Saturday, April 1, 2023


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The recent theme of tithing and its controversial smoke, which discourse has been taken to different info outlets, particularly the social media platforms, wherein it is being sweepingly controverted, even by untutored self-styled analysts, leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

The din of the controversy so deafening that mutism becomes quite an inconvenient option for critical thinkers, hence this innocuous intervention.

While the writer’s intendment is neither to raise religious disputations nor to deliberately hurt existing doctrinal specifics of the religious organizations,  it is nonetheless a very sad reality that institutions that should model and even drive piety, righteousness and set templates for sanity are themselves becoming subjects of criticisms.

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Though without any prejudice or bias against any particular religious organization, yet,  as a Christian of the tribe of the Anglican faith, into which one is birthed, baptised and spiritually built, and to which one must therefore profess some personal preference or emotional attachment, one is not a stranger to Tithing as a doctrine.

Even as a child in the Communion, I have always taken deep pleasure in being a third generation adherent of Anglicanism and presently, I am thrilled as well as privileged to serve as Diocesan Registrar of one of her Dioceses in Nigeria, West Africa.

Anglicans base their Christian faith on the Bible, customs, beliefs and practices of the apostolic Church, historic episcopate and writings of the ancient and generally influential Christian theologians, some of whom were eminent teachers and great priests and bishops, although with many reforms by Continuing Anglicanism.

Anglican interest with issues of social justice cannot be divorced with its earliest preachers. Richard Hooker, for instance, wrote that “God hath created nothing simply for itself, but each thing in all things, and of every thing each part in other have such interest, that in the whole world nothing is found whereunto any thing created can say, ‘I need thee not.”

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The above and others like it exposed Anglican social thought as a philosophy that regard God, nature and humanity in positive interaction and interconnectivity of the non-religious and the sacred in the build-up of the harmonious world. Such philosophy is rationale by a traditional English spiritual ethos, rooted in Celtic Christianity and reinforced by Anglicanism’s origins as an established church constituted by its structure in the life and interests of civil society.

A cursory look at Anglican history revealed that this philosophy has reasserted itself in movements of social justice. For instance, in the 18th century the influential evangelical Anglican William Wilberforce along with others, campaigned against the slave trade. In the 19th century, the dominant issues concerned the adverse effects of industrialisation.

Over the years, there have been plethora of theories, pronouncements and criticisms over tithing in the Christian world. Very instructive are the questions raised  over the increasing persistence of our modern day pastors that members of their congregation must pay tithes if they must prosper and make Heaven, in the face of the glaring facts that in Nigeria and other undeveloped countries majority of church members live in poverty while their pastors and families lap in riches and luxury.

Coming from Nigeria, the issue of tithing has generated a lot of controversy in recent days, geared by a controversial CoolFM On Air Personality, OAP, Daddy Freeze. Yet, in the midst of the hullabaloo created by the controversy, I came across the indelible and infallible position of the Primate of Anglican Church in Nigeria, His Grace, Nicholas Okoh.

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The Primate’s statement is so instructive and of vintage Anglicanism that I have chosen with complete sincerity and commitment to adopt and share same without his permission with the hope that the entire world would be blessed with this episcopal guidance.

Primate Okoh, who spoke in Abuja on the subject, said payment of tithes was not mandatory adding that failure to pay would not bring about curse. He explained, “Tithing is a very ancient tradition, Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek and people have become transfixed to that idea till today, but in the New Testament, giving modalities have other options.

“One, he says, admonishes that christians set aside a handsome portion every week which is to be given for the glory of God. Whether that is 10 per cent or whatever per cent, I don’t know, but the instruction is, set aside something every week.

“Then, there is the gift required to be give by all; the first concept is that your life is a living sacrifice. A sacrifice is something you offer and withdraw your hand, that means the Christian offers his life totally and the totality of his training, his money and everything he has belongs to God.

“Therefore, the question of saying, ‘God take 10 per cent, I would keep 90 per cent’ does not arise. Let me give an example: If you are a tither and you give 10 per cent to the Church, and after giving this percentage, somebody is very sick, and you still have your 90 per cent, will you close your eyes to the person’s need?

“You see, that is one of the weaknesses of tithing if you follow it mechanically. Then furthermore, in John chapter 6, Jesus asked people who had food to bring it, but only one young boy who had a lunch pack–two pieces of fish and five barley loaves, offered his.

“The mother gave him to eat as he was going about with Jesus so he would not be hungry. When Jesus asked for the bread, it was not only that boy that had, many had and did not bring, but the boy brought his own, he did not give Jesus two pieces of fish and keep the rest, he did not give the barley loaves and keep the fish, he gave everything and because he gave everything, the blessing of God multiplied it over and over.

“So the intention of the mother was met, the boy had enough to eat, other people who were there, almost 20,000 had enough to eat and to spare. Now, those who had and did not bring, their own became a waste. So, the point in this matter is that, when God is asking for something, you don’t give him 10 per cent.

“You give him what is worthy of his name: it might be more than 10 per cent, it might be 10 per cent, it might be anything depending on the situation he has placed you bearing in mind that every good and perfect gift comes from above. On the stand of some pastors that anyone who refused to pay tithe was under a divine curse, Primate said, “no , I don’t believe it, I don ’t curse anybody, God does not compel us to go, he only makes us willing to go. If God has given you a gift, he woos your mind, he makes you to see why. Remember that the gift you gave does not promote God.”

“He is not a young officer that would be promoted a senior officer or to an executive by your gift. God is full, according to the theology of Colossians, God is full, complete. When you give, it is you the giver that is blessed. The person giving is the one lifted up, God is not hungry. According to Psalm 50, he said if I were hungry for meat, I won’t tell you, the whole cattle on a thousand hills belonged to me.”

Similar to tithing practice in the sister’s faith, Islam, is Zakah, which is a form of alms-giving treated in Islam as a religious obligation or tax,  which, by Quranic ranking, is next after prayer (salat) in importance. Though not the exactitude of tithe, but in most mosques, you will find a box hung on the wall or kept in one corner with the inscription fisabilill’Lah (for Allah’s sake) on it. Anybody is free to put any amount in it, anytime he wants to. No announcement(but other mosques announce) and no fixed amount, and such monies are strictly used to buy kettle, mats and cover other mosque expenses, not for private jets or cars for anybody.

Yes, earliest missionaries of Anglican faith,  much more than members offerings or tithing,  invested and sacrificed so much that they churches, hospitals and schools where many of our nationalists were trained at no cost. Today, it’s a dangerous difference; now, needless controversies trail the propriety and piety of tithing, dragging the christaindom to the neighbourhood of querulous themes. None of these is permissible in Islam, and where muslims understand their religion, these fraudulent issues are minimised. Muslims offering goes to the needy in the society and not those who have What it takes to live an average life – the way it ought to be, where Christ’s law of love must reign supreme above the fume of flesh.

It delivers weight that a spirit filled Bishop has done a watershed intervention which I call a veil remover.  The writer can only raise the flag of caution as it has become imperative to do. Let it be said, on a final tone, that in the Anglican doctrinal style, Clergy (the body of all people ordained for religious duties, especially in the Christian Church) in the Anglican Church have no absolute control of the management and control of church funds/finance but a standing committee yearly elected for such purposes.

It’s therefore of major consequence to allow the tide of tithing tilt towards a sordid dimension by emphasizing its preeminence over loftier spiritual duties. Okoh, as a figure of faith has spoken, it thence becomes a matter of utmost need to toe alternative route to right what’s wrong.

Dr. Ajulo, a Lawyer and former National Secretary, Labour Party writes from Abuja, Nigeria.

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