Russell Earl Kelly replies to Bruce Gerencser about Tithing
On May 13 2015, Byroniac asked Bruce Gerencser, “What Do You Think of Russell Earl Kelly and His Position on Tithing?” Rather than only answer the question (in complete agreement even), Gerencser first replied with a stinging attack on my education. He began by quoting part of my Wikipedia article. He ignored my evident intellectual reasoning capacity as evidenced from an accredited B. A. degree in theology and 22 semester hours of Chinese Mandarin from Yale University – both fully accredited.
Gerencser: Kelly is a 70-year-old New Covenant Independent Baptist who loves to put PhD after his name and talk about tithing.
Kelly: The same is true of Dr. Billy Graham and was true for Dr. James Kennedy. Yet Billy Graham does not have an earned PHD or THD from any school, accredited or otherwise. Graham’s highest earned degree is a B.A. in Anthropology at Wheaten College.
Gerenscer: One would think that Kelly has a degree from a respected university, but he doesn’t. He earned his PhD at Covington Theological Seminary, an unaccredited Independent Baptist institution in Ft Oglethorpe, Georgia.
Kelly: Covington’s accreditation is listed on its website.
a) It is wrong to say that Covington Theological Seminary is “unaccredited.” However, it is correct to say that it is not “government accredited.” Along with hundreds of other church schools, it chooses not to be told by any government how to run its school. The same was true for many highly respected schools for many decades.
b) Covington had permission from the State of Georgie to grant my Ph.D.
c) Many top Christian leaders have PHD degrees from schools which were not government accredited or even accredited by any Christian accreditation organization. Dr. Charles Stanley received his PHD from Luther Rice before it was upgraded. The same is true of Dr. Donald Barnhouse. The Southern Baptist Convention has had several presidents with degrees from non-government accredited schools.
d) A theology degree from a government-accredited school does not prove that its theology is correct. The government does not sit in Bible classes to determine if correct theology is being taught! Thus Notre Dame can give PHDs in theology to Catholics and Brigham Young can give PHDs in theology to Mormons. The PHD has no bearing on whether the holder of such degree has been taught biblical truth. I consider myself fully versed to debate any person holding any degree from any school.
Gerenscer: Want a doctorate? It will cost you $2,395. Work required? 40 credit hours and a 25,000 to 50,000 word thesis. You can check out Covington’s catalog here.
Kelly: Yes, check the web site out please. Gerenscer is a liar!!! He is merely quoting the FINAL costs AFTER one has already earned hundreds of hours in the prerequisite Bachelors, Masters and other prerequisite programs. If he bothered reading their web site, he should have been honest about those facts.
Gerenscer: I have made my view of unaccredited IFB doctorates quite clear in the post IFB Doctorates: Here a Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Everyone’s a Doctor.
Kelly: While I agree that much of Gerenscer’s criticism of degree mills is valid, that does not apply to all non-government accredited schools, including Covington Theological Seminary. Gerenscer should criticize Dr. Billy Graham, Dr. Charles Stanley and Dr. Donald Barnhouse in the same manner. He should tell us how a government-accreditor validates a person’s theology.
Gerenscer: That said, education aside, Byroniac’s question is about Kelly’s view on tithing.
Kelly: Totally unnecessary personal attacks having been made ….
Gerenscer: While I have not read Kelly’s book, I do think his view on tithing is generally correct. Kelly states:
New Covenant giving is: freewill, sacrificial, generous, joyful, regular and motivated by love for God, fellow Christians and lost souls. Do not burden or curse God’s poor who struggle to feed and shelter their family. Although there is no set percentage for Christians to give, all should give sacrificially or lower your standards of living in order to further the reach of the Gospel.
Kelly: Thank you. That is great news.
Gerencser: While I think that Earl Kelly, based on what I have read on his blog and website, is full of himself, I do think he is essentially correct when it comes to tithing and what the New Testament teaches about giving.
Kelly: I cannot understand why he is so mean spirited. His attacks make himself look bad.
Gerenscer: As my theology began to evolve and I was influenced by New Covenant theology and Calvinism, I came to see that tithing was an Old Testament command no longer in force.
Kelly: Many, if not most Calvinists, also teach tithing. Some of my most vocal opponents are Calvinists (and fellow Fundamental Baptists).
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD