Friday, May 06, 2011

Rebuttal to Steven Britt on Tithing-2

Was Tithing Disannulled in Hebrews 7? Part 2 of Article Closed to Open Dialog

Steven Britt: Of course, they then pick and choose for themselves what they consider to be Old Covenant law!

Russell Kelly: This is a blatant lie and the very opposite is true. Mr. Britt is the one who “picks and chooses” that part of the Old Covenant which he personally thinks should be taught in the New Testament after Calvary without any use of consistent hermeneutics. Our hermeneutical foundation is consistent and literal: The Old Covenant was only given to Israel. (2) That part of the Old Covenant which also applies to the Church has been repeated to the Church in terms of the New Covenant after Calvary.” (3) “What,” we ask, “is your hermeneutic if not ‘pick and choose’?”

Steven: After a careful analysis of this chapter, I'll show in a broader sense that neither tithing nor any other part of the law of God has ever been "disannulled" in the sense that it is no longer in effect, as so many today want you to think.

Russ: You waste a lot of words. Just do it. Just say it. Stop beating around the bush.

Steven: For starters, let's review the anti-tithing argument in question. It goes as follows: Hebrews 7 is the only place in the bible after Christ's death that tithing appears, and it refers to tithe as a commandment and law in verse 5.

Russ: The argument is that Hebrews 7:5 is the first text in Hebrews where the words “commandment,” “tithes,” and “law” appear. Other than that, your statement is literally true in God’s Word.

Steven: Then Hebrews 7:12 says that the law has changed because the priesthood has changed,

Russ: The priesthood was literally changed from the Aaronic to the Melchozedek-Christ. Verses 12-18 point out very strongly that the Melchizedek priesthood was not based on Old Covenant law which established and sustained the Aaronic priesthood by tithes and other offerings.

Steven: and verse 18 says that the commandment is disannulled.

Russ: You are manipulating the text. It says that “There is a disannulling of the commandment going before.” And, in literal context, that “commandment going before” must at the very least include tithing from 7:5.

Steven: Therefore, the commandment and law that are "disannulled" in Hebrews 7 are the laws of tithing,

Russ: While the “commandment going before” in 7:5, 18 specifically included tithing, it must have included all statutes-ordinances which had been legislated for the Aaronic priesthood, including Numbers 18.

Steven: and Christians are no longer required to tithe like people did in the Old Covenant.

Russ: This is manipulation. (1) Christians never were required to tithe. (2) Only food producers who lived inside Israel were ever required to tithe. Even Jews who lived outside Israel and/or were not food producers could not tithe. (3) While the OT laws of tithing were very limited, NT post-Calvary giving principles are very widespread and make much more sense. Tithing limited giving to HOLY food from God’s HOLY land.

Steven: Hebrews 7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,
7:2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all...
7:3 … remains a priest continually.
7:4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils.
7:5 And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; 7:6 but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.

The Old Covenant established the Levites as a tribe of priests and appointed them to receive the tithes from the rest of those under the covenant - the other 11 tribes of Israel.

Russ: Correct.

Steven: Is tithing the central issue here? No. Tithing is being used as a device to show that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham. Therefore, since Abraham is greater than Levi, Melchizedek is greater than Levi:

Russ: Correct.

Steven: Hebrews 7:7 Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better.
7:9 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak,
7:10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

The sole purpose of mentioning tithes is to demonstrate that Melchizedek is greater than Levi since tithes are given from the lesser to the greater.

Russ: Correct.

Steven: 7:11 Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?

Now it should become clear: the author of Hebrews is showing the insufficiency of the Levitical priesthood and the need for a greater priesthood.

Russ: Correct.

Steven: Now that we are in the proper mindset, we have come to the infamous verse 12, the verse that anti-tithers say "changes" the law of tithing:
7:12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.
7:13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.
7:14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.

We have now come to the heart of the matter: Christ is a priest, but He did not come from the tribe of Levi - He was from the tribe of Judah. The law only allowed Levites to be priests. Therefore, what change of the law is being discussed? The law which states that only Levites can be priests! There is absolutely NO indication from the context that a change in tithing is being discussed!

Russ: Wrong. You are jumping the gun. You still have verses 13-19 to go. [At the end of the article you argue that no part of the law has ever changed.]

7:15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest

It we stopped here, we could only conclude that the Old Covenant law of Israel did not allow for priests to come from the tribe of Judah. You are trying to “change” the OT law from “giving tithes to priests from Levi” to “giving tithes to a priests from Judah.

Steven: But we still have one more verse to go: the infamous "disanullment" in verse 18. Let's see what we make of that statement now that we understand the point that is being made:’’

Russ: No. You still have verses 16-17 before reaching verse 18.

7:16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life.

Verse 16 takes the discussion out of the possibility of law-tithes supporting a priesthood from Judah. In fact, it takes the discussion out of the Old Covenant law altogether. The new principle is not a new law of tithing, rather it is a law-principle of Christ’s priesthood being supported by eternal moral principles.

7:17 For He testifies: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

Christ’s priesthood is not based on the historical qualifications of the historical Melchizedek to be a priest in Israel (which are none). Rather it is based on his “office” or “rank” or “title” of a KING-PRIEST; that is what “order” means.

Steven: 7:18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness,

'Notice that the "former commandment" was annulled "because of its weakness and unprofitableness," … The fleshly commandment is, again, the one that states that only the sons of Aaron could be priests.

Russ: No. Read 7:5 again. The “former commandment” was “They that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law.”

Steven: … because Christ came as a priest "according to the power of an endless life" rather than "according to the power of a fleshly commandment."

Russ: Rather than replacing one with another, your faulty logic interprets “according to the power of an endless life" IN THE CONTEXT OF "according to the power of a fleshly commandment." This is illogical. Your “power of an endless life” principle is now working within the context of a changed law of tithing; the “change” was from a “fleshly commandment” to being incorporated into an eternal life.

Steven: Now that we understand what Hebrews 7 is saying, let's answer the argument that I posed in the beginning.

Russ: You have manipulated the literal meaning of the text to agree with your point.

Steven: The only law or commandment that is specifically addressed for the purpose of being changed or annulled is the commandment that states that priests had to be from the tribe of Levi.

Russ: This is nowhere in Hebrews 7, yet it is your only argument.

Steven: It cannot in any way be construed as indictment of tithing in particular!

Russ: Again, the only commandment specifically mentioned “in particular” is that of tithing in 7:5.

7:19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

This refers to all of the Law, not just tithing. All of the Old Covenant ended at Calvary per Heb 8:13; Rom 10:4 and Gal 3:23-26.

Steven: Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
5:18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

Heaven and earth have not passed away - and neither has one word of God's law.

Russ: You have a whole lot of explaining to do here. (1) I ask you again to define the way you use the word “law.” In Mt 5:18-48 Jesus used it to mean the “whole law” –all the commandments, all the ceremonial worship statutes-ordinances and all the judicial civil laws. (2) If you are attempting to limit Jesus’ words to the moral law, you are greatly mistaken. (3) If you are attempting to say that none of the statutes-ordinances and judgments have ended, you are even more mistaken. (4) From a literal understanding of 5:18-19 it was either all of the law or none of the law. (5) From verse 5:20 it is clear that Jesus meant the “righteous requirements of the law” which He personally met.

Steven: Any "changes" are, as I stated, changes that uphold the spiritual intent of the law. Christ gave examples of these types of "changes" in the Sermon on the Mount: it's not sufficient to abstain from murder; rather, you can't even hate your brother in your heart. It's not sufficient to abstain from adultery; rather, you can't even look at a woman with lust.

Russ: You are manipulating God’s Word to make it say only what you want it to say. Jesus gave 6 examples and you neglect to discuss the 2 examples from the statutes and the 2 examples from the judgments. Shame on you for distorting God’s Word for your own benefit.

Steven: As a matter of fact, prophecy indicates that EXALTING the law was one of the purposes of the Messiah!

Isaiah 41:21 The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will exalt the law and make it honorable.

In the King James, the word "exalt" is translated as "magnify." The Hebrew word, according to Strong's, means "to make great, to cause to grow, to magnify."

Russ: Of course Jesus exalted the law; He exalted all three parts of equally. While living under the full jurisdiction of the law, it would have been SIN for Jesus to suggest changing any of it.

Steven: Not only has God's law not been abolished, annulled, abrogated, or whatever fancy language you want to use to say that it is "done away" - the fact is, Christ came to reveal the true spirit of the law, which is even greater and more honorable than the letter of the law.

Russ: The “fancy language” which proves that the law has been changed comes from God Himself. (1) The covenant changed from Old to New. (2) The high priesthood changed from Aaron to Christ. (3) The priests changed from Aaron’s family to that of every believer. (4) The Temple changed from a building to the body of the believer. (5) The sacrifices changed from many to one. (6) God’s people changed (at least temporarily) from Israel to the church. (7) And you personally keep on arguing (in error) that the ONLY change (though still a change) was from Aaron to Christ. Do you listen to yourself?

Steven: 5:19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Russ: The entire Old Covenant law ended at Calvary per Heb 8:8-13. The “least of these commandments” includes all of the statutes which spiritually ended at Calvary and all of the civil judicial laws which clearly physically when Israel ceased to be a nation.

Steven: In conclusion, as I stated from the beginning: God's commandment to tithe is NOT specifically targeted in Hebrews 7.

Russ: And, for the fourth or fifth time, you arrive at this conclusion by ignoring the literal connection between 7:5 and 7:18.

Steven: Furthermore, NONE of God's requirements have been weakened; rather, they have been magnified and made better, so that we might receive a better reward than in the Old Covenant.

Russ: Have you ever read the Law beginning in Exodus 21? How do you magnify the law which commanded Israel to KILL children who cursed or hit their parents? How do you make the law better which commanded Israel to send their wives out of the house for that special one week a month? Do you pierce the ears of your slaves? Do you worship at sunset on Friday?

Steven: In view of this fact, regarding tithing in particular, it is easily seen that there is no way to get off the hook as far as tithing goes. God's law is magnified in the New Covenant, and that includes the laws of tithing!

Russ: Since you have concluded that all of the law is still in effect and affects you the Christian, then you must literally obey the tithing statute of Numbers 18 and (1) tithe only HOLY food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel; (2) tithe only to Levites who are servants to the priests; (3) have Levites tithe only a tenth of the tenth they receive to the priests; (4) ignore the NT teaching that all believers are priests; and (5) KILL anybody who attempts to enter the sanctuary other than priests. Hey, you made the rule that the whole law is still in effect.

Steven: If you're still reading this, then you already know that I've said too much for one post.

Russ: Yes, you are becoming obnoxious.

Steven: My next post on debunking anti-tithing arguments will bring us to the next logical point, as I laid out in the Introduction: now that I've shown that tithing is still required by Christians, I will refute the notion that ministers in God's church are not qualified to receive tithes since they are not Levites.

Russ: I cannot wait. This is easier than taking candy from a baby. When are you going to do the right thing and open this up to a real discussion. What are you afraid of?


Russell Earl Kelly said...


I am somewhat amused to find this after randomly googling my name yesterday. I have absolutely no qualms with making this an open discussion - I've done this by allowing comments on my blog. On the other hand, you have been carrying on your end of the conversation in your own distant corner of the weberverse without informing me. I have little interest in responding to your rebuttals here blow-by-blow, but I would like to clarify a couple of points in which you are misrepresenting me.

1. From the first rebuttal that you posted, you criticized me for "blocking contrary comments" and insinuated that I must be afraid of having these discussions. As a matter of fact, I have blocked exactly one comment, and I did so only because the discussion was off-topic. And I warned the person beforehand... And I told them that they were welcome to come back and post it when I started the tithing series that I am now engaged in - but they haven't been back. This all began in an article entitled "Becoming a Tithe to God," the main point of which was to examine a connection between the imagery used to describe tithing with that of the imagery used to describe Passover. The focus of the article was not on whether Christians should tithe. After allowing and responding to several comments on whether Christians should tithe, I decided to begin the series that I am currently in the process of writing for the express purpose of having that discussion in the proper context so that it would not continue to detract from the "Becoming a Tithe" article. I gladly welcome criticisms on my blog as long as they are relevant to the discussion at hand. For example, see Tony Isaac's comments on my 2nd article in the series. Even though he goes off-topic (I made it clear that I wanted to keep the discussion limited to whether the law applies to Christians), I didn't block a single comment of his, which went through a similar barrage of anti-tithing arguments. As a matter of fact, I took his perspective as a opportunity to adjust my course in writing this series in order to try to cover even more relevant arguments.

2. You are in error when you say that I am trying to change the law that says "giving tithes to priests from Levi” to “giving tithes to a priests from Judah." I am consistently working on the premise that tithes are given to God, not to men, and that God chooses who will receive the tithes in His place. I began addressing this in the 3rd part of the series, which I posted last week, and I will continue expounding on it in Part 4 sometime next week.

3. I believe in the same law that is going to go out from Zion in the latter days as per Isaiah 2:3, the Torah. It's the same law that is written in my heart as per Jeremiah 31:33 (or Hebrews 8:10, as you seem to prefer). Yes, I have read the law and I am very aware of what it says. I do in fact observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. There is no need for me or anyone else to stone a Sabbath breaker: they are already dead in their transgressions according to the spirit of the law. The law is and always has been spiritual in nature rather than physical - this is why Paul spends so much time explaining what it means to walk "according to the Spirit." The carnal mind is enmity against God - it is not subject to the law of God, nor can it be - but God has called us to be spiritual.


Russell Earl Kelly said...

I tried to post twice and neither posting appeared. And you say the same is happening with my blog and you cannot sign in. Perhaps we are having the same technical problem.

You claim to be a Sabbath-keeper and a tither. I claim that both the Sabbath and the tithing Law have changed in the Bible and the Sabbath change in detailed on my web site,

Steven: I am consistently working on the premise that tithes are given to God, not to men, and that God chooses who will receive the tithes in His place.

Russ: So you think that God changed Abram’s pagan spoils tithe to the holy tithe of the land and then to income increase for Christians. I believe that Hebrews 7:5-12-18 says that it was annulled.

Steven: I believe in the same law that is going to go out from Zion in the latter days as per Isaiah 2:3, the Torah. It's the same law that is written in my heart as per Jeremiah 31:33 (or Hebrews 8:10, as you seem to prefer).

Russ: You really really really do not believe that the Torah is the “same law that is in your heart per Jer 31:33 and Heb 8:10. I dare say that you totally ignore most of that Torah Law. Unless you stay home and rest on the Sabbath, you are breaking the Torah Law and are causing millions of people to work contrary to that Law.

Steven: Yes, I have read the law and I am very aware of what it says. I do in fact observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

Russ: It is a good thing you do not live at the north or south pole. You would not be allowed to start a fire and would freeze to death. And when you crossed the International Date Line your day of the week would change. How do you explain Ex 31:13-17? The Sabbath cannot be a unique sign for Israel and also be expected from everybody else.

Steven: There is no need for me or anyone else to stone a Sabbath breaker: they are already dead in their transgressions according to the spirit of the law. The law is and always has been spiritual in nature rather than physical –

Russ: You are still changing the law in your application. Tell Moses not to stone Sabbath breakers. Allow your wife to stay home while in her cycle week. Do not wear clothes of mixed fabrics.

Steven: this is why Paul spends so much time explaining what it means to walk "according to the Spirit." The carnal mind is enmity against God - it is not subject to the law of God, nor can it be - but God has called us to be spiritual.

Russ: Paul understood that “law of God” meant “the revealed will of God” and that the God of the New Covenant has written what he expects man to do in his heart. News flash: worship in the heart; Sabbath is not. Giving is in the heart; tithing is not.

Russell Earl Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Britt said...

If the "law of God" in the New Testament were anything other than the "law of God" in the Old Testament, then the New Testament authors went to great lengths to hide that distinction when they had every opportunity to spell it out - especially in light of the fact that Jews were causing divisions in virtually every Gentile congregation over precisely this issue. If Paul or anyone else had clearly taught that the Old Covenant law was abolished then they would not have had these problems.

Furthermore, "staying at home to rest" on the Sabbath is not what is commanded, and it's certainly not what Christ did. A holy convocation is commanded, and Jesus clarified that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, contrary to the asceticism of the Pharisees which you seem to have taken up. The Sabbath is a sign of God's people - which was physical Israel and is now spiritual Israel. I find it funny that you criticize God's Sabbath law by posing questions about the arctic circle and international date line - when God hallowed the seventh day that He hallowed it everywhere, long before the existence of Israel.

I also find it odd that you refer to the "God of the New Covenant" as though He is not the same God.

"News flash: worship in the heart; Sabbath is not. Giving is in the heart; tithing is not."

God said the following about Isreal: "Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments." If Israel had the law in their hearts, then they would have kept the commandments given to them. The entire point of the New Covenant was to write God's law (the same commandments that He gave to Israel) on our hearts. If you claim that there is some other set of laws, then you must also claim that they belong to some other god, since the God revealed throughout the bible clearly stated what His law was and that He does not change.