Thursday, April 08, 2010

Reply to Hank Scott, The Plain Truth

Hank Scott (PT)

Hank: Thanks for your input in regard to the Tithing article, but I see from your website that you already have an agenda to push, and have preset conclusions on the subject, having already published a book of your own ideas and thoughts on this subject.

Russ: Does this mean that you have no “preset conclusions on the subject” and that your blog was not designed to influence others towards your own conclusions?

Hank: Are you open to change, when proved wrong?

Russ: I am always open to being persuaded by sound arguments from God’s Word. I have embarrassingly been a Southern Baptist, Church of Christ, Independent Baptist, Seventh-day Adventist, Methodist, Southern Baptist and Independent Baptist. How many times have you changed your theology?

Hank: There are several fallacies in your approach to what scripture reveals about tithing.

Russ: That is what I want. An extended in-depth debate using sound biblical hermeneutics.

Hank: The first is the typical Christian fallacy that "Old Testament" means not in force in these "New Covenant" times. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Russ: I see no texts which command the Church to obey the Old Covenant as it was written to Old Covenant Israel. Do you have any? That which God wanted the Church to obey after Calvary in the New Covenant has been clearly repeated in terms of grace and faith.

Hank: Take sacrifices, for instance. While it is true that the lack of a priesthood officiating at the Temple in Yarav-salem today makes these laws unnecessary at this moment in time, since this would be an impossibility, the idea that the Savior's sacrifice did away with the need for all sacrifices for all time is clearly flawed and false in view of future prophecies of the Savior's return and the establishment of His Kingdom here on earth (cf. Ezekiel 43-46, for instance).

Russ: I understand Ezekiel’s Temple to take place during the (1000 year) Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth. The sacrifices are not for atonement for as memorial. And, in Ezekiel’s vision of the Temple the Levites and priests own land and tithes are not mentioned. That is real cool.

Hank: Likewise, tithing is NOT a thing of the past, but is a present and future requirement for those who are obedient to their heavenly Father's will, just as the Savior was and still is.

Russ: And what texts tell you this? Everything about tithing in the past is gone: the covenant, the Temple, the priesthood, the Levitical cities, etc. Nothing about OT tithing and Numbers 18 is followed by any church today.

Hank: And tithing, though commanded specifically of agricultural produce and livestock in a almost entirely agrarian society, did not preclude tithing on other things, such as monetary income (unless your idea is the incorrect notion that only farmers and ranchers were required to support the Levitical priesthood).

Russ: Do a search of “money” and you will see that it was very common even before tithing was introduced. It was required for sanctuary worship. Your argument is weak. Tithes were from what God miraculously increased –not from what man made. And tithes could not come from outside Israel. Those are facts.

Hank: Tithes were the only income for the priests and Levites.

Russ: That common assumption is wrong. They received the tithes instead of land inheritance because they owned no land and were spread out among all tribes on loaned land to farm and feed tithed animals. According to 1st Chronicles 23 to 26 they had very many jobs in order to know skills to use in the temple.

Hank: But did all they need for their support consist solely of food? What about clothing and other daily necessities for them and their families? How else were these provided, other than by tithes and offerings?

Russ: There were 24 courses of Levites and priests living in 48 cities and they only worked in the Temple one week at a time. They had plenty of time to earn money as carpenters, sculptors, metal workers, bakers, guards and even political judges per 1 Chron 23 to 26.

Hank: (Just as Abraham tithed on everything of the spoils of war, to the priest Melchezidek; Genesis 14:20, who was neither a Levite nor a descendant of Aaron; Hebrews 7:4-6).

Russ: It was Abram a Gentile before he was circumcised. Nothing done by Abram is an example for Christians today: (1) only un-holy pagan spoils of war, (2) only once, (3) he kept nothing and (4) gave the 90% to the king of Sodom. Which of those do you follow?

Hank: The gathering of tithes into local cities was generally the second tithe, on the third and sixth years out of every seven (a sabbatical of years), for the Levites, the poor, widows and strangers who could not always afford to go to the Feasts, so that they could also rejoice.

Russ: I disagree. The first Levitical tithe was brought to the Levitical cities according to Neh 10:37-39. The Temple was too small to hold the tithes of the nation and 98% of those who needed the tithe to eat lived in the Levitical cities.

Hank: And second tithes were commonly converted into currency for such events, which funds were used to celebrate the Feasts by those who lived too far to bring their flocks, agricultural and other tithes personally (Deuteronomy 14:22-29).

Russ: Correct.

Hank: How could Levi have collected the same tenth Abraham paid on everything, if all he could lawfully receive was agricultural tithes?

Russ: He didn’t. Abram’s tithe was UNHOLY pagan spoils of war. Levi’s tithe was HOLY from God’s hand form His holy land. That is why the Law did not use Abram’s tithe as an example.

Hank: Christianity's flawed and false point of view is too legalistic, in that they look to man's law to settle every matter, rather than to the spirit and intent of the Creator's law, even while hypocritically trying to denigrate and overthrow this law as supposedly having no significance in the Creator's purpose and plan for humanity now and into the future.

Russ: And how do you distinguish between the “Creator’s Law” for Old Covenant Israel and eternal moral law for everybody? The same law which required tithing to Levi also required Levi to Kill anybody who dared enter the sanctuary and worship God directly and it also required Levi NOT to own or inherit property.

Hank: The utterly heretical viewpoint, that the laws against idolatry and adultery, to take two key commandments, are now just archaic and unnecessary for us to obey today, because the Savior's sacrifice supposedly "fulfills" (or "abolishes") these laws, is anti-scriptural, and mistranslated nonsense!

Russ: You have a terrible concept of biblical law. The Old Testament Law was written as “Thou shalt nots” whereas the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ” says “a new creation in Christ WILL not” Rom 8:2. There is nothing heretical from changing the external moral parts of the Old Law from stone to the heart per Heb 8:8-13.

Hank: The actual meaning of the same word translated "fulfill" in "Matthew" 5:17, for instance -- everywhere else it occurs in the entire New Testament -- meant "to make replete" or carry out, even OBEY or execute, NOT bring to an end, finish or abolish (as Christianity has long misconstrued this word; while indulging in thoroughly pagan and forbidden practices, from Christmas to Easter, Halloween, etc.).

Russ: First, Matthew 5:19-48 is a discussion of all 600+ commands of the law including commandments, statutes and judgments. It is either all or none per Gal 3:10. How do you explain that? Second, “fulfill” is a theme of Matthew. Third, Jesus told the disciples on the Emmaeus Road that he had fulfilled what was written about him. I think you have far more trouble explaining Mt 5:17-18 than I do.

Hank: For instance, this same word is translated "might be filled" in relation to the knowledge of the Creator's will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1:9).

Paul knew that the Philippians could "fulfill my joy" by being likeminded, having the same concern and care, and being of the same spirit and purpose (Philippians 2:2).

Russ: It is proper hermeneutics to first look at how Matthew used the word. Why do you ignore those texts? Matthew alone uses "fulfilled" very often: virgin birth (1:22); out of Egypt (2:15); Rachel weeping (2:17); called a Nazarene (2:23); Gentiles’ great light (4:14); bear our infirmities (8:17); God’s Spirit on him (12:17); Israel blinded (13:14); teach in parables (13:35); triumphant entry (21:4); fulfill prophecies (26:54,56); 30 pieces of silver (27:9); lots for garment (27:35).

Hank: Paul also did not teach against the "Old Testament" laws, commandments, statutes and judgments, but rather taught the word of the Almighty One "in its fulness" (Colossians 1:25), which was the original purpose and intent of those laws.

Russ: You seriously misunderstand the New Covenant use of the Old Covenant law. Exodus 21:15, 17 commands parents to kill children who strike or curse them. That is part of the judgments you think are in full effect. Paul was clear about the OT law being replaced by the indwelling Spirit in Romans and Galatians.

Hank: But even today, Paul's writings are still twisted and distorted into saying something he never meant or intended (cf. II Peter 3:15-16).

In saying this, Peter said precisely what the intent was of this distorting of Paul's message, when he concluded: "be on your guard so that you might not be carried away by the error of LAWLESS men and fall from your secure position" (II Peter 3:17), all of which means that the "grace and knowledge of our Sovereign and Savior" (verse 18), is found only through and by the law, and never in spite of it.

Russ: Peter agreed with James in Acts 15 and 21 that Gentiles should not be under the Law of Moses. Why?

Hank: Justification (the forgiveness of sins), it is true, does not come about by obeying the law -- but solely through grace -- yet it is a grave mistake to then conclude that the law is superfluous, unnecessary or to be discarded entirely!

Russ: You statement is un-intelligible without a precise definition of what you mean by “law.” Is it only the moral law? Is it the commandments, statutes and judgments? Or is it only the commandments PLUS tithing? (which is a scam)

Hank: Why bother to forgive sins that "cannot now exist," if it be true the law is no longer expected to be obeyed? (cf. I John 3:4)

Russ: Before Christ the Law was a shadow standard of righteousness. Now Christ is the standard per John 16:8-9 and Heb 1:1-2.

Hank: If your stance is, apparently, to belittle and disparage the law -- without recognizing the "law" of which Paul wrote, as being no longer needed, was in fact the traditions added on top of the law and the tradition of circumcision, which originated with Abraham and not through Moses ….

Russ: You are so confused about the law that you interpret it as only “traditions added on top of the law and circumcision.”

Hank: -- then you must repent of this grievous error, or face the consequences for your sinful ways come Judgment Day!

Russ: All of this twisted logic in order to defend tithing. Amazing.


G. Casey said...

Russ, tithing and many aspects of the Old Testament Laws dealt with Temple life period. Apart from those specific Temple customs, the Law in this dispensationalism is not annulled..for it should indeed convict the flesh..where the person is left with no pride at all..thus grace is given. Law never makes a man convicts him though of wrong and ultimately reveals Christ. The punative measures (which is the letter of the Law) were dealt with at the cross that is why a brother should Paul exhorts restoring a brother to the Galatians instead falling back into the weak codes and regulations which doesn't make righteousness... positive legalism is too rampand often in some systematic theological constructs.

G. Casey said...

In otherwords in regards to laws on adultery and idolatry...a Christian needs to know what it looks like,to resist, and give credit to the empowering grace God gives. They are not gone in principle.

Russell Earl Kelly said...

G.Casey: Russ, tithing and many aspects of the Old Testament Laws dealt with Temple life period.

Russ: I do not agree. The laws covered almost everything the Hebrew did from dawn to dust and from birth to death.

G. Casey: Apart from those specific Temple customs, the Law in this dispensation is not annulled.

Russ: When the US signed the Declaration of Independence the entire English Law (good and bad) was annulled. We are New Covenant believers under New Covenant principles. The “Thou Shalt Nots” are now “You will obey” as new creations indwelled by the Holy Spirit per Romans 8:2.

G. Casey: .for it should indeed convict the flesh..where the person is left with no pride at all..thus grace is given. Law never makes a man convicts him though of wrong and ultimately reveals Christ.

Russ: I urge you to define how you use the word “law.” If you do not do so, then you are unintelligible. The moral law is interwoven throughout the Old Testament.

Casey: The punitive measures (which is the letter of the Law) were dealt with at the cross …

Russ: If you committed a minor sin or sin of ignorance you must go the Temple and priests with a sacrifice under the SATUTES. If you committed a major offence you must go to the judges under the JUDGMENTS. A law without punitive consequences is not a law at tall. It was either all or none.

Casey: … positive legalism is too rampant often in some systematic theological constructs.

Russ: When I became a Christian, I was bought with a price. The Spirit moved into His new temple of my body. When I abuse or misuse the temple of God, the Spirit punishes me.

Casey: In other words in regards to laws on adultery and idolatry...a Christian needs to know what it looks like, to resist, and give credit to the empowering grace God gives. They are not gone in principle.

Russ: Nobody says that the eternal moral laws ever left anywhere. They were removed as “Thou shalt nots” for national Israel and they were written into the conscience of the believer by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The discussion is about tithing. Tithing was part of the ceremonial cultic worship laws of the statutes and ordinances. Tithing was an inheritance of the Levites and priests in lieu of land ownership and inheritance. Tithing was not imposed on New Covenant Christians who were themselves priests of God.