Review of Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D. by Russell E Kelly, Ph. D.
FEENEY: Acts 20:33 [The apostle Paul said] I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold.
KELLY: You missed the point. In 3 years at Ephesus Paul had not asked for ONE PENNEY of support. Not only had he been totally self-supporting but he also supported those in his group. He very definitely was not asking for offerings –much less tithes!
FEENEY: It is never our intent at South Valley Church to covet your finances.
KELLY: In Acts 20:29-35 Paul commanded church elders to work and care for the needy in their churches. He quoted Jesus to back up his point
FEENEY: But there is an area of finances that we do covet — that is, that the Lord receive his tithe.
KELLY: There is not a single text after Calvary for the Church to tithe. In the OT the Levites and priests received the first tithe.
FEENEY: Leviticus 27:30, 32 A tithe of everything from the land...BELONGS TO THE LORD... The tenth (ten percent) of our gross increase belongs to the Lord.
KELLY: The text defines HOLY tithes as only food from inside God’s HOLY land which God had miraculously increased. Tithes could not come from what man produced, from Gentiles or from outside Israel.
FEENEY: Wealthy Abraham, the first great patriarch of Israel, gave tithes centuries before Moses’ Law (Genesis 14).
KELLY: Why did Abraham tithe pagan spoils of war? The Bible does not say that God commanded it or that he gave it freely. In the context of 14:21 he was obeying the law of the land which REQUIRED tithes of spoils of war to one’s local king-priest.
FEENEY: Poor Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, gave the tithe, also before the Law — Genesis 28:22 “And of all that you give me I will give you a TENTH.”
KELLY: Quote the entire text. This was Jacob the supplanter telling God what to do as part of a freewill vow. His tithe was not a holy tithe of the law.
FEENEY: In the Law that God gave through Moses to God’s people, there were clear commandments to give tithes —
KELLY: Only to Old Covenant national Israel. And Israel was commanded NOT to share its covenant with the Gentiles.
FEENEY: Leviticus 27:30, 32 A tithe of everything from the land...belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the Lord. ... The entire tithe of the herd and flock — every tenth animal ... — will be holy to the Lord.
KELLY: Only FOOD increased from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel. Tithes could not come from defiled pagan land.
FEENEY: Ten lambs born? They gave the Lord one. Ten bushels of wheat harvested? They gave the Lord one. They tithed — that is, they gave ten percent — on the "gross" increase.
KELLY: “They” were farmers and herdsmen who lived inside Israel. “They” were not Gentiles or craftsmen.
FEENEY: My tithe “belongs [not to me, but] to the Lord.”
KELLY: Unless your are an Old Covenant Hebrew living inside Israel and producing food, then YOU cannot tithe. You may give 10% of your income, but that is not a true biblical tithe.
FEENEY: 1,500 years after Moses received the Law, Jesus REAFFIRMED in His day the validity of tithing:
Matthew 23:23 Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! YOU GIVE A TENTH of your spices — mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, WITHOUT NEGLECTING THE FORMER.
KELLY: Jesus was living under the jurisdiction of the Law and was discussing MATTERS OF THE LAW. The tithe went to the Levites and not to Jesus. Jesus could not tell his Jewish or Gentile disciples to tithe to him because it would have been sin to do so. Mt 23:23 is still Old Covenant before Calvary (Gal 4-5).
FEENEY: Later in the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians, ch. 9, the apostle Paul teaches on the financial support of the work of God and uses commands from Moses’ Law as guidelines — 1 Corinthians 9:8
KELLY: This would have been the perfect time to clearly teach on tithing and Paul did not.
FEENEY: "Doesn’t the Law say the SAME thing?" (referring to how the priests lived on the tithes and offerings). Paul brought the principle of the Levitical tithe — "the SAME thing" — over to the support of New Testament ministry.
KELLY: The argument is self defeating because it would force the church to copy “IN THE SAME WAY” ALL of the types of support of the Levitical system and not merely tithing. The “principle” from 9:7 to 9:14 is that each vocation has its own principles of support. The Christian principle is “grace and faith” – not law.
FEENEY: Should Christians tithe? The words of both Jesus and Paul seem clearly to bring tithing into New Testament times.
KELLY: No. Christians cannot tithe even if they wanted to do so. And the tithing STATUTE of Numbers 18 required Levitical tithe-recipients to forfeit property ownership. That is ignored too.
FEENEY: In the history of the New Testament Church since the first century, biblical tithing has been commonly, although not universally, taught and practiced.
KELLY: There is no record of any kind of tithing taught in the early church for at least 200 years after Calvary and even Cyprian’s attempt failed. Tithing did not become legally enforced in the Church for over 700 years. Even then it was only food off church-owned property.
FEENEY: In fact, tithing was a common religious practice in many nations in the ancient world.
KELLY: This proves that pagans tithed spoils of war before Abraham was born. They also worshipped idols and sacrificed children. Being old and common does not make something eternal and moral.
FEENEY: 2 Chronicles 31:12 Then they FAITHFULLY brought in the contributions, tithes and dedicated gifts.
KELLY: Because the king had erroneously told them to bring it to Jerusalem it rotted in the streets. Read 31:15-19 where it was re-shipped back to the Levitical cities.
FEENEY: Tithing is an indicator of our FAITHFULNESS. It’s a weekly, semimonthly, or monthly opportunity to demonstrate to God your faithfulness and commitment to His work on earth.
KELLY: Texts? NT giving is: freewill, generous, sacrificial, joyful, not by commandment and motivated by love for God and lost souls (2 Cor 8 and 9).
FEENEY: Giving our "tenth" is an indicator of our GENEROSITY. And God takes notice of the attitude of generosity: “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
KELLY: Tithes were cold hard law and must be given by food producers inside Israel whether they desired to or not.
FEENEY: Numbers 18:21 I give to the LEVITES all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance IN RETURN FOR THE WORK THEY DO while serving at the Tent of Meeting.
KELLY: The Church does not obey a single tithing command found in Numbers 18. Levites, who received the first whole tithe, were NOT the ministering priests; they were the servants to the priests.
FEENEY: Biblical tithing allows God-called ministers to devote themselves fully to the Lord’s work.
KELLY: The Bible neither endorses nor discusses whether gospel workers should be full time.
FEENEY: Levites/priests in the Old Testament, fivefold ministers (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) in the New Testament.
KELLY: No. Modern Jews do not tithe because there is no temple or priesthood. Levites vaguely correspond to unpaid ushers, deacons, choir, musicians, etc. All NT believers are priests. Gospel workers more closely follow the example of OT prophets who were either self-supporting or lived off freewill offerings.
FEENEY: Malachi 3:8-10 "Will a man ROB GOD? Yet you rob me.” But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In TITHES AND OFFERINGS. (9)You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me.
KELLY: Malachi is addressed to Old Covenant Israel under the Law. According to Malachi 1:6; 2:1; 2:17 and Neh 13:5-10, “every priest in the nation” was stealing from God by keeping the best for themselves. Also, no born again adopted child of God can be cursed (Gal 3:10-13).
FEENEY: (10) Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.
KELLY: Only Levites and priests were required to do this per Neh 10:38-39.The people were commanded to bring their tithe to the Levitical cities per Neh 10:37b.
FEENEY: Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
KELLY: The whole law was a test –not merely tithing. Obey all to be blessed; break one to be cursed. Gal 3:10-13.
FEENEY: 6. Why do I believe in tithing (and giving offerings also)? I wouldn’t want to take a chance on God considering me a ROBBER!
KELLY: Robbers accept something which only belonged to OT Levites and priests. You rob God if you do not obey all the tithing law of Numbers 18 and own property.
FEENEY: 7. Why do I believe in tithing? Because God says He wants His “house” to be ABUNDANTLY supplied.
KELLY: The early church did not even have its own buildings legally until after AD325.
FEENEY: Why tithe? Because God says if I am faithful in tithes and offerings, He will open the windows of heaven and pour me out abundant blessings.
KELLY: God cannot and will not bless New Covenant believers because of their obedience to annulled Old Covenant conditional promises (Heb 7:5, 12, 18). Only “successful tithers” are paraded before the church pulpit while most that are not blessed sit quietly and wonder why they are cursed even after tithing.
FEENEY: Proverbs 3:9-10, KJV Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:  So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
KELLY: Firstfruits and tithes are never the same thing in the Bible. Firstfruits are very small token offerings per Deu 26:1-4; Neh 10:35-37a, etc, etc, etc.