Word of God in context, you see just how far off base the pimps are when extorting your money. You are bound and intimidated into giving a tax for fear of eternal curse and damnation from God – yet His Word clearly states that He wasn’t even talking about you! But the pimps don’t want you to read the Word for yourself, because you’ll then have no need for his “covering”.
It’s shameful, it’s despicable, and it is an affront to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the liberation we have through His Redeeming Blood. Ask yourself, why would God send His Son to free us from the bondage of sin and death yet require us to pay into a system of bondage that never applied to us?
If you are reading this article and you are still a member of the Pimp of Hampton’s club (and I know this blog is well read and discussed within the club), then you must repent of your allegiance to this false gospel, flee the cult that you have been involved in, and repent before the Lord Jesus Christ. Find yourself a bible believing pastor who preaches and teaches for the glory of God and not the fame and adoration of men (hint, you might have to find a church that does not have a television ministry, or a huge building).
The Lord Himself knows of your distress, and He will repay those who intentionally deceive you in His Name:
Jeremiah 23:11-12 (New American Standard Bible)
11“For (A)both prophet and priest are polluted;
Even in My house I have found their wickedness,” declares the LORD.
12“Therefore their way will be like (B)slippery paths to them,
They will be driven away into the (C)gloom and fall down in it;
For I will bring (D)calamity upon them,
The year of their punishment,” declares the LORD.
And since the Pimp of Hampton also reads this blog, pray for him. Pray that he repent before the Lord and return to his First Love, lest his false teaching continue to anger the Lord:
Jeremiah 23:1-4 (New American Standard Bible)
2Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to (D)attend to you for the (E)evil of your deeds,” declares the LORD.
3“Then I Myself will (F)gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply.
For more solid biblical exegesis of tithing, see these excellent resources:
- “Tithing – Yet Another Approach”
- The Barna Group – “Trends in Tithing and Donating”
- L. Ray Smith’s “Tithing Is Unscriptural…”
- Tithe Stewardship & Church Tithing
- “Should The Church Teach Tithing?”