The Charismatic Gift of Giving or the Law of Tithing? Which?
FATEB – 27 January 2006 Dr. Peter W. Dunn
Introduction: Having taught the books of Acts several times at FATEB, I have read several exegesis papers on the Acts 2.41-47 and Acts 4.32-37. There was even at least one sermon here in chapel on one of these passages. What has struck me is that in every case Fatebian exegetes and preachers have placed the emphasis so squarely upon the imperative: this is what we must do if we wish truly to be the community of God. When I have taught Matthew 5.20, where Jesus says that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, we will surely not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, I have told my students that the problem with our righteousness as evangelicals is that our righteousness too often IS the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Because our righteousness is the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, we see the actions of the earliest disciples, adhering to the apostle’s teaching, joining for the breaking of bread, the holding of all things in common, as prescriptions—things that God requires of us as Christians in order for us to be a good community of faith. Since the absence of these qualities in our community continually besets us, we are forced to preach sermons and write exegesis papers making law out of passages which do not come to us in the form of a law, but as a description of true Christian community as it was experienced in the nascent church. At least the Pharisees had the excuse that their tradition was based upon the Torah, which really is in the form of a law.