Tithing: Test Me In This by Douglas Leblanc is part of the “Ancient Practices Series” of books. Other books in the series include – Sabbath, Fasting, Pilgrimage, Prayer, The Sacred Meal, and the Liturgical year.
Malachi 3:10 has been the subject of much debate throughout history and among many religious traditions. In the introduction to Tithing, Phyllis Tickle, General Editor of the “Ancient Practices Series”, writes that rather than a theological or historical treatise on tithing, Doug Leblanc has “…chosen to discover men and women who…tithe and are willing to say…why they do so.”
As I started this book, I looked forward to inspiring stories of how God has used tithing to bring people closer to Himself. What I found mostly was, in fact, largely biographical information on the persons featured in the book, with varying degrees of reference to tithing and it’s impact in their spiritual lives. While some of the stories were inspiring, some were hardly recognizable as being on the topic at all. A large proportion of the book is the account of Christians from the “social justice” perspective, some bordering on liberation theology. As a conservative Christian, I was pleased to see a chapter on Randy Alcorn and his views, although even that chapter felt like it was more about sacrificing for a principle (pro-life) than tithing.
Overall, I was disappointed in the book. Tithing is a joyous gift from God allowing us to participate in showing His love to a hurting world. I had hoped that Tithing would be more of an encouragement to non-tithers, enticing them to “…test [God] in this…” (Malachi 3:10). Instead the book felt like a series of biographical stories of
community organizers and how their ministries were changed by an attitude of giving. I can’t help but feel that the average person would be more inspired by stories of individuals or families and the impact that tithing had on their lives.