I first encountered "The Treasure Principle" about ten years ago, a few years after returning from 14 years as a missionary overseas. I was underemployed and barely able to survive financially, and was unquestionably unable to live without 10% of my income. The first four chapters said some good things, but chapter 5 hit me like a 2x4 in the face. Was I really robbing my heavenly father, as Alcorn claimed? Was I robbing the holy, almighty God?
I almost immediately saw a few specific things that didn't seem right; for example, he applies Malachi 3:8-10 directly to Christians, including "You are under a curse", but Galatians 3:13 says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us". Alcorn also ignores other types of tithing in the Old Testament, such as in Dt. 12 (especially note verse 17) and 14:22f, where it says the Israelites should set aside a tenth of all their fields produce each year and have a feast with it, while not neglecting the Levites.
Alcorn says on page 62 that "Jesus validated the mandatory tithe but in context, Jesus was talking to a Pharisee, not one of his followers. Some slaveholders used a similar argument to say that Paul validated slavery when he sent Onesimus back to Philemon or when he said, "Slaves, obey your masters" (Eph. 6:5, Col. 3:22). (At least Paul was talking to Christians!)
Alcorn says on page 65 that not giving 10% of your income is "like saying, 'I used to rob six convenience stores a year. This year, by His grace, I'm going to rob only three.'" Alcorn gives no mercy and no grace to those who cannot give according to the portion of the Law quoted in Malachi.
As time has gone on and I've read and re-read Romans and Galatians, I have seen more and more clearly that if we are in Christ then we have died to the Law, and that by putting us under the Law, Randy Alcorn is doing no differently than those who Paul talked about who were trying to put Christians under the Law of circumcision -- and with less foundation, looking at how absolute God's covenant of circumcision is with Abraham in Gen. 17:9-14.
Alcorn says that Jesus supposedly "raised the spiritual bar" (p. 63) -- but did He say we should more strictly obey the Sabbath (one of the Ten Commandments), or dietary laws? No, what Jesus did was to change the paradigm from works of the Law to our heart attitude, and our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
As God's adopted son, I am not under the Law (cf. Mt. 17:25-27), but I am a co-heir with Christ (Rm. 8:17, et al). Because I am in Christ, I have died to the Law (Romans and Galatians, et al). This cannot be emphasized strongly enough, because it is integral to the Gospel. Alcorn makes it clear, contrary to Scripture, that he thinks tithing is mandatory. In doing so he puts us back under the entire Law (Gal. 5:3, James 2:10), condemns us all and implicitly denies the Gospel.
Alcorn also dances with a type of "Prosperity Gospel", which for the sake of space I will not discuss further.
I would not recommend this book except with strong disclaimers, or as an example of legalism and bad hermeneutics.
Great book on storing up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. Everyone especially with a job or kids should read this book. Reenforced my belief-the more money you make the more people you can help.
The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn is the first book I have read on the Bible's view of money. I was quit eager to read it to see if how I use the financial resources God has entrusted me with is aligned with Scripture. I wasn't disappointed. This book is encouraging and convicting, showing the immeasurable joy that comes when one gives of their money as God wants them to. I enjoyed this book thoroughly.
Katrina and I have discussed and prayed over our finances especially our giving and feel like we are dispersing them as God desires. This book affirmed our decisions, showed other areas we can improve in and the many blessings that come from giving.
What you won't find in this book is a how-to on gaining wealth. Alcorn doesn't tell you how to play the stock market, which as we have seen is very volatile. He doesn't tell you how much of your check to put into savings each week or the exact percentage you are to give to God each month (He does address tithing but from the standpoint that tithing is the least amount you should be giving). The point of the book is how we are to gain treasure in heaven. This is based on Christ's teaching found in Matthew 6:19-21:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In six short chapters, 120 pages, Alcorn will change your view of giving. He begins by calling us God's money managers meaning God has entrusted us with His money. All that we have in the bank is God's, not just what we give to the church. And since the money is God's we give Him what He asks us to give and who to give it to. That is a special responsibility God has given each of us, taking care of His money. What we do with it carries blessing or judgment. I am for the blessing.
Some points that Alcorn makes are quite convicting. He shows us that if we don't give to the needs of the poor then God won't hear our prayers (Proverbs 21:13). In his discussion on tithing he does maybe the best job I have read or heard on the issue by stating that tithing is the floor, not the ceiling, on our giving. He makes the point that in the New Testament God doesn't lower the standards found it the Old Testament but raises them, including tithing. This book has changed my view of tithing (in case you are wondering Katrina and I give more than 10%).
Some of you may be put off by me stating how much me and Katrina give each month. Alcorn points out that in I Chronicles 29:6-9 King David tells us exactly how much he gave to the building of the temple. If it is wrong for us to tell what we give then David sinned by telling us how much he gave (Alcorn goes into greater detail on this in chapter six).
I could go on. This short book covers many other topics concerning giving that you will need to read to discover. All of them are founded in Scripture. If you have been wanting some teaching on Biblical giving, this is the book for you.
The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn is a small book that can have a big impact in your life. This is a book that I have had for a little while, and now that I've read it, I wish I had picked it up sooner. I found this book to be challenging to my current giving levels, and I trust that you will too.
Randy Alcorn shares 6 principles about giving and backs them up with numerous Bible passages. He helps to put into perspective that all the "stuff" that we accumulate on earth is worthless in the long run and should not be such a high priority in the lives of those who put their faith in the God of the Bible. Our priority should be reaching out to those without Christ through generous giving and serving. The author states:
"Giving doesn't strip me of vested interests; rather, it shifts my vested interests from earth to heaven - from self to God."
Then he goes on to say:
"I'm not saying that it's easy to give. I'm saying - and there are thousands who will agree - that it's much easier to live on 90 percent or 50 percent or 10 percent of your income inside the will of God than it is to live on 100 percent outside it."
The author has several different ways to shift the mindset of the reader in order to challenge our perspectives. After reviewing the 6 principles amid Bible references and historical quotes, the book concludes with a "giving covenant" and 31 questions to ask God about our giving.
If you are open to hear God's calling for change in your attitude about giving, I recommend that you read this book. In the very least, it will make you think about your giving level, and how you can survive on less so you can give more. You can read an excerpt of the book or just order one for yourself.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.