Friday, July 31, 2009

Reply to Sean McEwen

Sean McEwen: Hey Russell, someone just pointed me to your article on the Tithing Myth. I'm curious, how does your church survive?

Russ: My church survives the same way the first church survived for almost 300 years before Constantine --by freewill sacrificial offerings. My church survives like every non-state Protestant church survived in the USA survived before the 1890s --by freewill sacrificial offerings. My church survives like every major church historian writes about the first centuries' church --by freewill sacrificial offerings.

Sean: And if we simply say that Malachi wasn't written to us, isn't it fair to say that pretty much NONE of the Bible was written "to" us but rather "for" us. It was written to those people during their respective time periods.

Russ: Do you kill disobedient children and Sabbath-breakers like the Law required. Do you not wear shirts of two different fabrics and avoid ham like the Law required? None of the Old Covenant was given to or addressed to the Church --including tithing. The tithing ordinance is found in Numbers 18. Stop and read it. It required those who received Levitical tithes to forfeit property ownership and to kill anybody who dared to worship God as a believer-priest.

Sean: Also, it seems to me that the idea of 10% was established and existent long before the Law was given.

Russ: These are all covered in great detail in my book and on my web site. The tithe originated in pagan lands alongside idol worship, child sacrifices and temple prostitution. Merely being very old and very common does not make something eternal or moral. Nothing Abraham did concerning tithing is practiced today: (1) only pagan spoils of war, (2) only once, (3) not from his own property, (4) he kept nothing and (5) gave the 90% to the king of Sodom. His tithe does not qualify as a holy tithe under the Law.

Sean: And didn't Jesus himself commend the idea of Tithing (one of the few times He commended the Pharisees for anything) as He came not to abolish the Law but fulfill it?

Russ: According to Galatians 4:4 Jesus was born under the Law in order to redeem those Hebrews who were under the Law. In Matthew 23:23 he commanded the scribes and Pharisees to obey their own additions to the law as "matters of the law." He could not and did not command Gentiles to tithe because it was illegal. When Jesus totally fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law, he set it aside and replaced it with Himself as God's standard of righteousness per Romans 3:21; John 16:8-9; 2 Cor 3:18 and Heb 7:12-18.

Sean: Just a few observations as I read through it.

Russ: I am not sure what you read. My essay is titled Tithing is Not a Christian Doctrine and my book-web site is titled Should the Church Church Teach Tithing? Unlike tithe-teachers I am always eager and ready to answer questions.

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
Yahoo Group Tithing-Study

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reply to Your Financial Coach

Reply to Your Financial Coach

Reigniting Giving, Your Financial Coach (edited)

Russ: NT Spirit-blessed giving principles are: freewill, generous, sacrificial, joyful, not by commandment and motivated by love for God and lost souls. That means more than 10% for many and less for others.

Coach: If you are a Christian, as I am, we are called to give away at least 10 percent of our income as a tithe and anything above that is considered an additional offering.

Russ: False. Tithing was never commanded to the Church after Calvary. Tithing was commanded in the Law to support the Levitical priesthood and temple system which have both been annulled per Heb 7:12, 18.Coach: I have been surprised at class member's views towards tithing …

Russ: The Bible's view is that biblical tithes were always only food from inside Israel which had been miraculously increased by God. Although money was common even in Genesis and essential for sanctuary worship, money is never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe for over 1500 years from Leviticus to Luke. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did the poor nor those who lived outside Israel.

Coach: I won't get into the Biblical meaning of "tithe" ….

Russ: Of course not because it must not be defined the way you use the word.

Coach: … or why we are called to do it other than to say this: Christian tradition has a tithe at 10 percent …

Russ: (1) It was not found in the tradition of the first century Church of the Bible. (2) It did not attempt to become a law until the 6th century. (3) It did not become an enforced law until the 8th century. (4) Non-state denominations in the USA did not attempt to teach it until after the 1870s. Read major encyclopedias and histories of the Christian Church from your own denomination.

Coach: … and we are called to give it back to the Church because that is what the Lord told the Israelites to do as a way to honor Him.

Russ: Whoa horsie! The Lord told Israel to give it to the Levite servants to the priests (Num 18:21-24) who gave one per cent to the priests (Num 18:25-28). Both the priesthood and temple are now within believers. There were no church buildings for over 200 years after Calvary. To make matters worse from the tithing statute of Numbers 18:21-29, (1) only priests could enter the sanctuary, (2) priests could not own property and (3) priests were to kill anybody who dared to worship God directly.Coach: If you don't place tithing as a priority, it WON'T happen!

Russ: Money motive is a poor reason to teach false doctrine. There are tens of thousands in ghettos who have been faithfully tithing and playing the lottery for generations who have not received the blessings promised.

Coach: Furthermore, tithing isn't supposed to be easy.

Russ: Why not? What happened to the overflowing blessings? Your admission that tithing is not supposed to be easy proves that it does not work in the New Covenant.

Coach: It is supposed to be sacrificial giving, which is why the Lord commanded the Israelites to give the best of the first harvest gatherings and not the leftovers that wouldn't be missed.

Russ: No Bible calls firstfruits the same as tithes. Read Deu 26:1-4 and Neh 10:35-38. According to 1st Timothy 5:8 a Christians first should buy essential medicine, food and shelter. Galatians 3:1-13 is what your class should study. You have added law back into grace and Paul calls such voodoo theology.

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reply to Bethel Baptist

Reply to Bethel Baptist Church (greatly edited)

Bethel Baptist Church,

Russ: When you discuss tithing you turn into a total contradiction of yourself and God's grace.

Bethel: EVERYTHING belongs to him.

Russ: While this was true even in the Old Covenant, it was never used as a reason to accept tithes from outside Israel. Biblical tithes were always only food miraculously increased only by God only from His holy land. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did the poor nor those who lived outside Israel.

Bethel: Exodus 25:1-2, 35 was emphatically voluntary. 2 Cor 9:7-8 tell us that our giving must be voluntary.

Russ: Yes, yes, yes. But it is dishonest to ease into teaching tithing by first emphasizing freewill giving which is totally different. This is taking something out of one hand and passing it behind the back to the other hand.

Bethel: Luke 21:1-4 The widow's mite.

Russ: The widow's gift was money, therefore it was not a tithe (from food). It was a freewill and sacrificial offering. It is a good example for New Covenant generous giving.

Bethel: OT tithe was used in a number of ways – to support the ministry to God (worship) …

Russ: According to Numbers 18:21-24 the first whole Levitical tithe went to the Levite servants to the priests who worked as carpenters, sculptors, metal workers, janitors, guards, bakers and even politicians under David and Solomon. Also Num 3 and 2 Chron 23 to 26. According to Num `18:25-29 and Neh 10:37-39 the Levites only gave a tenth of their tenth to the priests. No church teaches this today.

Bethel: … the ministry to God’s people (nurturing) …

Russ: A second tithe was eaten in the streets of Jerusalem during the three annual feasts. No church teaches this today either.

Bethel: … and ministry to world (gospel and social care).

Russ: A third third-year tithe was kept in the towns and given to the poor which included the Levites and strangers. This is not taught in churches either. Tithes were never used to send out missionaries to the Gentiles.

Bethel: We don’t limit ourselves to a mere tenth (we want to give ALL to our Lord and King) but principle of tithe use is helpful.

Russ: WRONG. The tithe never was a principle-standard-expectation-beginning-training wheel in the Old Covenant excect for food producers who lived inside Israel. It is wrong to build on a false assumption that everybody was required to begin their level of giving at ten per cent.

Bethel: Money should be used by church to support the worship of God, to maintain the ministry of the word, to take the gospel to the world and for caring for others.

Russ: Money --yes. Tithes --no, because 16 of 16 biblical texts which describe the contents of the tithe call it only food even though money was required for sanctuary worship. This is a fundamental error.

Bethel: Final question is a challenge to us all to provoke us to think through this issue, to test our hearts, to hear God’s word and to act on it.

Russ: If you actually did this you would immediately stop using the word "tithe" as a New Covenant imperative. You would start using better Holy Spirit- blessed New Covenant giving principles based on 2 Cor 8 and 9. Equality sacrificial giving means more for some and less for others.

Bethel: You are to give willingly, joyfully, sacrificially, diligently and then the church is to use that money to glorify God.

Russ: Amen, amen, amen. I always point out that New Covenant giving is: freewill, generous, sacrificial, joyful, not by commandment (or percentage) and motivated by love for God and lost souls.

Bethel: Read these verses as a final word of challenge Malachi 3:6-12 and pray that God might have the glory as we honour him with our giving.

Russ: NO, NO, NO. Malachi and the Law was only commanded for the Levitical priesthood. Tithing was never commanded to the Church. The whole law was a test, not merely tithing. Obey ALL be blessed; break ONE to be cursed.

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Reply to Dr Paul Chappell

Reply to Dr Paul Chappell (edited)

Dr Chappell

The issue is not over the word "giving" but rather of the word "tithing." The biblical tithe was always only food miraculously increased only by God only from inside His holy land of Israel. Although money was common even in Genesis and even essential for sanctuary worship, money was never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did the poor nor those who lived outside of Israel. And there is not a theologian in the world who can refute this from God's Word.

God's economic system for Old Covenant Israel is not the same for the New Covenant Church. God commanded Israel NOT to share its covenant with the Gentiles and no tithes were ever used to send out missionaries to them.

Your use of Malachi 3:8-10 as a proof text is out of New Covenant context. The whole law was a test, not merely tithing. Obey ALL to be blessed; break ONE to be cursed. Malachi's audience had called the curse of the law upon themselves in Neh 10:29. It is clear that Galatians 3:10-13 replaces Malachi 3:10-12 even for Hebrews who were under the law.

Chappell: it is my conviction that a Christian would not give less under grace than the Old Testament saint did under the law.

Kelly: We agree that the New Covenant has higher principles than the Old but you argue from a false assumption that everybody in the Old Covenant was required to begin their level of giving at ten per cent. That, sir, is wrong. Only food producers who lived inside Israel met those minimum beginning criteria. Because of the double-portion to the firstborn law, most were driven off the land as owners within four generations and worked as day-laborers for their relatives or moved to the cities and took up trades.

Chappell: Because God has prescribed a base proportion of ten percent, tithing is not truly giving; it is bringing God what already belongs to Him. Biblical giving begins when one gives above the tithe.

Kelly: For most in the OT biblical giving meant freewill, generous, sacrificial offerings like in the New Covenant. It was freewill giving that built the sanctuary and Temple. You also equate tithing with firstfruits when they are never the same thing per Deu 26:1-4 and Neh 10:35-38. In 1st Timothy 5:8 Paul said that the first should go to meet the essential needs of the family such as medicine, food and shelter.

Chappell: Yet God desires that we would not give out of obedience only, but also from hearts of love. When we thus give, we find the joy of living on God’s economy.

Kelly: OT Levitical tithing of the first tithe was cold hard law and was required whether or not one was joyful. If you like tithing so much, then why not follow all of the tithing statute of Numbers 18? (1) the first whole tithe goes to the servants of the priests, (2) the priests only get one per cent, (3) the priests are the only ones allowed into the sanctuary, (4) the priests are to kill anybody who dares to worship God directly and (5) the Levites and priests are not allowed to own or inherit property. Obey the whole law or be cursed.

NT giving is primarily sacrificial. That means more than 10% for many and less for others.

Russell Earl Kelly. PHD

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2nd Reply to Pastor Mike Thompson

2nd Reply to Pastor Mike ThompsonI. Tithing and the LevitesMike: The Levites were assigned to the service of the Lord at all times.

Russ: This is not taught in the Bible. The Bible merely says that, in exchange for their service as servants in the tabernacle, they would not be allowed to own or inherit property. It does not say that they did not have other occupations.

Mike: … so they did not occupy a particular territory in the Promised land like the rest of the tribes. Instead they were scattered out among all the other tribes.

Russ: According to Numbers 35, Joshua 20 and 21 and numerous other texts, they lived in loaned land in 48 cities. They lived in the first area of land which surrounded those cities. After the exile the land contained 13 cites but some cities may have been added.

Mike: Their sole purpose was for service. So they did not work in the fields, or hunt, or do anything outside of that service.

Russ: This is mythology and assumption. Numbers 35 and Joshua 20 and 21 make it clear that they farmed and herded (tithed) animals. (Somebody had to feed them.) Also, from 1 Chronicles 23 to 26 it is clear that they had learned and practiced many trades in order to use them in building and maintaining the Temple. Church historians point out that the Levites, priests and even high priests were found in almost all professions. In fact, they only ministered in the Temple one week out of twenty four, or two weeks per year. For much more on the Levitical cities and 24 courses see my chapter on Nehemiah.

Mike: As a result, the other eleven tribes supported them and provided for them by bringing them a tithe of the produce of the land.

Russ: Do not forget that the Levites were only servants to the priests. They performed all of the dirty and manual work such as woodworkers, metal workers, sculptors, bakers, animal skinners, janitors, guards, treasurers and (during David and Solomon's time) became rulers, judges and politicians. This is found in Numbers 3 and 18 and 1 Chronicles 23 to 26. The Levites, not the priests, received the first whole Levitical tithe and gave the priests one tenth of their portion per Numbers 18:21-28 and Neh 10:37-38.

Mike: I took most of this information from this site.

Russ: It is terribly wrong.

Mike: So the tithe to the Levites was a commandment from God (Numbers 18:8-32).

Russ: And today the Levites have been replaced by UNPAID ushers, deacons, choir, musicians, home bakers and treasurers and PAID politicians. No church follows this pattern.

II. Tithing and Abraham (Abram)Mike: I also referenced Abram's tithe to King Melchizedek in Genesis 14. I stated that the tithe was given to the King from the spoils of war …

Russ: Why? Very old and very common pagan and Canaanite tradition required that a tithe from spoils of war be given to one's local priest-king.

Mike: … and that it was a gesture of respect to the one in authority.

Russ: This is not found in the Bible. Yet it is found in almost every commentary within textual validity.

Mike: Matthew Henry's commentary of the Bible suggests that King Melchizedek was actually Shem or Japhath; meaning he was one of the sons of Moses.

Russ: That does not make it true. According to Genesis 4:26 the worshippers of the true God knew him by the name of Yahweh. Why did Melchizedek not know God by this name?

Mike: In Malachi 3, God scolds those that refuse to give the proper tithes to Him through His priests.

Russ: According to Nehemiah 10:29, Malachi 3:7 and Malachi 4:4, tithing was a small part of whole law. The whole law was a test. Obey ALL to be blessed; break ONE to be cursed. Old Covenant tithing in Malachi was not repeated to the Church after Calvary and (fortunately) neither was the commandment in Numbers 18 that the priests should kill anybody who dared to worship God directly.

III. Tithing and JesusMike: I refer back to another link concerning Jesus and His views on tithing. As taken from the link: "for the Church, the point is this: Jesus implies that responsible disciples are expected to contribute to the work of God appropriately. And the standard contribution to the work of God was, and still is, ten-percent."Russ: Mathew Henry taught a double tithe. He was part of the established state-church which collected food tithes from Roman Catholics in Ireland and drove thousands to seek refuge in the USA. The non-state-church Protestants of Matthew Henry's day all opposed tithing until around the 1870s.

IV. Don't Take My Word For It!Mike: For the sake of time, space, and my own energy; I will stop my thoughts on the subject here. And since we have established that I don't know everything, I would advise you to use this as a springboard to launch yourself into research mode. There is a lot of information available and I would have you use some of the links that I referenced as your starting point. I hope that you learned something new from this little survey. I know that I have. And it is my prayer that we would all continue to grow with each other as we continue to grow in the Lord. More lessons to come in the future. Peace and love. Mike

Russ: Thank you for encouraging a deeper study on the subject. May God richly bless you is my prayer.Russell Kelly

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Reply to Brad Beaman

Reply to Brad Beaman by Russ Kelly, 7-18, 2009

Brad: Tithing began before the law and continues after the law.

Russ: So also does idolatry, child sacrifice and temple prostitution. Being old and common does not make something moral or eternal.

Brad: Christians ought to tithe.

Russ: Where are your texts? There is no commandment to the Church to tithe after Calvary. Christians ought to give as they are increased and motivated by the Holy Spirit through love. This often means more than 10% but it might mean less for many.

Brad: The minimum standard for Christian giving is the tithe, one tenth.

Russ: This is a modern myth. Even in the OT it was only a minimum for food producers who lived inside Israel. Although money was common even in Genesis and essential for sanctuary worship, money is never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of th tithe for over 1500 years from Leviticus to Luke. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did the poor nor those who lived outside Israel.

Brad: Hebrews 7 underscores that tithing is an eternal principle….It is a moral principle.

Russ: Wrong. Tithing from Hebrews 7:5 "must be changed" in 7:12 and the "necessary change" was the "annulment of the commandment going before" (in 7:5) per 7:18. That is the context. The only eternal principles mentioned in Hebrews 7:16 deos not include tithing.

Brad: Who was the greatest man of the Old Testament? If you look the answer might surprise you. It is Melchizedek. Wow and he is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament Genesis 14:18-20 and Psalms 110:4.

Russ: If so, then why is he not even mentioned ouitside of of Hebrews? Why did not Jesus mention him? It is not the historical man who is so important. Rather it is the ORDER of his office as priest-king. The importance of Psalm 110:4 is that it necessitates the eventual total replacement of the Aaronic priesthood, including the law of tithing which supported it from Hebrews 7:5.

Brad: In Geneses 14 Melchizedek is observed historically.

Russ: True. And only historically. None of his historical attributes qualified him as a priest in Israel. Yet all of his historical attributes quallified him as a type of Christ for all nations.

Brad: In Psalm 110 he is spoken of prophetically.

Russ: True. His ORDER, not his person, is a type of the Messiah. David had to go outside of Israel to find this type because Israel had no priest-kings.

Brad: … and in Hebrews 7 Melchizedek is applied doctrinally.

Russ: He is chiefly applied TYPICALLY.

Brad: He was met by Melchizedek the priest of the Most High God.

Russ: The Hebrew for "Most High God" is El Elyon -- God Most High. The word is only found once in Genesis. God Most High was the most common pagan title for God. It is important to note that Melchizedek did not know or worship God as Yahweh, Jehovah.

Brad: This mysterious priest is also the King of Salem. A king and a priest. This is a unique combination to be a priest and a king.

Russ: It was unique to Israel but very common for the rest of the known world of Abram's time and very common in Canaan.
The Encyclopedia Britannica says that Salem was also the name of a consort of Zedek, also known by Canaanites as Jupiter.

Brad: Abram gave a tithe, a tenth to this priest/king.

Russ: Why? The Bible does not say that he gave it voluntarily. Genesis 14:21 suggests that the well-known Canaanite requirement to tithe spoils of war to one's local priest-king was the real motive.

Brad: Hebrews 7 lays out the doctrinal significance that I want us to look at.

Russ: Yes. Everything negative in Genesis 14 which disqualified the historical Melchizedek from being an Aaronic priest actualy qualified him to be a type of the Messianic king-priest, the God of all nations.

Brad: The principle of tithing precedes the law by hundreds of years. Abraham (Abram) paid tithes to the priest of the Most High God, not under the law.

Russ: As previously discussed, this proves nothing.

Brad: We find that Melchizedek is a type of Christ. Melchizedek means King and Tsedek means righteousness. He is the King of righteousness. He is the King of Salem. The word Salem means peace. Melchizedek is the King of Peace.

Russ: He is all of these things "by interpretation of his name," by "similitude" and "after the order" --- typology.

Brad: Abraham giving tithes to Melchizedek typified New Testament Christians giving tithes to Christ.

Russ: This is a total maniupulation of the text and context. Abraham gave pagan spoils of war which were not acceptable as holy tithes under the Law. Hebrews 7 uses the tithe as a vehicle to prove that Jesus is superior to Abraham and Aaron.

Brad: The principle of the tithe precedes and transcends the ceremonial law.

Russ: Abraham and Jacob's pagan tithe was not equivalent to the holy tithe off the holy land by a holy people to a holy God as obedience to a holy law.

Brad: It is better for us to bring tithes to Jesus Christ who is the eternal high priest. It is better than the tithes of the Old Covenant system.

Russ: This is not found in the Bible. Hebrews 7:12 and 7:18-19 clearly annul the tithing law of 7:5.

Brad: God will bless you when you give your tithe with the right motive.

Russ: Tithes were cold hard law and were to be given regardless of one's motives or feelings.

Brad: It is no wonder that the Macedonian Christians begged for the opportunity to give. (2 Corinthians 8:3) As we give God blesses us.

Russ: 2 Cor 8 and 9 is a discussion of freewill giving of food for famine rellief. It is not a discussion of church support or pastoral support per se.

The key tithing passage is Numbers 18. Those who received the first whole Levitical tithes were only the Levite SERVANTS to the priest. This is ignored today. The priests only received one per cent. That is ignored today also. Both Levites and priests who received this tithe were forbidden from owning property. This is ignored today. They were to KILL anybody who dared to worship God directly. This is ignroed today. It is wrong to obey only a small part of the tithing statute/ordinance. Either obey all of it or none of it.

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rebuttal of Rev Mike

All These Things, Tuesday, July 14, 2009

EDITED: See above for unedited text.

Mike: The purpose of tithes and offering is to support the church.

Russ: No texts because there are none. The OT purpose was to support the Levite servants to the priests who gave 1% to the Aaronic priests (Num 18:21-28; Neh 10:37-38). However both the Temple and the priesthood have been replaced by the individual believer and not by pastors.

Mike: All of the tithes and offerings are designated to go to particular ministries or “accounts”.

Russ: The Church is never commanded to tithe. OT tithes were never used for mission work to convert Gentiles.

Mike: 1. The pastor's salary2. The staff salary

Russ: The priests only received one percent of the total tithe. The staff (Levite ushers, deacons, choir, musicians, bakers, treasurers and politicians received the first ten per cent. Read 1 Chronicles 23 to 26.

Those who received OT Levitical tithes were not allowed to own or inherit property. They were commanded to kill anybody who dared to worship God as a priest.

Mike: We also have a Building fund account that goes towards the upkeep of the Church building and for maintaining the land around the church.

Russ: Good. In the OT pagan tithes from spoils of war were also used for this.

Mike: Then we have a Mission Offering Fund account that is designated money for our mission outreach programs. These programs include:

Russ: The OT did not use tithes for this purpose. Mike: 1. Providing food for families.2. Supporting a ministry church in Haiti3. Helping members to pay electricity bills, rent, or any emergency that they may need assistance with.

Russ: In the OT there was a second festival tithe and a third poor tithe which took care of these needs. Mike: A tithe is simply 10% of your income given to the church.

Russ: Biblical tithes were always only food from inside Israel. Although money was common even in Genesis and essential for sanctuary worship, money was never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe for over 1500 years from Leviticus to Luke. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did the poor nor those who lived outside Israel.

Mike: In the book of Genesis 14:20, Abram … It was a gesture of respect to the one in authority.

Russ: This is not in the Bible. Most likely Abram's tithe to his local priest king was in response to common Canaanite tradition.

Mike: The tithe given is the minimum that you are required to give.

Russ: It is myth to teach that the OT tithe was a minimum, standard, expectation, beginning point, training wheels for everybody. Actually this was only true of food producers who lived inside God's holy land of Israel. City dwellers who had trades and those who lived outside Israel did not qualify.

Mike: If you can afford to give more, certainly give more. But don’t worry about that at this point. An offering is simply anything else that you give in addition to your required 10%(tithe).

Russ: There is no NT division of tithes and offerings. The equality principle of 2 Cor 8:12-14 implies that many should give more than 10% while others cannot give that much. It is also wrong to equate tithes with firstfruits when they are not the same. Firstfruits were very small token offerings per Deu 26:1-4 and Neh 10:35-38.

Paul's command in 1st Timothy 5:8 is that our first should buy essential medicine, food and shelter rather than be worse than the heathen.Mike: Why should I give? You should give because God has commanded us to give. In Malachi 3:10.

Russ: The "us" of Malachi was Old Covenant Israel and not the Church. The whole law was a test and not merely tithing. Obey ALL to be blessed; break ONE to be cursed. Galatians 3:10-13 clearly replaces Malachi 3:10-12 for Hebrews. Gentiles were never under the Law of Moses.

Mike: Malachi is saying that we should bring in our tithes and offering to the church (storehouse).

Russ: The OT Temple was replaced, not by the church building, but by the priesthood of the believers. The NT church did not even have buildings for over 200 years after Calvary. The NT church is not a storehouse. Even more, read Nehemiah 10:37b-38. The OT first whole Levitical tithe was taken to the Levitical cites --not to the Temple.

Mike: Just as the community provided for the church; we should provide for the church through our monetary donations(as well as our time and talent).

Russ: In the OT this was done through three separate tithes of 20-23%. Why is this not taught?Mike: But what if I can’t afford to tithe? God promises that He will provide for us as long as we do our part. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Russ: Good, but this is not a discussion of tithing. As a rabbi Paul had been taught that it was sin to be paid for teaching the Word.

I invite you to enter into an extended discussion of this subject with me on the Yahoo Tithing-Study Group.

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Monday, July 13, 2009

Martin Luther Did Not Teach Tithing

Should the Church Teach Tithing
December 15, 2006

RUSSELL EARL KELLY: While discussing matters of the Law such as tithing, it is necessary to first establish a working hermeneutic, a principle of interpretation, to use for determining exactly how Old Covenant laws apply to Christians. In chapter 18, titled The Christian, the Mosaic Law and the ‘Law’ of Christ I apply the following hermeneutic: Nothing in the Mosaic Law (as law) applies to Christians unless it is either repeated to the Church after the cross or is evident in natural law and in the conscience of all men. And, since a ten per cent tithing principle is not found either in the New Covenant after the cross or in the inner being, or conscience, of all men, then tithing is not taught to the Church. To my pleasant surprise, Dr. Martin Luther used exactly the same Bible hermeneutic in a sermon delivered on August 27, 1525. These are not “out of context” or random remarks about the Law and tithing. Rather Dr. Luther is speaking precisely to the point because his sermon title is How Christians Should Regard Moses. My comments are followed by Luther’s sermon for comparison. Luther mentions tithing twice. These are greatly reduced. The entire document can be found at:
KELLY: The Mosaic Law, including the Ten Commandments, was not given to the Gentiles. It was only given to Israel.
DR. MARTIN LUTHER; 1525: The Law of Moses Binds Only the Jews and Not the Gentiles. Here the Law of Moses has its place. It is no longer binding on us because it was given only to the people of Israel. And Israel accepted this law for itself and its descendants, while the Gentiles were excluded.
KELLY: Natural law which is written in the hearts of every person reveals which part of the Mosaic Law is eternal and moral.
LUTHER: To be sure, the Gentiles have certain laws in common with the Jews, such as these: there is one God, no one is to do wrong to another, no one is to commit adultery or murder or steal, and others like them. This is written by nature into their hearts; they did not hear it straight from heaven as the Jews did. This is why this entire text does not pertain to the Gentiles. …
KELLY: Christians must not go back to living under any part of the Mosaic Law under any circumstances.
LUTHER: But we will not have this sort of thing. We would rather not preach again for the rest of our life than to let Moses return and to let Christ be torn out of our hearts. We will not have Moses as ruler or lawgiver any longer. Indeed God himself will not have it either. Moses was an intermediary solely for the Jewish people. It was to them that he gave the law. ………………………………………..
KELLY: Those who place themselves under any one part of the Mosaic Law (which is not revealed in natural law) are placing themselves under all of the Mosaic Law.
LUTHER: We must therefore silence the mouths of those factious spirits who say, "Thus says Moses," etc. Here you simply reply: Moses has nothing to do with us. If I were to accept Moses in one commandment, I would have to accept the entire Moses. Thus the consequence would be that if I accept Moses as master, then I must have myself circumcised, wash my clothes in the Jewish way, eat and drink and dress thus and so, and observe all that stuff.
KELLY: The Law of Moses ended when Christ died on the cross.
LUTHER: So, then, we will neither observe nor accept Moses. Moses is dead. His rule ended when Christ came. He is of no further service.
KELLY: Not even the Ten Commandments apply to Gentiles in the context in which they were given unless found in natural law.
LUTHER: That Moses does not bind the Gentiles can be proved from Exodus 20:1, where God himself speaks, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." This text makes it clear that even the Ten Commandments do not pertain to us. For God never led us out of Egypt, but only the Jews.
KELLY: Many today tell us that two-thirds of the law have been abolished (the ordinances and judgments) but that the Ten Commandments remain unchanged. This is not what Luther taught.
LUTHER: The sectarian spirits want to saddle us with Moses and all the commandments. We will just skip that. We will regard Moses as a teacher, but we will not regard him as our lawgiver - unless he agrees with both the New Testament and the natural law. Therefore it is clear enough that Moses is the lawgiver of the Jews and not of the Gentiles. He has given the Jews a sign whereby they should lay hold of God, when they call upon him as the God who brought them out of Egypt. The Christians have a different sign, whereby they conceive of God as the One who gave his Son, etc.
KELLY: The Sabbath commandment which only requires Hebrews to worship on the sixth day of the week (Saturday) as a sign of the Old Covenant is an example that the Ten Commandments were never given to the Gentiles.
LUTHER: Again one can prove it from the third commandment that Moses does not pertain to Gentiles and Christians. For Paul [Col. 2:16] and the New Testament [Matt. 12:1-12; John 5:16; 7:22-23; 9:14-16] abolish the Sabbath, to show us that the Sabbath was given to the Jews alone, for whom it is a stern commandment. The prophets referred to it too, that the Sabbath of the Jews would be abolished. For Isaiah says in the last chapter, "When the Savior comes, then such will be the time, one Sabbath after the other, one month after the other," etc. [Isa. 66:23]. This is as though he were trying to say, "It will be the Sabbath every day, and the people will be such that they make no distinction between days. For in the New Testament the Sabbath is annihilated as regards the crude external observance, for every day is a holy day," etc.
KELLY: Not one little period of the Mosaic Law applies to Christians because it has all been fulfilled in Christ.
LUTHER: Now if anyone confronts you with Moses and his commandments, and wants to compel you to keep them, simply answer, "Go to the Jews with your Moses; I am no Jew. Do not entangle me with Moses. If I accept Moses in one respect [Paul tells the Galatians in chapter 5:3], then I am obligated to keep the entire law." For not one little period in Moses pertains to us. ………………………………………………..
KELLY: There is much in the Old Covenant to study, learn from and teach which is not law. The Old Covenant is still very important and useful for instruction.
LUTHER: Question: Why then do you preach about Moses if he does not pertain to us? Answer to the Question: Three things are to be noted in Moses. I want to keep Moses and not sweep him under the rug, because I find three things in Moses. In the first place I dismiss the commandments given to the people of Israel. They neither urge nor compel me. They are dead and gone, except insofar as I gladly and willingly accept something from Moses, as if I said, "This is how Moses ruled, and it seems fine to me, so I will follow him in this or that particular."
KELLY: From his study of Scripture, Luther concluded that the Biblical TITHE was actually a TAX. While agreeing that TITHING is not for Christians, Luther conjectured that, if the ruler and the Church used tithing as a TAX to replace all other taxes, then it would be good. As a TAX, tithing was more fair that what most governments and the pope expected in Luther’s day.
LUTHER: I would even be glad if [today's] lords ruled according to the example of Moses. If I were emperor, I would take from Moses a model for [my] statutes; not that Moses should be binding on me, but that I should be free to follow him in ruling as he ruled. For example, TITHING is a very fine rule, because with the giving of the tenth all other taxes would be eliminated. For the ordinary man it would also be easier to give a tenth than to pay rents and fees. Suppose I had ten cows; I would then give one. If I had only five, I would give nothing. If my fields were yielding only a little, I would give proportionately little; if much, I would give much. All of this would be in God's providence. But as things are now, I must pay the Gentile tax even if the hail should ruin my entire crop. If I owe a hundred gulden in taxes, I must pay it even though there may be nothing growing in the field. This is also the way the pope decrees and governs. But it would be better if things were so arranged that when I raise much, I give much; and when little, I give little.
KELLY: Luther also thought that permanent land ownership might be a better idea than the system he lived under, but he still refused to suggest that Moses’ law should become the law of the land.
KELLY: Again in Moses it is also stipulated that no man should sell his field into a perpetual estate, but only up to the jubilee year [Lev. 25:8-55]. … The Gentiles are not obligated to obey Moses. Moses is the Sachsenspiegel for the Jews. But if an example of good government were to be taken from Moses, one could adhere to it without obligation as long as one pleased, etc.
KELLY: The peasant revolt of Luther’s day was caused by literal interpretation of Moses’ promise of God’s Kingdom (to Hebrews) which they tried establish and apply to themselves by violence. Many peasants became end-times fanatics which resulted in their deaths in war. Luther pointed out that they had erred by taking texts from Moses which only applied to the Hebrews and applying them out of context to themselves. He argued that they had confused the Law of Moses with natural law.
LUTHER: When these factious spirits [peasants] come, however, and say, "Moses has commanded it," then simply drop Moses and reply, "I am not concerned about what Moses commands." "Yes," they say, "he has commanded that we should have one God, that we should trust and believe in him, that we should not swear by his name; that we should honor father and mother; not kill, steal, commit adultery; not bear false witness, and not covet [Exod. 20:3-17]; should we not keep these commandments?" You reply: Nature also has these laws. Nature provides that we should call upon God. The Gentiles attest to this fact. … The Gentiles have it written in their heart, and there is no distinction [Rom. 3:22]. As St. Paul also shows in Romans 2:14-15, the Gentiles, who have no law, have the law written in their heart.
But just as the Jews fail, so also do the Gentiles. Therefore it is To honor God, not steal, not commit adultery, not bear false witness, not murder; and what Moses commands is nothing new. For what God has given the Jews from heaven, he has also written in the hearts of all men. Thus I keep the commandments which Moses has given, not because Moses gave the commandment, but because they have been implanted in me by nature, and Moses agrees exactly with nature, etc.
KELLY: Luther uses TITHING a second time to illustrate his point! Tithing is not revealed by and in nature. Mankind does not naturally KNOW that he must give ten per cent (10%) to God. Therefore tithing is not extended for Gentiles and the Church. Remember that Luther “wished we had” the tithe because he wanted the tithe to replace all taxes from the state and from the church.
LUTHER: But the other commandments of Moses, which are not [implanted in all men] by nature, the Gentiles do not hold. Nor do these pertain to the Gentiles, such as the TITHE and others equally fine which I wish we had too. Now this is the first thing that I ought to see in Moses, namely, the commandments to which I am not bound except insofar as they are [implanted in everyone] by nature [and written in everyone's heart].
….[new thought]…..
LUTHER: I find something in Moses that I do not have from nature: the promises and pledges of God about Christ. This is the best thing. It is something that is not written naturally into the heart, but comes from heaven. God has promised, for example, that his Son should be born in the flesh. This is what the gospel proclaims. It is not commandments. And it is the most important thing in Moses which pertains to us. The first thing, namely, the commandments, does not pertain to us. I read Moses because such excellent and comforting promises are there recorded, by which I can find strength for my weak faith. For things take place in the kingdom of Christ just as I read in Moses that they will; therein I find also my sure foundation. In this manner, therefore, I should accept Moses, and not sweep him under the rug: first because he provides fine examples of laws, from which excerpts may be taken. Second, in Moses there are the promises of God which sustain faith. … Genesis 3:15 …Genesis 22:18 … Deuteronomy 18:15-16 …
One must deal cleanly with the Scriptures. From the very beginning the word has come to us in various ways. It is not enough simply to look and see whether this is God's word, whether God has said it; rather we must look and see to whom it has been spoken, whether it fits us. That makes all the difference between night and day.
The word in Scripture is of two kinds: the first does not pertain or apply to me, the other kind does. And upon that word which does pertain to me I can boldly trust and rely, as upon a strong rock. But if it does not pertain to me, then I should stand still. Therefore tell this to Moses: Leave Moses and his people together; they have had their day and do not pertain to me. If Christ had not added, "preach to all creatures," then I would not listen, would not be baptized, just as I now will not listen to Moses because he is given not to me but only to the Jews. This distinction should be noticed, grasped, and taken to heart by those preachers who would teach others; indeed by all Christians, for everything depends entirely upon it.
"God's word, God's word." But my dear fellow, the question is whether it was said to you. God indeed speaks also to angels, wood, fish, birds, animals, and all creatures, but this does not make it pertain to me. I should pay attention to that which applies to me, that which is said to me, in which God admonishes, drives, and requires something of me. …
It is like this with the word of God. Suppose I take up something that God ordered someone else to do, and then I declare, "But you said to do it." God would answer, "Let the devil thank you; I did not tell you to do it." One must distinguish well whether the word pertains to only one or to everybody. … Thus what God said to Moses by way of commandment is for the Jews only. …
Thus we read Moses not because he applies to us, that we must obey him, but because he agrees with the natural law and is conceived better than the Gentiles would ever have been able to do. Thus the Ten Commandments are a mirror of our life, in which we can see wherein we are lacking, etc. The sectarian spirits have misunderstood also with respect to the images; for that too pertains only to the Jews. [[2nd commandment]]
Summing up this second part, we read Moses for the sake of the promises about Christ, who belongs not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles; for through Christ all the Gentiles should have the blessing, as was promised to Abraham [Gen. 12:3].
……[new thought]…………
LUTHER: In the third place we read Moses for the beautiful examples of faith, of love, and of the cross, as shown in the fathers, Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and all the rest. …Therefore we should not sweep Moses under the rug. Moreover the Old Testament is thus properly understood when we retain from the prophets the beautiful texts about Christ, when we take note of and thoroughly grasp the fine examples, and when we use the laws as we please to our advantage.
LUTHER: Conclusion and Summary. I have stated that all Christians, and especially those who handle the word of God and attempt to teach others, should take heed and learn Moses aright. Thus where he gives the commandments, we are not to follow him except so far as he agrees with the natural law. Moses is a teacher and doctor of the Jews. We have our own master, Christ, and he has set before us what we are to know, observe, do, and leave undone. However it is true that Moses sets down, in addition to the laws, fine examples of faith and unfaith - punishment of the godless, elevation of the righteous and believing - and also the dear and comforting promises concerning Christ which we should accept. The same is true also in the gospel. For example in the account of the ten lepers, that Christ bids them go to the priest and make sacrifice [Luke 17:14] does not pertain to me. The example of their faith, however, does pertain to me; I should believe Christ, as did they.
KELLY: The great preachers of the 21st century who preach tithing are making the same mistake of misusing Moses as did the great preachers of the past.
LUTHER: Enough has now been said of this, and it is to be noted well for it is really CRUCIAL. Many great and outstanding people have missed it, while even today many great preachers still stumble over it. They do not know how to preach Moses, nor how properly to regard his books. They are absurd as they rage and fume, chattering to people, "God's word, God's word!" All the while they mislead the poor people and drive them to destruction. Many learned men have not known how far Moses ought to be taught. Origen, Jerome, and others like them, have not shown clearly how far Moses can really serve us. This is what I have attempted, to say in an introduction to Moses how we should regard him, and how he should be understood and received and not simply be swept under the rug. For in Moses there is comprehended such a fine order, that it is a joy, etc. God be praised.
(1) Martin Luther, "How Christians Should Regard Moses," trans. and ed. by E. Theodore Bachmann, Luther's Works: Word and Sacrament I, vol. 35 (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1960), 161-174. This sermon was delivered on August 27, 1525 in Luther's long series of seventy-seven sermons on Exodus preached from October 2, 1524 to February 2, 1527.
(2) Further, they [the peasants] argued that the social laws of the land ought to be replaced by judicial laws of the Mosaic covenant. … Luther opposed the notion that the Scriptures would be properly exalted if Mosaic precepts were suddenly, as law, to replace laws of the German state and church. He warned that while seemingly honoring the Scriptures, one can actually distort the meaning and intention of the Word of God . . . 'Moses' is not the Word of God in the sense that 'Moses' could be substituted for a piece of human legislation . . . Anyone who, like the enthusiasts, erects Mosaic law as a biblical-divine requirement does injury to the preaching of Christ. …Christ is the end of the Mosaic law. For all the stipulations of that law, insofar as they go beyond the natural law, have been abolished by Christ. The Ten Commandments are binding upon all men only so far as they are implanted in everyone by nature. In this sense Luther declares that 'Moses is dead' . . . The era of Mosaic law extends from Sinai to Pentecost. … (from introduction to sermon, pp. 157-159; written by E. Theodore Bachman).
Calvin referred to these laws as the "equity" of the Mosaic Law (Inst. 4.20.16). Both Calvin and Luther agreed that anything in the Mosaic Law that was not "general," "common," or "equitable" to all nations no longer applied to the state, seeing that those specific laws were applicable only to Israel.
***Calvin argued, "I would have preferred to pass over this matter in utter silence if I were not aware that here many dangerously go astray. For there are some who deny that a commonwealth is duly framed which neglects the political system of Moses, and is ruled by the common laws of nations. Let other men consider how perilous and seditious this notion is; it will be enough for me to have proved it false and foolish . . . It is a fact that the law of God which we call the moral law is nothing else than a testimony of natural law and of that conscience which God has engraved upon the minds of men. Consequently, the entire scheme of this equity of which we are now speaking has been prescribed in it. Hence, this equity alone must be the goal and rule and limit of all laws. Whatever laws shall be framed to that rule, directed to that goal, bound by that limit, there is no reason why we should disapprove of them, howsoever they may differ from the Jewish law, or among themselves . . . For the statement of some, that the law of God given through Moses is dishonored when it is abrogated and new laws preferred to it, is utterly vain. For others are not preferred to it when they are more approved, not by a simple comparison, but with regard to the condition of times, place, and nation; or when that law is abrogated which was never enacted for us. For the Lord through the hand of Moses did not give that law to be proclaimed among all nations and to be in force everywhere; but when he had taken the Jewish nation into his safekeeping, defense, and protection, he also willed to be a lawgiver especially to it; and -- as became a wise lawgiver -- he had special concern for it in making its laws (Inst. 4.20.14, 16; also see Calvin's comments on Rom. 1:21-27 and 2:14-15).