Televangelist Paula White is asking her followers to donate as much as their entire salary for the month of January as "first fruits" offering so that they would enjoy "blessings" for the entire year, but she warns that they may suffer "consequences" if they fail to follow God's command.
White, a pastor at New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, explained on her website that the principle of first fruits is found throughout the Bible and said that it "supernaturally unlocks amazing opportunity, blessing, favor and divine order for your life."
"It is the basis or underlying support for your success in 2018. It is GOD'S PRINCIPLE OF FIRST FRUITS. All Firsts belong to God," she wrote.
White, who also serves as a spiritual adviser to President Donald Trump, said that honoring the principle would provide the "foundation and structure for God's blessings and promises in your life."
"When you don't honor it, whether through ignorance or direct disobedience there are consequences," she warned.
She noted that the consequence could come in a form of a "struggle" and claimed that donors could be protected from it by giving a first fruit offering.
White's church had expressed support for the campaign on Tuesday, but some have expressed doubts on whether this was how God intended the principle of first fruits to work.
"The concept of biblical first fruits is real, but as I read your article I can't help but feel as though you're being manipulative. Laying the foundation for first fruits and then launching into a 'financial seed' campaign seems to be a misuse/abuse of the biblical intention," Christian mom Heather Norton wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Some media outlets have noted that White owns a unit at a Trump property in New York and that she has drawn criticism for flaunting her wealth. Some religious leaders have questioned some of her teachings, such as the "prosperity gospel," which holds that God rewards faith and giving to the church with financial blessings and good health. White, however, denied that she is a prosperity preacher and said that she does not see God as a "sugar daddy."
CompellingTruth.org, an outreach effort by a group of trained Christian experts at Got Questions Ministries, noted that some preachers use the principle to encourage parishioners to give an offering above and beyond tithing, which is usually 10 percent of earnings. But the group noted that the Bible does not support it as a requirement for Christians.
The experts contended that giving a first fruits offering is acceptable as long as it comes from the believer's personal conviction and not because the donor was pressured by church leaders.