The Beginnings of Christian Reform (9)

Rebuilding social capital and social connectedness is not something that can be done by governments or corporations.[1]

If Christians are really serious about Biblical, national reform, we’ll have to be sure we begin at the beginning. What is that? Firstly, the individual, then the godly couple and family, then the church, and finally the community and nation.

Why this way? We have to go to the building blocks, which always means commencing with the individual. This is really standard conservatism, and rightly so, because the gospel applies first to individuals. Repentance is primarily an individual matter.

As Solzhenitszn wrote,

Repentance is the first bit of firm ground underfoot, the only one from which we can go forward not to fresh hatreds but to concord. Repentance is the only starting point for spiritual growth. For each and every individual. And every trend of social thought.[2]

Of course, trying to work from the top-down rather than the bottom up, has a short term appeal. But that’s reform by imposition, a form of authoritarianism, foreign to scripture, but standard for tyrants. Getting people to agree with you may be slow and sometimes difficult, but walls are made of bricks. With a few exceptions, they do not come in huge sections.

Paul uses the analogy of a builder. He wrote that

…no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will show it because it is to be revealed by fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work (I Cor.3:11-13).

Paul is making reference to the church, but any social institution such as the family has to ensure its construction is in accordance with God’s Word.

The family and the church should be the primary social institutions of every society, but by agreement, never by imposition. If we believers are faithful to scripture, this should happen. And in this, we have to consider the implications and consequences of our actions. Why?

In Malachi’s day, Israel was robbing God through their refusal to tithe (Mal.3:8). Consequently, God said “you are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!” (v.9). Thus there were national implications because of their refusal to tithe.

Then God said:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me in this,” says the Lord of house…(Mal.3:10).

If they obeyed this command, God said that “all the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land…” (v.12).

Thus, the church in a nation tithing should lead to national prosperity and blessing. There would be food in the house of God,[3] and this would mean not just monies for preachers or ministers of the gospel to make a living. It would mean that Christian welfare would rapidly increase, a fact of great significance.

This was the purpose of England’s medieval tithe barns. They were to feed the needy, especially in the winter, but the murderous, rapacious Henry VIII, using the pretext that the priests were corrupt, confiscated them around 1540. Too bad for the poor, now.

But when the church is tithing, there is “food in My house,” meaning there is bread for the needy, another reason to be at church. Now, the church is “rebuilding social capital and social connectedness.” It’s a part of being a relevant, needed social institution, again. How simple is that?

People could go to the church for bread, and truth. Needy people could be cared for. The tithe thus has an extremely important social function. This means we don’t just talk to people, but we show we are able to supply some of their basic needs. That means a growth in Christian social responsibility; an enormous issue. Christians and the church begin to have authority in the community. Now we’re getting serious about having a significant community function.

What will this lead to? A diminishing and ultimately a removal of the state’s role as a usurping welfare agency, something it was never supposed to be doing, at all. This will lead to people getting together, to greater community harmony, and to taxation reduction, so there is more money left in the community, meaning greater investment, prosperity and ability to help others. Who would want to argue against that?

Isn’t that something you’d want to be a part of? It’s all initiated by the faithful payment of the tithe by God’s people, along with its proper, scriptural use.

Remember me, O Lord, in Your favour toward Your people; visit me in Your salvation, that I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance (Ps.106:4-5).

Conclusion:

It’s the purpose of God that His church be a central institution in the life of every community. It cannot happen by imposition, but it begins with Christians accepting responsibility in such basic and concrete things as the tithe.

Is that what you’re ready for?  In the long term, the consequences will be out of this world.


[1] Quoted by Charles Hugh Smith, in “What’s Behind the Erosion of Civil Society?” (www.lewrockwell.com), 5/11/2018.

[2] Alexandr Solzhensitzn, “From Under the Rubble,” 1974, p.108-9.

[3] Bethlehem means “place of food.”

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