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Stop Begging for Money and Teach Stewardship

October 1, AD2014

Home for me is a 16 foot travel trailer at a camping “resort” in San Antonio, Texas. One afternoon last week, I was sitting in my lawn chair under the awning, which serves as my living room, when I saw my friend Adam walk by. He was carrying a plastic bag of Hot Pockets and Cokes he’d bought at the drugstore down the street.

Adam (that’s his real name) is in his early twenties, thin as a rail, and lives alone in a one room cabin down the hill from me. The cabin has no running water, so he uses the camp facilities for the restroom and to shower.

He works for minimum wage on an asphalt crew in the 100 degree Texas summer heat. His thick brown hair is sunbleached to a burnt orange color, because he never wears a hat. I see him most every day as he goes to and from his job. He doesn’t have a car, so a company pickup comes to get him and bring him home. He rides in the back of the truck. He always smiles. I’ve never seen him unhappy.

Anyway, as he was walking by, I said hello and so he stopped to chat. We exchanged some small talk about hot the day was. Gesturing to the computer on my lap, he asked what I was working on. I told him I was writing an article about giving to God and what that means for our salvation. He looked at me like he remembered something, but forgot how he knew. What he said next, in his slow Texas accent, was as lucid, theologically accurate summary of Christian giving as I have ever heard.

“You mean tithin’, right?” Adam paused and squinted his eyes. “God owns everything, so when he gives me something, I give him back 10%. If I do, he promises me a blessin’.” Then he shook his head, grinned broadly, and said, “But I don’t give for the blessin’. I give because he wants me to. It’s all his anyway.”

I was reminded of the words of our Lord: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” [Luke 10:21]. The article I was writing is 9,000 words long, but Adam had summarized it in 45 words!

I told him that if everyone understood what he just said, I wouldn’t have to write the article. He laughed and said, “Not everybody gets it.”

Fundraising is not working.

American Catholics apparently do not get it, because they are not giving. Every study of denominational giving in America over the last few decades shows that American Catholics give to charity (including the Church) about half of what members of other denominations do. (See, e.g., Resources for American Christianity, Church Giving Tied To Gratitude And A Sense Of Mission (2009); Julia Duin, Giving in Different Denominations (2001); Generous Giving, Giving among Church Denominations (1993).)

The Catholic Church in America has lapsed into a fundraising mentality. Labor intensive festivals, raffles, lotteries, and chicken dinners are ubiquitous. When those aren’t enough, queued up are the frothy, emotional fundraising pleas from the pulpit.

All of it is backfiring. Instead of inspiring the laity to good works, the calls for more money breed disinterest, resignation, and sometimes even incipient anger.

Preaching about the needs of the Church and the poor does not inspire the laity to give more, because the laity is already convinced. Sincere Christians want to give to support the Church and to help the needy. The laity are enormously grateful for the many acts of mercy the Church provides through the sacraments and the often heroic actions of the clergy and religious. The Holy Spirit speaks in the hearts of the faithful and enkindles love of neighbor, the suffering, and the poor.

The laity, though, are painfully aware of their own limitations. They know that their resources are but a drop in an ocean of need. It’s hard enough to take care of their own families, and they know they can’t solve every problem.

It is time to start teaching stewardship.

It’s time to stop the gimmicky fundraising and start talking about the truth of what the Catholic church teaches about stewardship. Even though they understand the need and want to give, the laity have a nagging feeling that somehow, the Church is off track when it is fundraising. The message from the pulpit often sounds no different than the message from the United Way.

Pope Francis seems to agree: “The Church – I repeat once again – is not a relief organization, an enterprise or an NGO, but a community of people, animated by the Holy Spirit, who have lived and are living the wonder of the encounter with Jesus Christ and want to share this experience of deep joy, the message of salvation that the Lord gave us.” Pope Francis, Message for World Youth Day 2013 at 4, May 19, 2013.

The laity need, and indeed expect, better guidance than they have been given lately. Sugarcoating the subject of money with flowery, feel-good exhortations is condescending to the people who must work by the sweat of their brow [Genesis 3:19] to earn that money. The laity need a straight-up, head-on, theologically-sound discussion of money so that they may make informed, ethically sound decisions.

Stewardship fundamentals are simple.

Fortunately, God has provided that guidance, but candidly, the laity have not heard much about it lately. Even the clergy appear not to know what Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition teach about stewardship. The fundamentals are simple: God’s ownership, our stewardship, and final accountability.

Our covenantal relationship with God compels us to offer our “first fruits” to him in sacrifice and praise. When God covenants with his people, an offering of the “first” acknowledges God’s sovereignty and gives thanks to God from whom all things come.

The first century New Testament church understood that first fruits are part of God’s plan for the sanctification of his Church. The Didache (circa 100 A.D.), commonly known as the “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” is the earliest known liturgical writing of the Church. It prescribes offering first fruits for the support of both the clergy and the poor:

But every true prophet that wills to abide among you is worthy of his support. So also a true teacher is himself worthy, as the workman, of his support. Every first-fruit, therefore, of the products of wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and of sheep, you shall take and give to the prophets, for they are your high priests. But if you have not a prophet, give it to the poor. If you make a batch of dough, take the first-fruit and give according to the commandment. So also when you open a jar of wine or of oil, take the first-fruit and give it to the prophets; and of money (silver) and clothing and every possession, take the first-fruit, as it may seem good to you, and give according to the commandment.

Didache (The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles), Chapter 13.

Irenaeus’ Against Heresies (circa 180 A.D.), written in reply to the Gnostic heresy, carefully laid out the place of the offering of the Eucharist and of the goods presented at the altar:

The oblation of the Church, therefore, which the Lord gave instructions to be offered throughout all the world, is accounted with God a pure sacrifice, and is acceptable to Him; not that He stands in need of a sacrifice from us, but that he who offers is himself glorified in what he does offer, if his gift be accepted. For by the gift both honor and affection are shown forth towards the King; and the Lord, wishing us to offer it in all simplicity and innocence, did express Himself thus: Therefore, when you offer your gift upon the altar, and shall remember that your brother has ought against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then return and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24) We are bound, therefore, to offer to God the first-fruits of His creation, as Moses also says, You shall not appear in the presence of the Lord your God empty; (Deuteronomy 16:16) so that man, being accounted as grateful, by those things in which he has shown his gratitude, may receive that honor which flows from Him.

. . . . He does not stand in need of these [services], yet does desire that we should render them for our own benefit, lest we be unfruitful; so did the Word give to the people that very precept as to the making of oblations, although He stood in no need of them, that they might learn to serve God: thus is it, therefore, also His will that we, too, should offer a gift at the altar, frequently and without intermission.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter 18 (emphasis added)

The Fathers of Vatican II echoed and urged the same understanding of stewardship: “Indeed, it is the duty of the whole People of God, following the word and example of the bishops, to alleviate as far as they are able the sufferings of the modern age. They should do this too, as was the ancient custom in the Church, out of the substance of their goods, and not only out of what is superfluous.Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes 88 (1965) (emphasis added).

The tithe is Catholic doctrine.

Since the time of Abraham, our first fruits offering has been identified with the tithe. “Tithe” means one tenth (10%). To tithe is to give ten percent. (In Spanish, the words diezmo and décimo are clearer.)

A common misconception is that the Catholic church does not teach tithing. Four ecumenical councils (Macon in 585, Third Lateran in 1179, Constance in 1415, and Trent in 1563) of the Catholic Church have dogmatically held, on pain of excommunication, the tithe to be binding on the morals of the faithful. St. Thomas Aquinas firmly supported the tithe in his masterpiece work, Summa Theologica (1270).

The Catholic Church continues to hold that the tithe is the minimum standard for Christian giving. The Archdiocese of St. Louis has on its website an excellent Frequently Asked Questions page about tithing, containing theologically sound, practical advice. It makes very good reading.

Giving is for the good of the soul.

The primary purpose of Christian giving is to save the giver’s soul. Saint Augustine spoke in the fifth century words that could be delivered today:

Let us give a certain portion of it. What portion? A tenth? The Scribes and Pharisees gave tithes for whom Christ had not yet shed His Blood. The Scribes and Pharisees gave tithes; lest haply you should think you are doing any great thing in breaking your bread to the poor; and this is scarcely a thousandth part of your means. And yet I am not finding fault with this; do even this. So hungry and thirsty am I, that I am glad even of these crumbs.

But yet I cannot keep back what He who died for us said while He was alive. Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. He does not deal softly with us; for He is a physician, He cuts to the quick. Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The Scribes and Pharisees gave the tenth. How is it with you? Ask yourselves. Consider what you do, and with what means you do it; how much you give, how much you leave for yourselves; what you spend on mercy, what you reserve for luxury. So then, Let them distribute easily, let them communicate, let them lay up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may hold on eternal life.

Augustine, Sermon 35, at ¶ 5.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Loye Young is a Texas preacher spreading the Catholic faith. Loye became a Roman Catholic in 2005 after growing up Southern Baptist but spending 20 years as an Episcopalian. He received BBA and JD degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. For the last few years, he has been a Linux system engineer and now is working as a freelance website developer. Loye and his fiancé are novices together in the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic (the Order of Preachers). He currently lives in Rochelle, Texas.

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  • Lisa Ann Homic

    Sad to say, but can we trust who we give money to? The CCHD has left most of us angry. I bet the giving now is more in secret and we give to those in our local vicinity. Maybe we cut off the middle man and donate ourselves where we know the money is going.

  • Ginger West

    So grateful for my holy parents (Daddy born in 1918, Mother in 1915) who MODELED as well as “preached” the importance of – and happiness in giving. Great article – hope it reaches those who “need” it. I try…..

  • Pingback: Infant Baptism - BigPulpit.com()

  • Some of the comments to this article demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the place of our offerings in the economy of salvation.

    It simply does not matter what happens to our offerings; we are still compelled to present the tithe at the altar as an offering to God. Even if the money is entirely wasted, we owe the tithe as our offering of first fruits. Again, the primary purpose of giving is to save the giver’s soul. If you are unwilling to obey the Lord’s command, you are not saved, because you worship money and yourself as an idol and not God.

    In essence, we should think of the tithe as a burnt offering. A burnt offering is completely destroyed after it is offered. The purpose of the burnt offering, like the tithe, is to break our own idolatry and to acknowledge the sovereignty of Christ as King of the Creation.

    The idea that one can withhold the tithe on the basis of how the “institution” handles the money is a heresy, and grounds for excommunication. Lest you think that I am making this up, I call to your attention the dogmatic statement of the Council of Constance, Session 15 (July 6, 1415):

    This holy synod, therefore, in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, repudiates and condemns, by this perpetual decree, the [following] articles and each one of them in particular; and it forbids each and every Catholic henceforth, under pain of anathema, to preach, teach, or hold the said articles or any one of them. The said holy synod orders local ordinaries and inquisitors of heresy to be vigilant in carrying out these things and duly observing them, insofar as each one is responsible, in accordance with the law and canonical sanctions. Let anyone who rashly violates the aforesaid decrees and sentences of this sacred council be punished, after due warning, by the local ordinaries on the authority of this sacred council, notwithstanding any privilege.

    [The following are the condemned heresies:]

    38. It is sufficient for the laity that at some times they give tithes of their produce to God’s servants. In this way they are always giving to the church, even if not always to the caesarean clergy deputed by the pope or by his dependents.

    41. The people may withhold tithes, offerings and other private alms from unworthy disciples of Christ, since God’s law requires this. . . .

    Council of Constance, Session 15, 6 July 1415

    For a more complete and lengthy discussion of the relationship of our first fruits offering and God’s covenants, see my article First Fruits, Sacrifice, and Covenant.

  • I believe that we have a moral and ethical obligation to feed the hungry, to house the homeless, to clothe those in need, to visit the imprisoned, the widowed, the elderly, the disabled, the institutionalized…Christ came for the poor, his gospel is the good news for the poor; he did not come for righteous. I give to very extent possible to the above groups because it was the original intent of giving for many thousands of years. For example, Jews were taught not to harvest the corners of their fields, but leave them for the poor. Jesus was a Jew and he knew the Hebrew message well.
    I, however, find the support of clericalism morally repugnant. Nearly 3 billion dollars on clergy sex abuse settlements in the U.S (exclusive of the non transparent settlements of religious orders) and a similar amount additionally in all other countries, and the total adds. Monstrous irregularities in the Vatican Institute for Religious Works (Vatican Bank). Vast real estate ownership, mansions for bishops, cardinals and archbishops, works of art, ancient texts in the Vatican Library, gold, lace, etc etc.
    Nothing to support clericalism,,,give everything directly to the people of the gospel message…the poor; never saw a poor cleric!

    • Catholic pilgrim

      You’ve never seen a “poor cleric”? Maybe because you yourself live in a relatively wealthy suburban American area. Having been to many inner city parishes (where the real poor & homeless are) in America & many mission parishes in countries outside America, let me tell you that there are COUNTLESS of Poor Clerics. If you ever left your little corner of America & got out more often, you’d see plenty. Also, Pope Francis has been working hard to reform the Vatican Bank. What are you doing about it (besides your massively epic whining)? As for the “ancient documents”, real estate, & works of art, they were mostly acquired in historical time period when their worth was relatively low (as they were not considered “priceless” yet). And besides, these beautiful masterpieces of our Catholic Christian faith, they’re for the poor. Have you ever been to the Vatican Museum? The Sistine Chapel? St. Peter’s Basilica? St. Mark’s Cathedral? Notre Dame (Paris)? St. Patrick’s (NYC)? They are ALL open to the public, to the poor. Unlike private wealth & private artwork collections, they’re not kept at some rich man’s house where only his rich family & rich friends can admire them. Church artwork & buildings are open to ALL & in many cases especially to the Poor, hard-working classes. Phil Dzialo, my friend who is always whiny (but never actually attempts to change things for the better), please get out of your computer once in a while. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered.

    • @Catholic Pilgrim…you leave me amazed in that you address none of my institutional criticisms, you level pithy “ad hominem” attacks and clothe self in a garment of anonymity. So let me take your statements one at a time:
      1. I whine, never attempt to change things and should get off my computer once in awhile. Well, friend, I take care 24/7 of my totally disabled son who is 28 and suffered a near drowning at age 12 (25 minutes under water at a camp. He is non-verbal, can’y move muscle, spastic and contracted. I change adult diapers, suction his trachea innumerable times a day, reposition him every few hours around the clock, work with therapists, make blenderized feeds and change more diapers and keep him cleaned and cared for. I have not had a vacation day for 16 years…not one. I am not whining, I embrace the gift given me. In between diaper changes, I play on the computer and challenge institutions which need much challenge. I have no wealth, do not live in a rich suburb, but have a house filled with every medical device known to man.
      2. I am so glad that the RCC allows a homeless, shoeless, starving man to view the artwork of a Sistine Chapel…I know Jesus would rather have the man given a loaf or bread and a fish. When one has nothing to eat, Victorian art and Notre-Dame is hardly nourishing.
      3. I have worked for five years in my younger days in the school serving the worst and most dangerous housing project in Boston…ironically named the Cathedral Projects. I know poverty .
      4. I have never seen a homeless cleric, a starving cleric, a cleric without decent clothing, without a useable car, without a vacation or medical care, etc. Again, I have never seen a cleric in poverty.
      5. Given the fact that I was a member of a religious RCC order for 8 years, I can attest to the truth of each statement I make….and I took a vow of poverty….and was never poor.
      6. I walk my talk at 67 years of age; I confront injustice and inequity, I applaud the message of Christ for the poor for whom he came to Earth. I do not whine, I confront and question. I love my life of being a full time care giver and I am never, ever hidden beneath the clock of anonymity…I do not judge people whom I do not know and use “ad hominen” argementation.
      7. Et tu…..?

    • Catholic pilgrim

      Phil, Firstly, I applaud you for taking care of your son. Secondly, it’s you who is always using Ad hominem attacks against the Catholic Church & Catholics. Double standard? Thirdly, it sounds like you’re an angry, bitter Ex-Catholic in need of serious healing (or just some time off from being obsessed with attacking all things Catholic). Also, you too do NOT know the stories of everyone else; you are not the only one who has it rough, mister. Some of us just don’t brag about it. In embracing our pains & suffering & offering them up to God in perfect anonymity, He will be our reward (not praises of men). Fourthly, in the genius of Catholicism, we embrace BOTH feeding the poor (who feeds the poor & homeless more than Catholics have done for the past 2,000 years?) AND give them spiritual nourishing (like in beautiful cathedrals open to all & uplifting artwork/music, etc.). In today’s Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (one of the biggest heroes of Catholicism), you would do well to remember this. Catholics do BOTH (feeding physically & spiritually); it’s you who suggest exclusively doing either one or the other, in a schizophrenic-like attitude. Please read in St. John’s Gospel 12:2-4, our Lord Christ Jesus’s rebuke against Judas (whom out of false, self-interested concerns for the poor opposed Mary for pouring expensive oils & perfumes on Jesus’s FEET). Lastly, I agree with the expensive child abuse mess which was caused *mostly* by Liberal/dissident, homosexual clergy (& covered up by weak liberal bishops). If the ugly, liberal “spirit of Vatican II” clergy/bishops of the 1950’s & the tumultuous 1960s & ’70s had not prevailed, the Church would have been spared from billions of litigation money but most importantly the purity, safety, & innocence of children would have been preserved. We need orthodoxy, orthopraxy, & charity for all ages in order to combat the evils & social ills of today. We don’t need more of the same dangerous heterodoxy & modernist/consumerist crap we’ve been fed. The Second Vatican Council documents are actually profound & challenging. The “spirit of Vatican 2” liberal clergy ignored them & went on their own ugly campaigns to impose their liberal agendas (which included liberalized sex for everyone, including priests) down everyone’s throats (now we’re seeing the fruits of their disgusting work, unfortunately).

    • First, I need no recognition for taking care of my son, it was a statement that I asserted to say that I needed not the influence of no higher power to do the right thing. Second, an “ad hominem” argument is a philosophical argument where you attack the character of an individual person. I never attack individuals. I do confront institutions, and beliefs which are unfounded in human decency and scripture. I have also posted on blogs of other religions, so I don’t single out Catholics. I have equal issues with the two sisters of the main Abrahamic religion, Christianity and Islam. I am an ex-Catholic but not bitter, took to many years of therapy to put the anger to rest. It is very easy to dismiss my arguments if you choose to label me “bitter.” I won’t go into liberal and traditionalist post Vat II clergy, nor will I denigrate liberal clergy (thankfully with Francis and Muller we are seeing a resurgence of liberation theology)..we simply need mercy for all, if you want orthodoxy visit the most holy family monastery and its sedevacantists as you will see their criticisms of the post Vat 2 church similar to yours. PS I always appreciate commentators who use their real identity.

    • Catholic pilgrim

      First, why the heck did you feel the need to “assert” that you do good things without higher powers or whatever? (Is this blog post even about you?) Secondly, I’ve seen your name around on Catholic Stand, & I can attest that you do indeed use Ad hominem (quite frequently, actually) & you have indeed not left the anger stage either; denial does not an acquittal make. Denial of truth is a disservice to everybody, mind you. Thirdly, why are you “labeling” me as a sedevacantist? Are you trying to label me in order to reject my sound arguments? (Double standard?) I’m in absolutely no way (nor will I ever be) a sedevacantist. I wholeheartedly believe in the Apostolic authority of the current Patriarch of Rome (aka pope) as well as all other previous Patriarchs of Rome. Phil, I would take a bullet & die for Pope Francis if anybody ever tried to touch him, I love the man & he is my pope also. Orthodoxy, Orthopraxy, & Caritas/Mercy is a three-legged stool of the Catholic faith that is totally compatible & in union; Catholicism does not work like your schizophrenic-like exclusive attitudes of either/or. In both orthodoxy & acts of mercy, there is true Agape & mercy for this weary, tired world. Also, why would you oppose the sex abuse crisis and then go on supporting the same liberal/dissident, heterodox theologians & clergy who caused the crisis to begin with? That makes no sense.
      PS- If you desperately need my identity, shoot me an email. Otherwise, I don’t publish my identity because I respect my privacy. Do you have a problem with it? I don’t need spam e-mails nor identity theft, I don’t want people selling my private information to companies or crap, I don’t need governments storing any more of my private information than they already have. I don’t have a Facebook or a Twitter for the same reason- we live in a world full of chaos in the internet/information age (from privacy issues to surveillance, identity theft, scams, etc.), & I don’t want a part in it, thank you very much. Besides many other peaceful Internet users are anonymous, should we encroach on their privacy or respect them? (Don’t mean to sound snarky, but I’ve encountered these problems before.)

    • Oh boy……you leave me speechless

  • Based on what has happened since 2008, the Scripture has been rewritten: Render to Obama and the Democrats the things that are Obama’s and the Democrats’ and render to the Democrats and Obama the things that are God’s. Including the lives of babies and especially the lives of minority babies dead via RETA. No one owes a debt to govt to pay immoral or illegitimate taxes. When power people – Obama and Democrats – enforce their own view of immorality via legislation and executive orders, there is no civic or moral duty to comply; on the contrary, we have a duty to oppose them and rid ourselves of them a la George III and that bunch of aristocrats. Also, many Catholics now refuse to give money that shows up in the official church figures because they do not want even 1/10 of the money -the diocese assessment of parish moines-they have given to a parish to go to bishops who have paid out over $2 billion of the faithful’s money to pay off claims based on the bishops own malfesance and crimes.

  • james

    You forget that the taxes we pay as Americans go for the good of everyone and esp the world. They
    count.

    • I did not forget taxes, because taxes do NOT count against the tithe. God is our King, so our first fruits go to God and God alone. “Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar, and render unto God what is God’s.” The ancient Romans paid taxes, and so did the Jews at the time of Christ, but Christ himself approved the tithe, separate from taxes, and so did the early Church. Further, Catholic doctrine as stated by the ecumenical councils specifically requires that tithes may not be redirected to anyone other than the church.

      Almost every other Christian denomination gives to charity two times what Catholics do, and they pay their taxes like we do.

    • james

      ” God is our King, so our first fruits go to God and God alone. ”

      I’m not sure they go to God. Rome has had a few financial scandals involving real estate speculation and other inauspicious dealings and Peter’s pense did not stem the red ink of the Vatican. Ancient taxes did not necessarily go to the good of all, they went to enrich their leaders. In the OT the priests and Levites ate the first frruits, got fat and happy on others labor. I still contend that our taxes of appr %20 are used for noble causes that help everyone in need.

    • Catholic pilgrim

      james, Pope Francis is working hard on reforming the Vatican’s financial order. We as faithful Catholics must still tithe our money to the Church without fail. Tithe & trust in God (let Him take care of the money, quit worrying so much, we already have enough to worry about). There is massive corruption (& inequality issues) in the Governments’ taxation systems (from USA to other countries) & I don’t see you complaining about those, Mr. james? Also, some of our Tax money even goes to fund horrible, inhumane things (like Vietnam War or unjust “preemptive” Wars in Iraq, which the Church opposed). In fact, earlier, you were singing praises to Government Taxation systems, were you not? Double standards, much? Hypocrisy?Peace of Christ (which the world cannot give) be with you.

    • Catholic pilgrim

      Seriously, back in 2003, how was our Tax money which was used to bomb & kill innocent Iraqi people (“Collateral damage”) noble? Or back in the Vietnam War? Or when Tax Money is used to create more Nuclear weapons (which were even used in Japan) “noble”? There are still people alive who remember how “nobly” the Government used our Taxes to support segregation. Or to fund abortions (baby killings).

    • jacobhalo

      Our taxes are still being used to bomb and kill. The USA is a war mongering country.

    • Catholic pilgrim

      I agree with you, Loye Young. But there is also a deeper (more demanding) meaning to “render unto God, render unto Caesar” Gospel principle. Why did our Lord say “Caesar” specifically & not Roman government system? In Mark 12:15-17, Jesus asked for a Denarius coin to be brought to Him. He saw Caesar’s image (face) in the coin (at this time it was against the Mosaic Law for ANY Jew to have graven images of a man, as an anti-Idolatry measure). It’s Caesar’s Image on the coin, therefore, it belongs to Caesar. “Render unto God”. According to Catholicism & Genesis, we were made on whose Image? God’s Image. If God’s Image is imprinted on Human Beings, then we must render not only coins but our very own selves to God. Render unto to God what is God’s. So, Mark 12:15-17 was definitely NOT referring to “separation of Church & State” (like some liberals have interpreted) because such idea was not invented until the European Enlightenment modern period. To the Jews of Jesus’s time, it would have been completely foreign (Jews back then had strong theocracies, where Temple & state where one). Maybe it was quite possibly referring Christian tithing to a lesser a degree, but it goes deeper than that: we who bear God’s Image must render ourselves to Him who is our good King TOTALLY. Loye Young, I got this from NT Wright’s (Anglican clergyman, not “bishop”, no offense to him) “How God Became King”. I hope I added something to the discussion.

  • Guy McClung

    Some tough words. Some pointed – and correctly ponited. Well said. Needed to be said. Thanks. Guy McClung, San Antonio