Reply to City Fellowship, Union Square, NYC
CF: Read on if you dare!
Kelly: O. K. I will read on and I dare you to give biblical rebuttal to my replies if you can prove them in error.
CF: The gospel life says everything I have belongs to God to do what He will.
Kelly: That was also true in the Old Covenant but God (even then) still only accepted HOLY tithes from inside His HOLY land of Israel.
CF: The main way the people in the Bible showed this was by “Tithing.”
Kelly: Wrong. The only people in the Old Covenant who qualified as tithers were food producers who lived inside Israel. Tithes could not come from what man increased or from outside Israel. Because of the law of double-inheritance most were pushed off the land within 4 generations and either worked for relatives as day-laborers or moved to the cities and learned non-tithe-able trades.
CF: Tithing means devoting the first 10% of everything you make to God.
Kelly: This is a great lie. True biblical HOLY tithes were always only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel which He had miraculously increased. What Gentiles make or earn outside of Israel cannot possibly be tithed. There are 16 texts to validate what the contents of the tithe are.
CF: Early Christians actually gave way more than 10% – whenever there was a need, a famine, something that required people who had to help those who had less – they gave.
Kelly: Early Jewish Christians in Judea still tithed to the Temple system per Acts 21:20-21. Early Christians outside Judea gave sacrificial freewill offerings per 2 Cor 8 and 9. This was not tithing. There is not a single reputable church historian who will attest that the early church even attempted to teach tithing for over two centuries after Calvary.
CF: How much did they give? Mother Theresa was right when she suggested people should “give until it hurts.” People gave enough so that it cut into their lifestyle. So that they could symbolically share the burden with those in need. But this is different from the Tithe.
CF: The tithe was the amount that went to serve the Temple.
Kelly: Correct. It was carried first to the Levitical cities per Neh 10:37b and Levites and priests brought to the Temple what they needed per Neh 10:38 and Mal 3:10.
CF: … and in the early church (tithing was to) support the teaching ministry and send people like Paul to places where he could preach Jesus’ message.
Kelly: Wrong. The first century Christians admitted that the tithe belonged exclusively to the Levites and priests from the Old Covenant.
Paul boasted about being mostly self-supporting and encouraged other elders to follow his example in 1 Cor 9:12-19 and Acts 20:29-35. There is not a single text in context to validate your statement. As a rabbi Paul had been taught that it was wrong to be paid to preach the Gospel. OT tithes were never used to send out missionaries.
CF: … We don’t want a dime of your money if it’s for the wrong reason.
Kelly: Then you want sacrificial freewill offerings and not tithes because they were only ordained to support Levites, priests, Jewish festivals and the poor (20-23%) under the Old Covenant. And Levitical tithe recipients were not allowed to own or inherit property.
Christians are commanded to give freely, sacrificially, generously, regularly, joyfully and with the motivation of love for God and man. The following New Covenant free-will principles are found in Second Corinthians 8 and 9: (1) Giving is a "grace.” These chapters use the Greek word for "grace" eight times in reference to helping needy saints. (2) Give yourself to God first (8:5). (3) Give yourself to knowing God’s will (8:5). (4) Give in response to Christ’s gift (8:9; 9:15). (5) Give out of a sincere desire (8:8, 10, 12; 9:7). (6) Do not give because of any commandment (8:8, 10; 9:7). (7) Give beyond your ability (8:3, 11-12). (8) Give to produce equality. This means that those who have more should give more in order to make up for the inability of those who cannot afford to give as much (8:12-14). (9) Give joyfully (8:2). (10) Give because you are growing spiritually (8:3-4, 7). (11) Give because you want to continue growing spiritually (9:8, 10-11). (12) Give because you are hearing the gospel preached (9:13).