Wednesday, November 25, 2009

US EPISCOPAL Church Defeated Tithing Resolution

The U. S. Episcopal Church has just DEFEATED a resolution which would have required its convention delegates to TITHE. Nov 25, 2009

The article states that tithing was first required of delegates in 1982.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reply to Paul King

Paul King

Paul: Can you explain why you don't acknowledge what is written in verses 22-23.

Russ: It cover it in my 288 page book, not in my 10 page short essay summary. It is free online as a pdf file and free on my web site.

Paul: It is recorded that Abram made some kind of vow or agreement with God about the allotment of the spoil. This theory is stronger than your pagan culture theory.

Russ: My pagan culture theory is based on what happened in Genesis 14:21 which YOU skipped over. I found it in the Southern Baptist dominated Wycliffe Bible Commentary and several other sources. I did not originate it. If the 90% of 14:21 were controlled by pagan custom, then the 10% of verse 20 should be also. I quote several other commentaries in my book to show this contradiction.

Paul: Even though there is no recorded demand for a tenth, we can conclude some type of pledge was made by Abram.

Russ: The pledge was Abram's way of confirming that God could and would bless him by faith and not by his own works. In the last half of Genesis 12 Abraham became even more wealthy when he actually lied about his sister to Pharaoh.

Paul: On that basis, how did you come up with this eis-egetical interpretation of a pagan tradition?

Russ: Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Nelson's Bible Dictionary and International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Also see the extensive research by another person which follows my Essay on page one of my web site. It is not new.

Paul: Why do you exclude the "God" element when you are reaching your conclusion?

Russ: In Numbers God gave Moses a statute/ordinance which limited tithes from spoils of war to one per cent and one tenth of one per cent. That is the God element. It is described in my book which you have not read. They were never equated with the holy tithes from inside Israel. Why do you ignore that fact?

Paul: Circumstantial evidence is a collection of facts that, when considered together, can be used to infer a conclusion about something unknown. That may work in a court room, but not when it comes to exegeting God's word.

Russ: I am confident that my arguments will stand up in any court --civil or religious.

Paul: Since you are an exegete, why is that you don't follow the principle of exegesis. Exegesis - The act of establishing meaning of a text from the text itself.

Russ: I do. The text itself does not say WHY Abram gave a tithe of pagan spoils of war to a priest-king. The text itself does not say WHO El-Elyon was in Canaan. The text itself does not reveal that Zedek was the name of Jupiter in Canaan. Why do you ignore the proven theology of Canaan which has been found by many researchers? Abraham was living in a pagan land and had to obey some pagan customs. He could not pass through a priest-king's territory and ignore his rules.

Paul: Secondly, why is so hard for you to except what the bible says in Heb 7. that Paul, the author of the book of Hebrews, in recounting Gen. 14: 17-20 considered the Levitical priest who descended from Abraham and who appeared centuries later as having paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham.

Russ: Again read my book. The tithing command of Hebrews 7:5 was "of necessity changed" in 7:12 and that "change" was its "annulment" in 7:18. To me that is extremely clear!

Paul: Why would Paul connect the two dispensations? If Abram did something paganistic why would Paul mention him as an example to the Hebrews?

Russ: Paul is contrasting the "historical" Melchizedek of Genesis 14 with the "Messianic" Melchizedek of Psalm 110 and the "typical" Melchizedek of Hebrews 7. It was the OFFICE of the historical Melchizedek which was typical --his office was that of king-priest. He was only the king of righteous "by interpretation of his name."

Paul: You attribute Abram actions as following Pagan practices.

Russ: God can and does change pagan types to refer to holy things.
(1) To the Canaanite El-Elyon was a well known god around the world of Abraham's time. Abraham recognized that the real El-Elyon was actually Yahweh.
(2) In the OT God revealed himself to Israel primarily as Yahweh. In the NT God reveals himself as El Elyon, God most high TO ALL NATIONS.
(3) The brass serpent became a symbol of salvation in Moses' time. Acknowledge your sins.
(4) Cyrus of Persia is called "my servant."
(5) The Babylonian army in Habakkuk is God's army to punish Israel.
(6) The CROSS of shame is now a symbol of victory.
You, my friend, do not understand how the Bible uses TYPOLOGY.

Russ Kelly

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reply to Brother Dave's spiritual Reflections

Reply to Brother Dave's Spiritual Reflections EDITED

Dave: Firstly we need to understand that the tithe belongs to God. It is not ours, and must be returned to God.

Russ: Although money was common in Genesis the true biblical tithe was always only food from inside Israel which had been miraculously increased by God off His holy land. It belonged to God because it came off his land. God did not accept tithes which did not come from His holy land.

Dave: The tithe is an expression of gratitude to God by His people.

Russ: No. The tithe was cold hard law which must be given by food producers who lived inside Israel whether they were grateful or not.

Dave: Tithing is our acknowledgement of God’s ownership of everything in the earth.

Russ: Even though God owned everything, He did not accept tithes from outside the holy land of Israel.

Dave: The tithe is 10 percent of our total financial income. This includes all of our income before taxes, family support income, child benefits, inheritances or bonuses, and tax returns, monetary gifts, such as Christmas and birthday money, in fact any financial increase which comes into your life.

Russ: This is an incorrect definition of the true biblical tithe. Churches do not obey any of the tithing ordinance found in Numbers 18. It commands tithe-recipients NOT to own or inherit property and it gives the first whole tithe to the servants who functioned as ushers, deacons, choir, musicians and other helpers.

Dave: The tithe is not and offering, it is God’s money and must be returned to Him in full. This must be done weekly or monthly.

Russ: The tithe was never the same as a freewill offering.Dave: If we are not able to return to God His tithe of 10%, how then can we really expect God to return to us the wealth of the sinner? Proverbs 13:22 says: “the sinners wealth is laid up for the righteous.”

Russ: The word "tithe" is not found in Proverbs.

Dave: I want to look briefly at Genesis 4:3-5 Already, early in Genesis we see the foundation for tithing—the FIRST fruits of your labour.

Russ: Tithes are never the same as firstfruits. Firstfruits were very small token offerings per Deu 26:1-4 and Neh 10:35-37.

Dave: The very first person to tithe was Abram. The first act of tithing took place 430 year before the mosaic law was even written. It was then written in the law.

Russ: Abram's tithe was from pagan spoils of war. Abram was required to tithe spoils in obedience to well-documented Arab custom of his time. Abram's tithe would not have been accepted as a holy tithe in the Law. They were very different.

Dave: The law was put into place to hold the church together until Jesus came. When Jesus returned to the God, He left the Holy Spirit with us to guide us. The requirement to tithe is still operational, but now we return the tithe under grace, rather than forcibly under the law.

Russ: Tithing was not taught to the Church under grace after Calvary. Period. The necessary change of the law in Hebrews 7:12 (from 7:5) was the annulment of tithing in 7:18. Both the OT Temple and priesthood have been replaced by the priesthood of every believer. There is no such thing as a New Covenant storehouse.

Dave: Therefore tithing is not only part of the mosaic law it is a timeless covenant of blessings, which makes it not a begrudged legal requirement, but a joyous exercise in faith.

Russ: Then why don't modern tithe-teachers obey any of the tithing law found in Numbers 18?

Dave: Genesis 14:18-20
Russ: Nothing Abraham did concerning tithing is copied by any church today. (1) only pagan spoils of war, (2) none of his pre-existing property, (3) only once, (4) he kept nothing and (5) gave the 90% to the king of Sodom.Dave: This covenant was established 430 years before the law was even written. It is unchanging, it always was, and it always will be.

Russ: Tithing is not part of the Abrahamic covenant. It was legislated to support the Law's priesthood.

Dave: Jesus himself endorsed tithing. Matthew 23:23
Russ: Jesus lived under the full jurisdiction of the law and was teaching "matters of the law." He must teach tithing to his Jewish disciples but he could not teach tithing to his Gentile disciples. Dave: “do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. Matt. 5:17

Russ: Read and obey Matthew 5:19-48 which includes the whole law of commandments, statutes and judgments. Either all of the law still applies as such or none of it applies as written.

Dave: So we can clearly see that the early New Testament church tithed after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Russ: Acts 21:20 suggests that the Jewish Christians in Judea were still paying tithes to the Temple system over 30 years after Calvary. Recorded church history does not verify that the early church attempted to teach or practice tithing until it became a state church of pagan Rome. It was not a law in the church until AD777.

Dave: The act of tithing crosses the bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The only thing that was “left behind” was the requirement of the law.

Russ: You just quoted Matthew 5:17 to prove that we must still keep all the law. Tithing, along with the Old Covenant, priesthood, the Temple and the system it was designed to support all ended at Calvary.

Dave: Tithing then and now comes under grace, as being our very minimum level of honoring God with our finance. It is very simple — we return the tithe to God because it is His, not ours!

Russ: This is a common error. It assumes that everybody in the Old Covenant was expected to BEGIN their level of giving at a minimum of ten per cent. In reality the tithe only applied to food producers who lived inside Israel.

Dave: Numbers 18:25-26Russ: How can you list Numbers 18:25-26 and completely ignore what is taught in Numbers 18? If you own a house you are breaking the tithing law. If you do not KILL anybody who dares to enter the sanctuary, you are breaking the tithing law.

Dave: I work fulltime outside the church—have a good income, but I still struggle some weeks to meet my tithe.

Russ: You are to be commended for working full-time outside the church as the Apostle Paul did. However, tithing is not working for you because you are not receiving overflowing blessings. God is not operating from Old Covenant principles now.

Dave: Malachi 3:10-11

Russ: The whole law was a test --not merely tithing. Obey all to be blessed; break ONE to be cursed. In order to be blessed from tithing you must obey all 600+ commands of the law. That is why Paul wrote Galatians 3, especially verse 10.

Russell Earl Kelly

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reply to Keith Troop, Reformed Pastor Blog

Reply to Pastor Keith Troop, Reformed Pastor Blog, by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Keith: As a pastor I have often been asked over the years whether or not I think Christians should tithe, and my response is usually, “I think it is a good place to start.”

Russ: At the start you betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the biblical tithe. Though money was common, the biblical tithe was always only food from inside Israel and it only applied to food producers who lived inside Israel. It never applied to craftsmen such as carpenters, fishermen or tentmakers. There was no minimum standard starting point for giving in either testament.

Keith: For example, many Christians today rightly observe that we are no longer under the Mosaic law (Rom. 6:14-15; Gal. 3:10-23) and that, since tithing was a part of this Mosaic Law (Lev. 27:30-34; Num. 18:20-21; Deut. 14:22-29), we are therefore no longer required to continue the practice.

Russ: "We" the Church, mostly Gentiles, were never under the Old Covenant law at all. "We" the Church, mostly Gentiles never had a Levitical priesthood or Temple system to support.

Keith: In addition, it is observed (argued) that since tithing is not explicitly taught as a requirement in the New Testament, we have another reason that it is not a necessary practice for Christians.

Russ: Acts 21:20 strongly implies that the Jewish Christians in Judea never did stop paying tithes to the Temple system. Both the OT priesthood and Temple now reside within the individual believer who does not tithe to himself.
Keith: I agree that there is no clear New Testament teaching commanding Christians to tithe, and this is why the elders at Immanuel Baptist Church (among whom I serve) do not demand that anyone tithe. But that doesn't mean that we would not encourage tithing as a good and godly practice or, as I stated earlier, as a good place to start with one's giving.

Russ: Church history records that the early leaders for several centuries boasted about their extreme asceticism. Tithing was seen as a purely Jewish custom for over 200 years after Calvary and did not become a legal law for the church until AD777. Keith: First, tithing was the example of godly men before the giving of the Mosaic law. For example: Genesis 14:18-20 and Genesis 28:20-22. What they describe is a good response to God that has been recorded for our benefit. … In fact, I think it may be best to assume that Abraham and Jacob got the idea from God in the first place. But wherever they got the idea, the fact is that the practice was around and found to be good in God's sight …

Russ: Both Abraham and Jacob got the idea of tithing from Babylon, Canaanite tradition and practices all around the known world of their time. There is absolutely no biblical support for the claim that God either commanded them to tithe or even approved it. In Jacob's case, his was a freewill vow wrapped around a condition made by the great manipulator and supplanter.

Nothing done by Abraham is followed by any church today. (1) only pagan spoils of war which were disqualified by the law, (2) only once recorded, (3) not his own pre-existing property, (4) he kept nothing, gave it all back and (5) he gave the 90% to the king of Sodom.

Keith: And we know that God approved of their tithing, for He later incorporated tithing into the Mosaic law as we have already seen. … before its incorporation into the Mosaic law, which should at least give us some pause about being so quick to dismiss it as simply a part of the Mosaic law that has passed away.

Russ: The only part of Abraham's tithe which was incorporated into the Law of Moses is found in Numbers 31 where the tithe of spoils was only one percent. None of Jacob's tithe from the pagan defiled land of Haran would qualify under the law.

Keith: Second, tithing was affirmed by Jesus as a good thing. For example:
NKJ Matthew 23:23
Jesus clearly says that tithing is something they “ought to have done,” even if He sees the kind of tithing spoken of here as not being among the “weightier matters” of the law. But we must also remember that Jesus warned against the legalistic practice of tithing that does not come from the heart:

Russ: Matthew 23:23 is before Calvary and the law was still in full force. Therefore, Jesus MUST teach tithing as a "matter of the law." He could not have commanded his Gentiles disciples to tithe.

Keith: Luke 18:10-14
It is this kind of legalism that so many Christians fear today with respect to the practice of tithing, and they are right to seek to avoid such legalism.

Russ: No. Tithing ended at Calvary when the system it was legislated to support ended. Its covenant, Levites, Levitical cities, priesthood, sacrificial system and ritual all ended. Today no church obeys any of the tithing statute found in Numbers 18 which required tithe-recipients to forfeit property ownership and KILL anybody who dared to enter the sanctuary to worship God directly.

Keith: I would hasten to add that just because something may be done in a legalistic way does not mean that it cannot be practiced in a proper way that recognizes that all that we have is by the grace of God.

Russ: All that we had also belonged to God in the Old Covenant but that was never used as grounds to accept tithes from outside of God's holy land of Israel.

Keith: I would also warn against using the charge of legalism as an excuse to be stingy with what God has given us.

Russ: The "equality principle" of 2nd Corinthians 8:12-15 teaches Christians to give sacrificially. For many that means MORE than 10% but others are giving sacrificially even though giving less.Keith: Now, as for Matthew 23:23, Jesus is dealing with those who were still under the law, and thus we cannot say that He intended here to enjoin the practice of tithing upon the New Covenant Church.

Russ: You understand this correctly.

Keith: But we can say that He approved of and encouraged tithing as a godly practice if done with the right motives.

Russ: Only for those who were still obligated by the law to support the Temple system.Keith: Third, the means of supporting the Levites under the Old Covenant is affirmed by Paul as a good example for Christians to follow in support of their ministers under the New Covenant.

Russ: No. Verse 13 opens the door for EVERY means of supporting the Levites and priests found in Numbers 18 --not merely tithing. Your argument is self-defeating because you want to only keep tithing and discard the rest.

Keith: 1 Corinthians 9:1-14 Paul does not explicitly mention the tithes that were given to the Lord for the sustaining of the Levitical priesthood, but the tithe was definitely a primary means of their support.

Russ: Actually the tenth of the tithe for the priests was one of the smallest means of support. The full tithe went to the Levites who were paid to perform duties as ushers, deacons, choir, musicians, politicians, etc, etc. The church does not follow that pattern.

Keith: And Paul clearly does see the concept of their sharing in what is given by the people as a model for the support of pastors today.

Russ: You miss the point. Verse 14 is a summary of 7-13, not just 13. The principle is that each vocation has its own rules for support. The gospel worker's rule if "to live of the gospel" under gospel principles of grace and faith. Do not forget what Paul wrote in 9:12, 15-19 and Acts 20:29-35. He was not violating his own code of conduct.

Keith: Thus we certainly could say that tithing is a good idea, even if not something that can be demanded (for to demand it when Scripture does not would be the very kind of legalism Jesus despised).

Russ: No. If it were a good idea, the Holy Spirit would have clearly repeated it in terms of Calvary. NT giving principles are: freewill, generous, SACRIFICIAL, joyful, not by commandment (or percentage) and motivated by love for God and lost souls. The problem with most churches is a failure to teach personal evangelism.

Keith: 1 Corinthians 16:2

Russ: This text has absolutely nothing to say about church supports or pastoral salaries. It is not about tithing.

Keith: Fourth, tithing is a good way to honor Christ as our High Priest and King. Hebrews 7:1-8

Russ: Those who teach tithing from Hebrews 7 always stop before verse 12. The chapter is about the necessary change of the priesthood from Aaron to Christ. The change necessitated a change of the law which funded that priesthood from 7:5 and 7:12. The change was not "from Aaron to the Gospel worker." Rater the change was from Aaron to the "annulment" of the law from 7:5 which included tithing.

Keith: John Piper

Russ: I have refuted Piper's arguments on my web site under rebuttals.

Keith: Tithing is like a constant offering of the first fruits of the whole thing. The tenth is yours, O, Lord, in a special way, because all of it is yours in an ordinary way. I believe the tithe should be the first check we write after the income deposit is made in the bank.

Russ: This is selfish and greedy. It robs many of the money needed to buy medicine and essential food and shelter. It violates Paul's principle found in 1st Timothy 5:8. Most of all, it is unbiblical because tithes and firstfruits are NEVER the same thing in Scripture. See Deu 26:1-4 and Neh 10:35-37 for examples.

Keith: I do think that I can encourage tithing as a godly practice for Christians to follow in their giving, at least as a good place to start, which leads me to my next question.

Russ: Again you ignore the definition and purpose of the biblical tithe. If it was not the "good place to start" for OT Hebrews, then it cannot be so for Christians.
Keith: Although Christians are not commanded to tithe in the New Testament, we are certainly encouraged to give in proportion to what we have, to give self-sacrificially so long as we can do so with a cheerful heart, and to be encouraged to give by remembering that we cannot out-give God, who will always provide for us.

Russ: Agreed.

Keith: I think God took the focus off giving a tithe in the early church because he wants his people to ask themselves a new question. The question that Jesus drives us to ask again and again is not, "How much should I give?" but rather, "How much dare I keep?"

Russ: In early church history, this attitude led to extreme asceticism and, later, monasticism. They took Jesus' words to the rich young ruler literally.

Keith: By and large the Old Testament people of God were not a missionary people.

Russ: No tithes were ever used to send out missionaries to convert the Gentiles around them.

Keith: The task he gave us is so immense and requires such a stupendous investment of commitment and money that the thought of settling the issue of what we give by a fixed percentage (like a tenth) is simply out of the question.

Russ: Then what is the purpose of this article? You can teach NT giving without mentioning tithing.

Keith: My own conviction is that most middle and upper class Americans who merely tithe are robbing God.

Russ: You echo J. Vernon McGee but he opposed using the word "tithe."

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reply to Rina: Who Do You Think You Are

Who Do You Think You Are?

Rina: The Bible says, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house and try Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’” (Malachi 3:10).

Russ: The LITERAL context of the above verses is only addressed to national Israel under the Old Covenant as only one of over 600 commands --breaking ANY brought a curse per Galatians 3:10. In the texts the tithe is still only food from inside Israel and, sicne the definition never changed, then noen of us can really tithe today (and neither did Jesus, Peter or Paul).

Rina: God is not just talking about financial blessings but also spiritual ones.

Russ: Sounds nice, but it is not biblical.

Rina: In essence, when we tithe, God will open heaven into our lives.

Russ: The context is the curses and blessings repeated by Malachi's audience in Nehemiah 10:29 wich repeats Deuteronomy 28:11, 12 and 23 which are totally ignored.

Rina: Hence, whatever is free to operate in heaven is free to operate in our lives because of our obedience to tithing.

Russ: God never commanded the Gentiles or the Church to tithe in the New Covenant after Calvary. The entire Old Covenant, including tithing, VANISHED in Hebrews 8:13.

Rina: When we step out in faith and give away money we put confidence in God’s promise.

Russ: We do not put confidence in any part of the law. Believers are dead to the law per Romans 7:4.

Rina: When the promise is fulfilled in our lives, it breeds a greater desire to believe what God has promised.

Russ: Only post-Calvary promises are in operation today. God does not operate today using Old Covenant promises.

Rina: Faith leads to faith, or an increase in faith. Anytime we limit our ability for a greater belief in His ability, we will grow in our identity and receive spiritual blessing.

Russ: True, but Law-keeping does not lead to faith. Much better Grace principles of giving are found in 2nd Cor 8 and 9.

Rina: In the Bible, Jacob provides a great example of an individual who had great confidence in his own ability. He has a tremendous encounter with God that radically changes his life. The first change that he makes in his lifestyle is in the area of his finances. (Genesis 28:22)
Jacob was secure enough in God’s revelation of His character to put himself in a position of financial dependence on God.

Russ: No. He told God what to do. He set the conditions and parameters. This is not an example for Christians to follow. "God, if you bless me FIRST, then I will give to you."
Rina: The Apostle Paul understood this principle and he taught it to the Philippians. Paul writes, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.” (Philippians 4:17) Paul is saying, “Look, I don’t want your money, I want you to receive the spiritual and physical benefits of a radically generous lifestyle.” This principle was honored by God in the life of Cornelius.

Russ: Tithing is totally OUT of the picture with Paul. Nothing from defiled pagan dust could be offered as a holy tithe. Paul gave sacrificial freewill offerings. WE cannot tithe a biblical tithe.
Rina: Cornelius is in prayer and God fulfills His promise and “opens heaven” over Cornelius. An angel appears to him and says, “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.” (Acts 10:31) It was because of his radical generosity in making financial offerings (alms) that God chose him to be the first of the Gentiles to receive salvation and subsequent, baptism in the Spirit.

Russ: Again, tithing is NOT in the picture at all. Gentiles were not allowed to tithe. They were alllowed to give pagan money which would be cleansed by buring and exchanged in the Temple.

Rina: It’s one thing for us to seek God for an increase in anointing and it is quite another thing when God seeks after us because of our radical generosity.

Russ: This is a New Covenant giving principles which replaces tithing.

Rina: The Shunamite woman of the Old Testament, demonstrates this principle in her dealings with Elisha. She radically and generously used her resources to provide for the prophet and his servant. Because of her giving, the prophet seeks to impart something into her life. (2 Kings 4:14) Again, it is one thing to seek an impartation from a man of God but quite another when the man of God seeks you out because of your generosity.

Russ: There is not hint that the Shulamite woman tithes. Your examples do not support your premise.

Rina: Generosity, tithes, and offerings can ensure that we grow in our identity. It puts us in a position of faith to receive impartation from both God and His ministers. This transference will cause us to grow up in God. Subsequently, leaving behind our old identity.

Russ: Read the tithing statute/ordinance of Numbers 18 and tell me which of the tithing commands is followed by any Church today. NONE of them are. Does your pastor own or inherit property? If so, he/she is a tithe-breaker. 2 Cor 8:12-15 is good enough for all of us.

Russ Kelly