Von Robinson: Ten Reasons I Believe in Tithing
Rebuttal by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD, October 19, 2016
Von: 1. We tithe because the first and the best belong to the Lord. This is a clear principle and practice throughout scripture. (1st use)
Russ: You begin by erroneously equating tithing with firstfruits with zero supporting text. In reality, firstfruits were the first and best of food from the HOLY land of Israel (Prov 3:9-10; Deut 12:7; 26:1-10)). You err again by saying that tithes were the best; tithes were the tenth (not the first) and, according to Leviticus 27:33, were NOT the best. Only the one percent of the Levitical tithe was the best (Num 18:25-28; Neh 10:38).
Von: For those who argue that tithing only belongs within the Mosaic Law, a. Abraham brought the tithe some 430 years before the law was written and set a precedent (Gal 3:28-29).
Russ: The pre-Law tithes of Abraham (Gen 14:18-20) and Jacob (Gen 28:20-22) were pagan in content and would not have been HOLY tithes under the Law or by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi or Jesus. God’s Word does not tell us WHY Abram tithed; it was probably in obedience to the Semitic pagan law of the land. Abram made a lot of mistakes; only that which he did by faith is our example.
Von: Jacob made a covenant to tithe hundreds of years before the law was given to Moses, with no mandate from God. His act of worship was simply inspired by the Holy Spirit, and continued to establish a pattern and precedent of tithing.
Russ: You dishonestly do not quote verse 20 for Jacob because it proves you to be wrong. Jacob the schemer, not Israel the overcomer, bargained with God in Genesis 28:20 and he set the “if” conditions for God to meet. Not a good example. Also, “His act of worship was simply inspired by the Holy Spirit” is you opinion; God’s Word does not state WHY Jacob tithed.
Von: Those who oppose the practice of tithing will argue that Old Testament tithing was only required from the agricultural increase of the crops
Russ: The point is that the HOLY tithe ---as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus--- was (1) always only FOOD (2) from inside HOLY Israel (3) which God had miraculously increased; it was not from man’s hand. The 16 texts used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus are all from the Law; they did not use pre-Law examples of Semitic tithing in their descriptions. Lev 27:30, 32; Numb 18:27-28; Deut 12:17; 14:22-23; 26:12; 2 Chron 31:5-6; Neh 10:37; 13:5; Mal 3:10-11; Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42. Common decency and honesty to the Word compel us to use the definition they used.
Von: …thus, giving money, or asking all believers to tithe their money, is a biblical standard.
Russ: The word “money” occurs in Genesis 32 times and 44 times before the HOLY tithe in Leviticus 27:30-34. Money was required for certain taxes and vows. Yet not once was money included in the 16 texts describing HOLY tithes as the word is used by Malachi and Jesus.
Von: … we're looking at the overarching principles in Scripture
Russ: You totally disobey God and ignore “other” tithing “principles” of the Levitical tithe: (1) Only to servants of the ministering priests (Num 18:21-28; Neh 10:37-38). (2) Only to those who cannot own or inherit land in Israel (Num 18:20 plus). (3) Only to those who Levites and priests who refuse to amass wealth (Num 18:20).
Von: Here is the logical conclusion and what we believe and teach: Tithing the first and best of all our increase is a faith response that applies to all who are in Abraham’s seed, through Christ. (2nd use)
Russ: You repeat the lie that biblical tithes are the same as firstfruits. There is no Scriptural validation for this. Also, there is no biblical proof that Abram’s tithe was a faith response; this is merely your manipulation of God’s Word to your own enrichment.
Von: 2. We tithe because wisdom cries out that we should. The book of Proverbs is the book of wisdom. It is not law and it clearly applies to every believer for all generations. The clearest verse in the Bible regarding this practice of bringing the first and best can be found in this book of timeless wisdom. Proverbs 3:9-10 (3rd use)
Russ: The words “tithe,” “tithes” and “tithing” do not occur in Proverbs!!! You keep magnifying your lie by repeating it for emphasis. “First” and “tenth” are not the same. “Best” and “he shall not search whether it be good or bad” in Leviticus 27:33 are different. The “best” was not part of the tithe the Levites received in Num 18:21-24; it was only the “best” of the 1% in verses 25-28.
Von: The bringing of the tithe or “first and best” is inseparable from the promise of God’s blessing on those who do. (4th use)
Russ: You use the repetition of “first” and “best” like voodoo. Repeating the same lie will never make it true.
Von: Malachi 3:10, “He will open the windows of heaven”.
Russ: Read the whole text! Over 1000 years after first being described in Leviticus 27:30-34 only for national Israel under the Old Covenant, the HOLY tithe is still only FOOD!!! “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat (food) in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Von: 3. We tithe because New Testament believers gave a percentage of their income consistently and generously (1 Cor 16:2).
Russ: Read the text. “A percentage of their income” does not mean “10%.” First Corinthians 16:1-2 is about collecting FOOD for famine relief in Judea. It is not about tithing, pastoral salaries or church support. Also, money is worthless in a famine.
Von: This practice [of tithing] has been followed for thousands of years now.
Russ: Wrong. Read 3-4 reliable books on early Church History. The first attempt to make tithing a church law was after AD 500. It did not become Church Law in AD 777 and was abolished afterwards by Catholicism.
Von: Remember that tithing is not a New Testament law but a Biblical principle and pattern for giving.
Russ: Tithing is never taught by the Holy Spirit to the post-Calvary church in the New Testament. There is no “tithe principle” found in the Bible which applies to all persons universally. Those who were not food-producers inside Israel did not qualify as tithe-payers ---including Jesus and Paul.
Von: 4. We tithe because Jesus never negated or abolished the practice of tithing. Scholars present a very strong argument that Jesus grew up in a tithing home…
Russ: Wrong. As a carpenter Jesus never tithed; they were not food producers. The same is true of the Apostle Paul.
Von: … there was no real need to present it as some new expectation or requirement.
Russ: This argument from silence is very weak. Since God only commanded food-producers inside HOLY Israel to tithe, there never was an expectation or requirement from non-food-producers and, of course, never from anybody living outside HOLY Israel.
Von: Thus, when Jesus confronted the Pharisees about the issue of tithing He basically said, “Yes, you should tithe, now get busy loving people!” Matthew 23:23
Russ: Note “aspects of the law” in Mt 23:23. Since Jesus was born, lived and died while the Law was still in full force, He was required to teach Law-tithing OR ELSE BE A SINNER. Therefore, of course, Jesus taught tithing; He came to live a perfect sinless life and observe all of the Law at all times.
Von: This [Mt 23:23] was not just a rebuke for Pharisees.
Russ: That is a strange thing to say since it is addressed to “you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites” “who sit in Moses seat.” Mt 23:2. Jesus was clearly speaking only to Jewish leaders and His Jewish disciples under the Law. He was not addressing the Church. Galatians 4:4-5
Von: The New Testament believers, Jewish Christ followers composing the New Testament Church, naturally gave their tithes and freewill offerings to the local assembly. We see consistent evidence of the patterns of giving in the letters to the Church and the book of Acts, without detailed instruction on how or how much. Why? Because it was already an established part of their faith and worship gatherings.
Russ: This is extremely wrong. Acts 21:20-21 exposes the error. At the very end of Paul’s third missionary journey several decades after Calvary, the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were still “zealous of the law” and, therefore, still paying their tithes to the Hebrew Temple system!!!
Von: Jesus never abolished or rescinded the practice of tithing.
Russ: (1) We learn in Hebrews 7:5 that tithes were commanded as part of the support for the Levitical priesthood. Since the priesthood was changed from Aaron to Melchizedek, it was “necessary to change” “the law” of tithing also. The “change” was its “annulment” in 7:18.
(2) After Calvary all believers became priests and priests did not tithe.
(3) Jeremiah 31:31-31 ended the Old Covenant Law and replaced it with the New Covenant.
(4) The entire Law (good and bad) ended at Calvary (Heb 8:8-13). The new “law of the Spirit of live in Christ Jesus” does not repeat tithing.
(5) When Jesus died the veil in the Temple was ripped, thus indicating that the entire Law ended.
(6) Romans 7:4 teaches that Christians are “dead to the law” ---the entire old law.
Von: 5. We tithe because it is a starting point for New Testament giving.
Russ: No texts. There is no eternal moral principle here because the tithe never applied to anybody except Hebrews who lived inside God’s HOLY land of Israel and were food-producers (Lev 27:30-34).
Von: We are in no way implying or preaching that tithing is New Testament law, and if you break that law you will stand in judgment for it!
Russ: You teach that tithing was taught and practiced after Calvary for thousands of years. If it was not New Testament law, then it was not an eternal moral principle for anybody (Rom 8:1-3).
Von: … it’s a real scriptural stretch to identify people as thieves if they do not tithe.
Russ: Your very first sentence in this article is: “We tithe because the first and the best belong to the Lord. This is a clear principle and practice throughout scripture.”
Von: Tithing as a starting point, not a goal to achieve.
Russ: Sounds good, but without texts you are merely stating your opinion.
Von: If we understand that grace always exceeds the law, and that the New Testament believers gave far above 10% of their own volition, we can begin to get an accurate perspective of New Testament tithing.
Russ: Yes, grace exceeds the Law. The Law only required Hebrew food-producers living inside Israel to tithe. Grace urges all believers everywhere to give freely, sacrificially, not by commandment and joyfully. There is no OT precedent to quote or grasp which proves everybody began their level of giving at 10%. You cannot quote a non-existent precedent.
Von: Tithing is intended to train people to trust God, to break greed and selfishness off our lives, and build healthy spiritual habits that will release God’s blessing over our lives.
Russ: Nice-sounding rhetoric, but it is not biblical. O.T. food-producers inside Israel were commanded to tithe by force of the Law ---not grace and not freewill.
Von: Some would argue that, “Well since we are under grace, why are you trying to impose an Old Testament standard of 10%?”
Russ: The correct dispensational hermeneutic for bringing teachings from the old to the new covenant is: If it applies to the Church after Calvary, it is repeated in grace and faith terms of the New Covenant. The entire Old Covenant ended at Calvary (good and bad). This is also how the new U.S. Constitution completely negated and replaced the old English Constitution after 1776.
Von: This is a valid question, as long as the person asking it is planning on giving above 10%...
Russ: You are still teaching as fact the erroneous assumption that everybody under the Law began his/her level of giving at 10%.
Von: Almost always, in my personal experience, people who hold a position that “we should just give what we feel led to give” never get close to the biblical standard of the tithe, much less the New Testament standards of sacrifice and radical generosity.
Russ: Tell that to Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, John MacArthur and Merrill Unger.
Von: … just be honest with God and ourselves in this reality …
Russ: You are not honest with God’s Word. You have no right to own and inherit property and amass wealth contrary to the biblical expectations of tithe recipients in Numbers 18:20.
Von: [Consider the consequences of only doing what you “feel like doing.]
Russ: That logic does not give you permission to disobey God’s Word, redefine HOLY tithes, redefine the recipients of HOLY tithes and ignore God’s prohibition of tithe-recipients from owning property and amassing wealth.
Von: [Americans are giving less to churches than they have ever given by percentage]
Russ: Perhaps that is because the pure gospel is being preached less and less, hell is rarely preached, church members are not convicted that the world is going to hell without Christ and church members are not being taught how to become soul-winners.
Von: 6. We tithe because it releases the blessings of God. Malachi 3:10-11; Prov 3:9-10.
Russ: First you misquote Malachi 3:10 here. Second, you ignore the fact that tithes are still only food in Malachi 3:10-11. I have known people who expect God to bless them for tithing while they are living together unmarried with several illegitimate children. Galatians 3:10 teaches that tithe-payers cannot expect blessings unless they kept the whole law.
Von: 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 4:19; Von: 2 Corinthians 9:6 and Proverbs 11:24-26
Russ: These are all texts about sacrificial giving --- not tithing.
Von: 7. We tithe because of grace, but we are not legalistic!
Russ: The Holy Spirit did not choose to include a single command for Christians to tithe after Calvary. “The commandment going before,” Aaronic tithing (Heb 7:5, 18) was “changed” (Heb 7:12) to being “disannulled” (Heb 7:18) because it was ultimately “weak and unprofitable” (Heb 7:18) and could not bring about perfection, or spiritual maturity (Heb 7:11).
Von: We tithe, we bring the first and the best (5th use)
Russ: Throw in one more repetition of the lie that tithes were the same things as firstfruits.
Von: 8. We tithe because it all belongs to God in the first place. Look, the highest heavens and the earth and everything in it all belong to the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 14:10; 1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Job 4:11; Ps 24:1-2; Haggai 2:8; Mal 3:7-9; Revelation 2:4-5
Russ: While it is true that God owns everything, it is significant that HOLY tithes could only come from inside God’s HOLY land and only from that which God personally increased by miracle growth. HOLY Tithes did not come from that which man increased.
Von: The very nature of God requires that He deserves and will only accept our first, not our leftovers! This is true of our time, our passion, our love, and our finances. This is why we teach that tithing is the first, not the leftovers. It belongs to Him and giving to Him first is our reasonable act of worship! (6th use)
Russ: Repeat the lie one more time that tithes are the same as firstfruits. Leviticus 27:32-33 exposes this lie:
Lev 27:32 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
Lev 27:33 He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it …
In First Timothy 5:8 Paul commanded the church to use its first-income to buy essential shelter, food and medicine. It is SIN to demand that the poor and needy in our churches give a tithe to the church first.
Von: 9. We tithe because it’s remained the established doctrine and practice of great leaders and churches throughout history.
Russ: Lie, lie, lie. Again I challenge anybody to seriously read reputable church historians. Dr. David Croteau also wrote his PHD dissertation on tithing and debunked the historical connection (You Mean I Don’t Have to Tithe?) There is a special chapter on the history of tithing in the church in my book, Should the Church Teach Tithing.
Von: Paul told Timothy to “follow my example as I follow the example of Christ”.
Russ: Paul most certainly did not teach Timothy to teach tithing. According to Acts 20:28-35, Paul warned about false preachers who would fleece the flock (20:29-30). Timothy was among those whom Paul supported while he was receiving absolutely no support from churches (20:31-34). And the “example” was to get jobs, work to be self-sufficient and give to the needy in the church (20:35). Yet many modern preachers use the lie that God demands the first tenth be given to church; instead of modern elders giving to the needy, they take from them first.
Von: 10. We tithe because one day we will give an account! Romans 14:12; Hebrews 13:17
Russ: This is only an argument for those who have changed God’s Word to make the O.T. tithe apply to gospel workers.
I challenge honest God-fearing men and women to enter into an open detailed public discussion of tithing. This doctrine is giving Christianity a bad reputation and binds it to the Old Covenant Law.
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD