Saturday, August 08, 2009

Reply to Ad Trinitatem

Ad Trinitatem, The Tithe and its Uses, August 8, 2009

Writer: I believe that it is an aspect of Christian obedience to tithe, that is, to set aside ten percent of one’s earned income.

Kelly: The biblical tithes was always only food from inside Israel. Although money was common in Genesis and essential for worship, money was never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe. Jesus, Peter and PaUl did not qualify as tithe-payes and neither did the poor nor those who lived outside Israel.

Writer: I want to explain again why I think tithing, is something that has not been abrogated with the coming of Christ.

Kelly: Jesus was the fulfillment of the order of Melchizedek and Melchizedek was neither from Aaron or Levi. Hebrews 7:12 says that it was "necessary to change the law" (of tithing from 7:5). And 7:18 says that the "commandment going before" had been "annulled," or abrogated.

Writer: Abram tithed to Melchizedek, the King of Salem, who blessed him who had the promises (Genesis 15.19-20, Hebrews 7.2, 6). Christ is a high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110.4), so it follows that we who are Abraham’s seed through our baptism into Christ (Galatians 3.29), should pay a tenth of what we have to Christ.

Kely: You ignore the conclusion of Hebrews 7:12-19. The church is never commadned to tithe after Calvary. Hebrews 7 uses tithing merely as a vehicle to prove that Jesus is superior to Aaron. Nothing, absolutely nothing, Abraham did in Genesis 14 is an example of tithing followed by any church today. (1) only tithed pagan spoils of war, (2) only once recorded, (3) not a holy tithe from al holy land, (4) not his own property, (5) he kept nothing and (6) gave the 90% the king of Sodom. No church does any of those six.

Writer: Moreover, when Jacob sees a ladder reaching to heaven and God promises to bless him with offspring and through his offspring all the families of the earth, Jacob responds by promising to give a tenth of all that God gives him (Genesis 28.22). This is the same promise God made to Abraham (Genesis 12.3), the promise of which we are the heirs, which is nothing less than the gospel (Galatians 3.7-9, 29), and so in response to God’s gospel promise, we too should give God a tenth of all that he gives us.

Kelly: Jacob promised a tithe of pagan possession. Jacob set the conditons and told God what to do. That is not taught in any church today. It is odd that you do not refer to Galatians 3:10-13. Neither Abraham nor Jacob are used by Moses in the Law and examples of tithing.

Writer: Tithing is not a ceremonial law that was instituted for Israel during the giving of the law and so arguably obsolete in the era of the new covenant:

Kelly: It most certainly was. Numbers 18! Read it. It is the statute of tithing. (1) Levitical tithes should go first to the servants of the priests (ushers, deacons, choir, muscians, etc), (2) priests only get one per cent, (3) only priests can enter the sanctuary, (4) priests are to kill anybody who dares to worship God directly and (5) tithe recipients cannot own or inherit property. Which of these do you obey?

Writer: from the examples of Abraham and Jacob, tithing seems – like sabbath and marriage – to be a creation ordinance and this was the basis for its reiteration during the giving of the law.

Kelly: Tithing originated among the pagans of Abraham's time alongside idolatry, child sacrifice and temple prostitution. Being very old and very common does not make something eternal or moral.

Writer: In addition, when as a result of Christ’s coming an aspect of the Old Testament Law no longer has direct application to the Christian, we are explicitly told. … That is precisely not the case with tithing. When he rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy in tithing mint and dill and cumin but neglecting the weighter matters of the law of justice, mercy and faithfulness, he doesn’t say that the tithing even of the smallest amounts of produce is not necessary, but, “These [the weightier matters of the law] you ought to have done without neglecting the others” (Matthew 23.23).

Kelly: (1) The temple which tithing supported ended, (2) the priesthood ended, (3) the Levitical cites ended, (4) the purpose of tithing to support the Levitical priesthodo ended, (5) the definiion as only food from inside Israel ended, (6) the Old Covenant ended and (7) the prohibition that tithe-recipients cannot own properety ended. Everything about tithing ended. While the Law was stil in full force, Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for adding garden spices to the law and making it a burden. He was discussing "matters of the law." Jesus could not have told his Gentile disciples to tithe because it would have been illegal.

Writer: Furthermore, the way the writers of the New Testament epistles handle tithing in the Old Testament makes inadmissible the suggestion that we no longer have to do it; rather, it finds renewed application in the church.

Kelly: Total nonsense and opinion. Not one single part of the OT tithing law is followed today.

Writer: One of the purposes of the tithe, which was either a tenth of the produce of the people of Israel, or its value in money, was to provide for the Levites who served in the tent of meeting (Numbers 18.21).

Kelly: The Levite received the first whole tithe per Numbers 18:21-24 and the Levite was NOT a priest, but a servant to the priest. They were not allowed inside the tent itself.

Writer: The apostle Paul takes this law and argues on the basis of it that ministers of the gospel should be provided for out of what Christians give them. “Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrifical offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” – 1 Corinthians 9.13-14 (emphasis mine).

Kelly: Your principle of interpretation is wrong. If it were correct, then you would be obligated to copy "in the same way" every single type of OT support of the Temple in addition to tithing. The context goes back to verse 7. Each vocation provides principles for the support of that vocation. The gospel worker's support comes from gospel principles of faith and grace, not from law principles which include tithing. Explain it in context.

Writer: It is clear from the context that the minister getting his living by the gospel means receiving material provision from Christians, including those amongst whom he has laboured, who have benefited from the ministry of the gospel, such that he can refrain from working as a living.
“Is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?” – 1 Corinthians 9.6 “If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things form you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?” – 1 Corinthians 9.11-12

Kelly: Wow! (1) You ignored verses 7-10 which provide context for 9:14. (2) You did not quote all of verse 12 which ends "Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ" and (3) you ignored the remainder of the discussion in 9:15-19 where Paul says exactly the opposite of what you conclulde. The Bible neither approves of nor condons full time ministry. Paul was certainly against it as in Acts 20:29-35.

Writer: The fact that circumstances mean that for the sake of the gospel, Paul does not make use of this right doesn’t alter the fact that it is his right, and the right of everyone who proclaims the gospel, and therefore, it is required that the church which benefits from gospel ministry provide what its ministers would otherwise have obtained from working and that means the church should tithe, just as those who laboured in the temple received what they needed to live from the tithe under the old covenant.

Kelly: Paul did not discuss whether or not gospel workers have a right to full time support. In fact, the OT Levites and priests only served in the Temple two weeks out of 48. They spent the rest of their time in the Levitical cities working as farmers, herdsmen (of tithed animals) and working trades necessary for temple upkeep. This secret is not taught today but is fully explained in 1st Chronicles 23 to 26.

Writer: It has emerged from our discussion of the ongoing place of the tithe in the new covenant era that one of the purposes of the tithe is to support those who have been set apart from ordinary work for the service of the Lord in the corporate life and worship of his people – the Levites in the Old Testament and ministers of the gospel in the New Testament.

Kelly: See my last comment.

Writer: However, while ordained ministers of God are to be provided for out of the tithe …

Kelly: This is not found in God's Word and it is not found from any reputable church historian of the first 300 years in any denomination.

Writer: ... Are there needy people known to us to whom we should be giving or who are being neglected? The New Testament sets out the priorities of the claims on our resources: our family (1 Timothy 5.8) and then the church and finally the wider community (Galatians 6.10).

Kelly: At least you understand 1st Timothy 5:8. Tithes are not the same as firstfruits and our first income should pay for medicine, food and essential shelter.

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