Pastor Kent, City Church
Kent: “Prov 3:9-10 is about firstfruits and not tithing. Firstfruits were extremely small token offerings per Deu 26:1-4; Neh 1-:35-37 and many other passages. Do not confuse the two. Tithes are tenth-fruits.”
Tithing is the practice of giving "10% of your increase" as an offering to the Lord.
Kelly: True biblical holy tithes were always only food from inside God’s holy land of Israel which God had miraculously increased. Tithes could not come from what man increased, from Gentiles or from outside Israel. Although money was common in Israel, money was never a tithed item. Jesus, Peter and Paul could not tithe. Nobody actually tithes today. Period.
Kent: “Tithing is a pledge of trust.”
Kelly: The first biblical Levitical tithe was cold hard law to support the Levites and priests.
Kent: “Malachi 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this."
Kelly: (1) Malachi was addressed to Old Covenant Israel and not the church. (2)The tithe was still food 1000 years later. (3) The church was not the storehouse and did not legally have its own buildings for almost 300 years after Calvary. (4) The whole Law was a test per Gal 3:10. Obey all to be blessed; break one to be cursed. God does not bless murderers and adulterers because they tithe.
Kent: “What is the History of the Tithe? Although tithing (a.k.a., first-fruits) can be traced back to the Garden of Eden.”
Kelly: There is no mention of tithing in Eden. One tree out of many thousands does not constitute tithing.
Kent: “Levites and priests: Because of this task, the law forbade them from doing normal agricultural activity. In the Promised Land, they were designated to go to certain cities. … Originally, the tithe was a mechanism to keep a group of people in “full-time ministry” (Num. 18:21-32).”
Kelly: They only served one week out of 24 in the Temple. The remainder of the time was spent in the Levitical cities farming to raise tithed animals and learning essential trades for temple maintenance. They received the tithe because they were not allowed to inherit and own land. Today unscrupulous tithe-teachers receive tithes and own property.
Kent: “Deuteronomy 14:22 … Deuteronomy 14:28-29
Why would people resist the tithe now?
Kelly: Why do you not teach three tithes of 20-23% now?
Kent: “First of all, it’s important to note that tithing pre-existed the Mosaic Law.”
Kelly: These do not qualify as HOLY biblical tithes as taught in Malachi and by Jesus. They were unclean unholy pagan products given in response to the law of the land.
Kent: “Even if certain tithing practices ceased, the concept of "first-fruits" is still found all throughout the Old and New Testaments.”
Kelly: Again, tithes were never the same as firstfruits. See First Timothy 5:8 for Christian priorities.
Kent: “Secondly, Jesus did advocate tithing in Matthew 23:23. In this context, Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocritical teachings on tithing. So he says: “You should practice the former [tithing] without neglecting the latter [justice].” Many scholars take this to be a clear affirmation of tithing, so long as it is stewarded in a holy and just manner.”
Kelly: You are a dishonest Bible manipulator! The text is a discussion of pre-Calvary Old Covenant “matters of the law.” It is addressed to “you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites” and not the church. It would have been illegal and SIN for Jesus to teach his disciples to tithe to himself.
Kent: “Even more, the context of Christ's sermon in Matthew 6 was clearly a "first-fruits" teaching.”
Kelly: Matthew 6:38 was about freewill sacrificial giving.
Kent: “But, for me, the most convincing evidence comes from the historical writings of the early church fathers.”
Kelly: You insult the intelligence of true Bible scholars. Dr. David Croteau (Liberty University) recently published his PHD thesis, You Mean I Don’t Have to Tithe? On pages 271-275 he lists Clement of Rome, The Didache, Justin Martyr, Origen, Epiphanius and Tertullian as negative or opposing tithing while Irenaeus, Cyprian and Constantine were ambiguous. Of all the early church fathers before the 4th century, only Clement of Alexandria supported tithing.
Kent: “The Apostles obviously discipled many people before they died.”
Kelly: There is absolutely no historical evidence of this. In fact Acts 15 militates very much in the opposite direction.
Kent: And thankfully, many of these disciples wrote about what they learned. Thus, some of the best commentaries on scripture can be found in the writings of the people who were virtual contemporaries of the Apostles themselves. Of course, their writings are not scripture; but, these people give us some profound context to what the Apostles actually taught.
Kelly: Give some references here or retract your statement.
Kent: For example, Irenaeus was a disciple of the Apostle John & Polycarp. He wrote that “systems of giving like tithing never ceased to be taught” ...but that the focus was not on "what's the minimum amount the Bible commands us to give."
Kelly: This is dishonest. It is NOT what Irenaeus wrote at all. It is a pro-tithing commentary on Irenaeus.
Kent: Rather, he writes: “Instead of being taught the tithe, we were taught to give all our possessions...” (See Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-36).
Kelly: See Croteau’s much more detailed quote on pages 12-13 or look it up yourself in Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, 4.13 and 4.13.3 (ANF 1.477) and 4.18.2 (ANF 1.485. He also wrote “but those who have received liberty set aside all their possessions for the Lord’s purposes.” Irenaeus’ focus was on Christians giving abundantly. Irenaeus also believed that Acts 2:44-45 was morally binding. It must not be forgotten that the chief thrust of the early church fathers was extreme asceticism as a way to be holy before God. Generally tithing was seen as a Jewish tradition to be replaced with sacrificial giving.
Kent: Other historical writings show that the Apostles taught tithing as a "starting point" for those whose faith was too weak to give more than 10%.
Kelly: Where? Which ones say this? Produce the documentation. Are you willing to follow these same authors into asceticism and later monasticism?
Kent: Finally, imagine if someone walked up to you and said, "Man, I wish my neighbor was dead!" And you said: "Well, can I help you kill him?" A bit surprised, they respond: "Aren't you a passionate Christian?" And you say, "Yea, but I'm a New Testament Christian! I'm not 'under the law' anymore.
Kelly: Your paper tiger reveals your ignorance of how “law” works in God’s Word. Believe it or not, Gentiles and Christians NEVER WERE UNDER THE LAW. The Old Covenant Law was only commanded to Old Covenant Israel who was commanded NOT to share it (Ex 19:5-6).
Kent: (Pretending to quote his paper tiger opponents) I can steal, kill and commit adultery now!"
Kelly: You fail miserably to understand that the “eternal moral law” as revealed by nature and conscience is written in the hearts and conscience of every man and underlies the Mosaic Law per Romans 1:18-20; 2:14-16. That law contains 9 of the 10 commandments and NOT tithing.
Kent: You see, just because something was taught in the Old Testament doesn't mean it's not applicable in the New.
Kelly: What is you consistent hermeneutic when deciding exactly what does apply in the New? Please state it clearly. Here is mine: That which God wants the Church to obey has been REPEATED in the New Covenant after Calvary in terms of grace and faith. The “thou shalt nots” of the Law are now commands that he new creation in Christ will naturally obey per Romans 8:2.
Kent: Not all of the Mosaic Covenant was "nullified," only the ceremonial parts of it.
Kelly: No. All of it was nullified for Israel as the Old Covenant. Just as ALL British Law ended in 1776 for the colonies, the GOOD parts of it were re-incorporated into the New Constitution. The New Covenant completely replaced all of the Old Covenant as a covenant of works. See Heb 7:5, 12, 18 concerning tithing. Heb 8:8-13.
Kent: Basically 3 aspects of the Mosaic Law exist: The Moral Law (good things to do all the time), Ceremonial Law (symbolic things, like animal sacrifice which applied until Christ came), and Civil Political parts of the Law (which existed as long as Israel was both a church and nation state.) Only the latter two were technically "nullified."
Kelly: No Jew would agree with this. If you read Deuteronomy you will find all three so closely intermingled that they cannot and must not be separated. It was ALL the Law or none of it per Mt 5:18-19 as illustrated by Mt 5:20-48.
The moral law is found very much in the Levitical worship commands and in the judicial commands. Unless you are a slave owner who worships on Saturday, you are not keeping the Sabbath command. And, unless you want your children to live long in the land of Israel, you are not following another. Jesus quoted Leviticus 19:10 and Deut 6:4 as moral laws.
Kent: And, in light of the above evidence, I think it takes quite a bit of ignorance to simply denounce the doctrine of first fruits with a simplistic "New Covenant" argument.
Kelly: It takes even more ignorance to keep referring to tithing as firstfruits. That is your way of manipulating and threatening the disabled in your church to give you the first ten per cent of their disability check and skip the medicine and food they need even more. This is what I call robbing God and extortion.
Kent: But, it still begs the question: What do I think about all of this? In light of the evidence, it's pretty hard to argue that tithing "has no place" in the New Testament.
Kelly: You have not produced any arguments from the New Testament after Calvary.
Kent: After all, there's a lot of historical evidence that shows first century New Testament churches continuing to teach tithing as a starting point for giving.
Kelly: Still waiting for some references.
Kent: The Bible couldn't be more clear that we are to "9) Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10) then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine" (Proverbs 3:9-10).
Kelly: Still not a tithing text.
Kent: In other words, God wants to be first in every area.
Kelly: Read First Timothy 5:8.
Kent: And Jesus repeated this theme during His famous financial message in Matthew chapter 6: Jesus taught we cannot serve both God and money. Thus, He finally says: "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you" (Mt. 6:33). God wants to be first in every area of our lives. Our time, our money, and our resources are technically His.
Kelly: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” simply means “Seek Christ who is God’s righteousness. Get saved.” You make it all about money.
Kent: "First fruits" is merely an expression that means: "God reserves for Himself a portion of everything we have."
Kelly: You are wearing out that misapplied text. Consider this. In the Old Testament God also still owned everything. Right? However, He only accepted legitimate tithes from FOOD which He had miraculously increased from inside His own land. Now how do you explain that?
Kent: For example, the birthday boy gets the first piece of cake (first-fruits). He's the first to eat it. AND, he usually gets the "best piece" (usually the one with all the frosting on it :). In the same way, God demands that we give Him a "first-fruits" of everything we possess.
Kelly: If that were true, then why did not God tell the Gentiles in the Old Testament to bring tithes?
Kent: In fact, this theme of "first fruits" runs through the whole Bible. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve the ability to eat from any tree. Yet, He kept a particular tree for His own.
Kelly: You are proving my point. Firstfruits is a very small token offering and not tithes. One tree out of thousands is not tithing.
Kent: God wanted to produce fruit through our cultivation that He claims as His own (first-fruits).
Kelly: It was not holy because man cultivated it. It was only holy because God gave the increase only from inside His holy land. How do you explain that?
Kent: Again this theme shows up in Cain and Able. In some ways, even the Sabbath day is a first-fruits idea (as the Sabbath was the first day of the week). God wanted the first part of every week to be devoted toward Himself.
Kelly: This is really warped. The Sabbath was the SEVENTH day of creation and the SEVENTH day of the week for Israel to rest after working all week.
Kent: The big idea is this: Tithing is nothing more than an application of the "first fruits" principle. And this principle really asks: "Is God first in our finances?" And when we ask this question, it forces us to go far beyond the grotesquely simple question: "Is God calling me to give 10% or not?"
Kelly: Tithes and firstfruits are still not the same. Neh 10:35-38.
New Covenant post-Calvary Holy Spirit blessed giving is: freewill, generous, sacrificial, joyful, not by commandment or percentage and motivated by love for God and lost souls. Our God is a New Covenant God operating on New Covenant principles of giving.