Saturday, March 29, 2014

Reply to Tom Lovon on Tithing by Russell Kelly


Tom Lovorn, THD, Pastor, God’s Storehouse Baptist Church, Richmond


Reply by: Russell Earl Kelly, PHD; March 29, 2014


Tom Lovorn: The tithe was a law under the Old Covenant.


Russell Kelly: The holy tithe of the law, as the word is used by Moses, Malachi and Jesus, was always only food from inside holy Israel which God had miraculously increased (16 texts). Though money was very common even in Genesis, money is never included in 16 descriptions of the tithe. And the Law only applied to Hebrew food-producers who lived inside Israel.


TL: I still believe the tithe is the Lord's.


RK: “It is the LORD’s” comes from Leviticus 27:30-34 and clearly only refers to food from inside holy Israel. Abram and Jacob’s pagan sources would not have been accepted.


TL: In Genesis 14:20 God led Abraham to tithe before the Jews knew they were supposed to do it.


RK: There is no biblical evidence that Abram’s tithe (not Abraham) was either commanded (led) by God or given as a freewill offering. Archaeological evidence suggests it was the common law of the pagan land regarding spoils of war. It was not holy and was totally different from the Law.


TL: Also, in Genesis 28:22 Jacob promised to tithe before the law of the tithe was stated in Leviticus 27:30.


RK: Jacob the supplanter (not Israel) was bargaining with God; he told God what to do. His tithe came from pagan Syria and would not have been holy in the Law.


TL: And, Jesus told the Jews in Matthew 23:23 not to neglect the tithe.


RK: Jesus would have been sinning if He had commanded His Jewish disciples not to tithe. This is a discussion of “matters of the law” per Matthew 23:23 itself.


TL: I do not find where God has taken that back.


RK: Then you must observe the whole law of 600+ commands per Galatians 3:10 and Deuteronomy 27:26. You must give your first tithe to the Levite servants (guards, custodians, musicians, singers, treasurers) per Numbers 18:21-24; Neh 10:37b).


TL: If it was pleasing to him before he commanded Israel to tithe; it's surely a way for believers to acknowledge our stewardship today.


RK: You have invented this conclusion.


TL: If they had to tithe in the Old Testament, then our goal under grace ought to begin with the tithe and add what we can as we feel led.


RK: This error is repeated by almost all tithe-teachers. It is based on the false assumption that everybody in the OT was required to begin a level of giving at 10%. Yet, that was only true of Hebrew food-producers living inside Israel. It was not true for tradesmen, craftsmen, and fishermen.


TL: Although the New Testament does not command the tithe …


RK: Did the Holy Spirit forget to repeat such an important “principle”?


TL: … it teaches that all we have belongs to God (1 Corinthians 6:20).


RK: The OT teaches that God owns everything (Ps 24:1), yet even then He only accepted as HOLY tithes from inside His holy land which He increased.


TL: We are to give as God's Spirit leads us individually. That means we pray about how much to give and where to give.


RK: Please make up your mind! Is it a commanded law for the church or not? You want it both ways.


TL: Our guide for giving under our New Covenant is found in 1 Corinthians 16:2.


RK: Why did you ignore 16:1? This collection (of famine food) was neither for the local church nor for local salaries.


TL: There, we're taught to plan our giving and put it away until a worship gathering.


RK: No. It teaches to begin the week by “storing up” (probably at home) and physically bring it to Paul’s ship as soon as it arrives.


TL: Then, we should give as God has prospered us. Further, 2 Corinthians 9:7 says we should give joyfully from our hearts.


RK: True post-Calvary New Covenant giving is freewill, sacrificial and generous –not grudgingly or by commandment. You deny all of these by teaching that tithing is a commanded law which never ended.


TL: The Old Covenant said in Malachi 3:10 to bring all the tithes into the storehouse.


RK: 1000 years after Leviticus 27, the tithe is still only food. Malachi is addressed only to OT Israel (1:1) and specifically to dishonest priests (1:6; 2:1). It is probably in the context of Nehemiah 13:5-10 where the priests stole the tithe from the Levites and the Levites left. The “you” of Malachi 3:10 refers to the priests of 1:6; 2:1 and 2:17 to 3:7. Every priest in the nation was guilty (3:8-10).


TL: They only had 1 storehouse.


RK: Wrong. The Jerusalem Temple did not have a large storeroom which would hold the tithes of the nation (per Alfred Edersheim). According to Nehemiah 13:5 and 1 Kings 6:5-7, it had a large room (10’ x 20’)— large enough to only store food for the priests and Levites for one week. Notice Nehemiah 10:37b-38. The tithes went to the Levitical cities where the priests received their share alongside the Levites.


TL: … the Tabernacle/Temple. Our New Testament instruction doesn't say which storehouse, that's for you and the Spirit to decide.


RK: The “church” is always an assembly of believers in the N.T. Its buildings did not become regular until around AD 250. There was no such thing as a church “storehouse” when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 16:2; Christians hid to worship.


TL: However, if you're a member of a church that honors God, you have an obligation to support that good work first.


RK: Yes, with freewill sacrificial offerings and not with so-called tithes.


TL: Having done that, I believe you're free to pray and give an additional offering where your heart leads you (1 John 3:21).


RK: So now the heart does not guide where the first 10% goes.


TL: Personally, I tithe my salary through my church.


RK: Do you own or inherit property? Why? That was not allowed by OT tithe-recipients (Num 18:25-28). and at


Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

316 Aonia Rd

Washington, Ga 30673

Author of: Should the Church
Teach Tithing? A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo

Please engage me in this discussion

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