REPLY TO PASTOR LEE CADENHEAD, RIDGE ROAD BAPTIST CHURCH BY RISSELL E KELLY, July 22, 2010
Lee: I’ve learned that money answers all things and that what a man does with his money is related to his spirituality and his love for God.
Kelly: Money does not answer all things. Look at our leaders now. They keep throwing money at worthless causes in the dream that we can spend our way out of debt. The poorest church members are often the best workers.
Lee: (1 Cor 16:1-2) Our giving should be through the local church (“to the churches” v. 1). Not television ministries, not parachurch ministries, not ecclesiastical organizations.
Kelly: This passage is only a discussion of emergency funding for famine relief. Paul does not command anybody NOT to support para-church ministries.
Lee: Our giving should be systematic (“let everyone of you lay by him in store” v. 2).
Kelly: Many commentaries say this mean “at home.” The early church was illegal and did not have legal buildings for over 300 years.
Lee: Our giving should be proportionate (“as God hath prospered him” v. 2). If you have more you should give more.
Kelly: Correct. This is in compliance with 2nd Corinthians 8:12-14 and the equality principle.
Lee: The Concept of Tithing
Not a New Testament Command: If you’re an honest dispensationalist then you’ll readily admit that tithing is not an overt New Testament instruction. We’re under grace as opposed to law and as such there’s no compulsion when it comes to giving and that includes a tithe.
Kelly: If you are an honest Bible student you will admit that true biblical HOLY tithes are always only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel which God had miraculously increased. Tithes cannot come from what man increased or from outside Israel. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithers. Money was essential for sanctuary worship but was not tithed. NT giving for the Church after Calvary is primarily sacrificial.
Lee: However, tithing is an Old Testament practice that satisfies each one of these New Testament principles, so it is a tool that NT believers should use to discipline themselves to give.
Kelly: This is dishonest. You add the word “overt” in order to re-introduce tithing via the back door. It isn’t but it is. It doesn’t apply but it does. You end up with tithing PLUS. You ignore First Timothy 5:8 and tell church members to give their first tenth to the church instead of buying essential medicine, food and shelter for their families.
Lee: A Great Place to Start: However, tithing is simply a starting for place the New Testament believer. Because we’re not under the Law, the tithe is a lousy place to stop.
Kelly: This is a false premise because it is based on a false assumption that everybody in the Old Covenant was required to BEGIN giving at 10%. This actually only applied to food producers who lived inside Israel. It did not apply to carpenters, fishermen or tentmakers who worked inside Israel and it did not apply to anybody who worked outside Israel on defiled pagan soil.
Lee: If that Old Testament Jew could give ten percent of his livestock and his crops without having his sins taken away by the blood of Christ, without the certainty of heaven, and without the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit, than a tithe is the absolute least that we can do.
Kelly: This is poor logic because (1) all Hebrews did not tithe, (2) tithes did not apply to non-food producers and (3) Christians are not food-producers living inside God’s HOLY land of Israel under the Old Covenant. Nobody outside Israel could bring an acceptable tithe.
Lee: I’ve heard tithing described as “the training wheels of giving”.
Kelly: This is Randy Alcorn’s phrase. He repeats similar phrases ad nausea rather than quote non-existent texts.
Lee: Missions (Phil 4:14-19, 2 Cor 8:1-12) Giving to Missions: The Philippians are Supporting a Missionary
Kelly: The above texts have nothing to do with tithing. They are freewill giving texts. Since Old Covenant tithes were never used to support a single missionary to convert Gentiles, then there is no pattern to follow for mission work.
Lee: … It’s only after they’re sent out by the church at Antioch that they’re referred to as apostles (Acts 4:4).
Kelly: As an educated Rabbi under Gamaliel, Paul had been trained NOT to be paid for full time gospel work. The rabbis were self-supported and tithes only went to the Levites and priests. Paul would have considered it sin to accept that which had been given by God only to Levites and priests.
Lee: There’s a special Bible promise for those that give sacrificially to missions and missionaries (Phil 4:19).
Kelly: Yes, but this is a freewill giving principle. Tithes were cold hard Law and must be given regardless of one’s attitude or demeanor.
Lee: (Phil 4:19) I have rarely heard this verse quoted in its context. It is not addresses to rich, selfish Americans in a media-induced recession, it is addressed to people who have given out of their poverty to support the work of the gospel.
Kelly: No. No. No. YOU are quoting it out of context. It is addressed to a church which was unique because it had members who had more disposable income than others. Philippi had a few rich persons who sent money to Paul occasionally because he was poor. Read Philippians 4:15 and 1 Cor 16:17.
Lee: There are enough churches doing little to nothing to support missions that we need to be sure to do all that we can to make up for their lack (Phil 2:30, 4:15).
Kelly: True, but that does not legitimize tithing.
Lee: We take the concept of Faith Promise giving from Second Corinthians chapter eight.
Kelly: This has nothing to do with tithing.
Lee: By faith you make a promise.
Kelly: Israel paid tithes by command enforced by threat of the curse of the Law.
Lee: It’s not complicated. Most people purchase or rent a home or buy a car on the same principle. You agree to pay so much every so often to live in that house or drive that car and you do so by faith.
Kelly: No. You do so because your accountant says you have enough regular income to pay your bills. Otherwise you are irresponsible. You might have faith that you keep your job and stay healthy though.
Lee: The church at Corinth made a promise to give so much to the relief of the saints a year prior to Paul arranging for its collection.
Kelly: This is freewill giving –not tithing.
The dispensational hermeneutic is: That part of the Law which is moral and eternal has been repeated after Calvary for the Church in terms of the New Covenant. Tithing was not repeated.