THE issue of tithing remains contentious one across Christian denominational divides because of varying interpretations of its origins and purpose.
Why a tithe is given, to whom and for what purpose are some of the many questions that have kept communities in the Christian faith searching for understanding.
Insistence on paying of tithes has also been the reason – or excuse – for some to stay away from certain churches.
It is within this context that a Harare prophet, Prince Wonderful born Wellington Kahari, says his colleagues who are collecting tithes and offerings need deliverance themselves if they are serious about salvation.
Founder of the Loving Christ International Ministries, which he says he dissolved after an encounter with the Holy Spirit in 2013, Prophet Wonderful says it was revealed to him that ministries and churches who collect tithes and offerings in the name of God are destined for hell fire.
“In 2013 the Holy Spirit visited me in my room as I was praying and preparing for my Sunday service. The Holy Spirit said to me, ‘You have sinned against me for you have walked after the error of Nigeria and Ghana’.
“I asked what the error was. He then said the error was the founding of churches and ministries, making oneself a president and founder of denominations, paying and collecting tithes and offerings.
“The Holy Spirit told me that all those who have formed churches or ministries, appointing themselves presidents and founders, those who are attending, those who are collecting or paying tithes and offerings in the name of God are destined for the lake of fire.
“These three things blew my mind and the following day, Sunday, I announced that Loving Christ International Ministries has been closed with immediate effect. It was not an easy decision, but it was more valuable to follow Christ than the worldly desires.
“We began to gather about five of us in the name of Jesus Christ according to 2 Thessalonians 2:1 and 1 Corinthians 5:4. A lot of our people decided to join other denominations; they could not stomach the ‘new light’.”
He says their gathering is growing – and no one pays tithes or gives offerings.
“If we want to pay our bills or rent we just collect the money among ourselves and pay. God never said Christian converts are supposed to pay tithe for the upkeep of the church or its leaders and we are just following that,” he says.
Prophet Wonderful also has some choice words for men and women of the cloth who are fond of titles.
“In the encounter with the Holy Spirit I was questioned, who in the scriptures was anointed by God to be a founder of a church or ministry? And who ever collected tithes or offerings in the New Testament of Jesus Christ among His apostles, especially among the Gentile nations of which Zimbabwe is one.”
He continues: “The spirit gave me Ephesians 2:11-16 which plainly differentiates between Israelites (Hebrews) and us the Gentiles.
“In verse 11 the Apostle Paul was teaching the Gentiles and showing them how the Hebrews or Israelites viewed them in time past. The Gentiles were without Christ, meaning it took Jesus Christ for the Gentiles to be accepted of God.
“Hence tithes and offerings were paid by Israelites only, those who happened to be biologically Hebrews bonded with the Levitical priesthood.”
He adds that Malachi, widely used to encourage people to give offerings and tithes, is clear on the matter.
“In verse 9, God says they are cursed with a curse – even this whole nation. Was God cursing Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Afghanistan or Britain? No! It was the Israelites. God did not say He would curse nations but a nation.
“Malachi 1:1 reveals that the nation which was going to be cursed for failing to pay tithes and offerings were the Israelites not spiritual Israel (Gentiles) but the real Israel, the sons of Jacob.
“I couldn’t count the times I have heard self-appointed ministers of the gospel berate their congregations for ‘robbing God’ in tithes and offerings.
“This verse in Malachi certainly means what it says. Someone was defrauding God of tithes and offerings, but wait until you find out who it is that God blames for this act.
“This is the time past referred to in Ephesians 2:11-13 and when all this was happening among the Hebrews who are Israelites, Gentiles were not part of these covenants. They were aliens. Therefore, the collection of tithes and offerings amongst Gentile countries and people is the work of the Devil.”
He added that in the book of Acts 15 a dispute arose between the Jews and the Gentiles when certain Jews wanted to force the Gentiles to follow the Law of Moses.
“The apostles Peter and James refused that the Gentiles should follow the Law of Moses, but that Gentiles should believe in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“The Lord Jesus Christ Himself never collected tithes and offerings from the people. And Jesus Himself said the New Testament was in His blood which was supposed to be shed – Luke 22:20.
“He is the High Priest of the New Testament. If God freely gave eternal life by the death of Jesus Christ, then why should all other material things of this earth be paid for to these workers of darkness?
“What can be more precious than Jesus Christ, the one true offering which alone was acceptable to God?
“The book of Luke 8:1-3 states that certain women and many others supported Jesus out of their own means, Jesus never collected tithe or offering from anyone during his ministry.
“Even when he sent his disciples to preach he gave them instructions as to where they were going to survive. Luke 10:1-11 in particular shows that the disciples were supposed to receive whatever they would be given freely by the people and not to intimidate them with the name of their master. They did not use the name or the anointing of Jesus Christ to collect tithes, offerings or seeds because they were labourers of Jesus Christ not Moses.
“The yesteryear apostles of Christ survived by a certain manner of giving which was abandoned by the current crop of false apostles, pastors and prophets.