REPLY TO DEAN GREIMANN ON TITHING
BY RUSSELL EARL KELLY, PHD
On December 17, 2016, Senior Pastor Dean Greimann, Regional Worship Center, Sherburn, MN, replied to Russell Kelly and James Sundquist concerning tithing. This is (hopefully) the first of a long open dialog on the subject to be posted on my blog. Since both sides of this controversy need to be heard, we encourage brother Greimann to stay with this discussion for the public benefit of the body of Christ. Greimann’s telephone is 641-812-0759; his email is email@example.com. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org; my BlogSpot is russkellyphd.blogspot.com; 706-401-1276. Sunquist’s email is rrin Jay email@example.com.
DG: Dear James Sundquist: In response to your charges against Rev. Hickle, I would like to go on record as stating:
1. Tithe to store up treasures in Heaven instead of hoarding things on Earth. (Matthew 6:19-21)
RK: If the word, “tithe,” were replaced with the word, “give,” we would have no disagreement here. We are not opposed to freewill sacrificial giving, but we are opposed to post-Calvary unbiblical descriptions of tithing.
Although money was very common even in Genesis, the HOLY tithes (as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus) never changed from “HOLY food from inside God’s HOLY land miraculously increased by God.” There are 16 texts validating this and none changing the description to “increase of money from all believers in every nation.”
DG: 2. Tithe to trust God with your money. (Malachi 3:9-11) You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it….”
RK: The modern tithe-teacher uses Malachi to steal from God’s children. Notice the discrepancies:
A. HOLY tithes were never money
B. Gentles never were under the command to tithe in the Old Covenant. (1:1; 4:4)
C. Tithes could not come from outside HOLY Israel. (Lev 27:30-34)
D. Only food producers living HOLY Israel qualified as tithe-payers. Those in other occupations did not qualify. Jesus and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers.
E. The curse of the Old Covenant ended at Calvary (Gal 3:13). God does not curse born-again believers.
F. From 1:6; 2:1; 2:17; 3:1-4 it is clear that “you” in Malachi refers to dishonest priests from 1:6-14. They had stolen the tithes in Nehemiah 13:5-10. The “whole nation of you” – of you priests had been stealing tithes belonging to the Levites.
G. Since the whole tithe of Judea would never fit into the Jerusalem temple storerooms, this text only makes sense if God is telling the priests to return what they stole from the Levites in Neh 13:5-10. Most of the tithe was brought to the cities where Levites and priests lived per Nehemiah 10:37-38.
H. The Church building is never called a storehouse. In fact, church buildings were illegal in the Roman Empire until after A.D. 300. Since there were no church buildings to store tithes in the first centuries, the application of “storehouse” to “church buildings” is wrong.
I. The tithe is still (correctly) called “food” in Malachi 3:10. That definition was given 1000 years earlier in Leviticus 27:30-34; it stayed the same for Malachi; it stayed the same 400 years later for Jesus in Matthew 23:23.
J. According to Deuteronomy 28 to 30, the whole law was a test: obey all to be blessed; break one to be cursed. God did not bless tithers who broke the law in other areas (Gal 3:10).
K. “Windows,” floodgates, insects and harvest in Malachi 3:10-12 correctly describe the tithes as food and not money.
DG: 3. Tithe in thankfulness to God because it is God that provides for us and He is the one that gives us the ability to make money.
RK: There are no validating texts because none exist. Food producers inside HOLY Israel were thankful but they were the only Israelites commanded to tithe from that which God miraculously increased. While God owns all (Ps 24:1), the HOLY tithe could only from inside HOLY Israel.
DG: (Deuteronomy 8:18) You must remember the LORD your God, for he is the one who gives ability to get wealth; if you do this he will confirm his covenant that he made by oath to your ancestors, even as he has to this day.
RK: Again, this is Old Covenant context only for Old Covenant Israel. God never commanded Gentiles or the Church to tithe.
DG: (Deuteronomy 26:10) And now, O LORD, I have brought you the first portion of the harvest you have given me from the ground.’ Then place the produce before the LORD your God, and bow to the ground in worship before him.
RK: This is text manipulation. Read 26:1-10.
A. It is about the firstfruits of the new land and not tithes.
B. Firstfruits were never the same as tithes.
C. Firstfruits would fit into a small basket.
D. Even firstfruits could only come from inside the HOLY land of Israel.
DG: (Matthew 22:21) They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
RK: Yes, Old Covenant food producers living inside HOLY Israel should tithe before Calvary. Now read the context. Man’s money with the image of man was not to be given to God or to be brought into the temple. This destroys the argument for modern money-tithing with its unholy images.
DG: 4. To put God first by acknowledging that the tithe belongs to Him.
(Deuteronomy 14:23) Bring this tithe to the designated place of worship–the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored–and eat it there in his presence. This applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn males of your flocks and herds. Doing this will teach you always to fear the LORD your God.
A. Tithes are never the same as firstfruits in God’s Word. Even Deut 14:23 distinguishes between tithes and firstborn.
B. This is about the 2nd Festival-Feast tithe which was brought to the STREETS of Jerusalem during the 3 annual feats.
C. This tithe was EATEN in the streets by all in attendance – including the Gentile strangers.
D. Churches which do not eat this festival tithe in the streets of Jerusalem should not use this text to prove that everybody should tithe.
5. To honor the Lord.
(Proverbs 3:9) Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.
RK: Again, tithes are never the same thing as firstfruits in God’s Word. Manipulating Proverbs 3:9-10 is a sin which takes essential money away from the needy to fill the pockets of the clergy contrary to Paul’s admonition in First Timothy 5:8.
DG: (1 Corinthians 10:31) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
RK: No tithing context.
DG: 6. Tithe to discipline yourself. To keep yourself from saying that all of your income belongs to you without giving God what rightly belong to Him...
RK: No tithing context.
DG: (1 Timothy 4:7) But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.
RK: Modern “tithing” is a “worldly fable.” Nothing, absolutely nothing taught in the Church today about tithing is in the correct biblical context. The Church has (1) changed the description from food to money, (2) changed the location from God’s HOLY land to the entire earth, (3) changed the purpose from feeding Levites and priests who forfeited land inheritance in Israel to gospel workers who own fancy homes, (4) changed the command in Numbers 18:20 not to amass wealth to using tithing to amass great wealth, (5) changed the limited O.T. covenant and un-supported New Covenant context, (6) changed the description to include the first income from S.S. checks and welfare checks where there is no increase, (7) changed tithers from food producers inside Israel to all believers, (8) added Gentiles to required tithers when God’s Word did not allow such and (9) defined Jesus and Paul as tithe-payers when they are disqualified in God’s Word.
DG: 7. Tithing gives you joy.
(2 Corinthians 9:7) Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
RK: No. 2 Cor 9:7 is a description of freewill sacrificial joyful giving; it is not a description of commanded necessary O. T. tithing only from Israel. O.T. tithes were to be given whether grudgingly or not.
DG: (Psalm 4:7) You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
RK: No context of tithing. In fact, the word “tithe, tithes, tithing” does not occur in any Psalm or any writing of David or Solomon.
DG: 8. A biblical church helps people in need. Tithe to help church ministries to grow so that the church can reach out physically and spiritually to others. Tithing so that the kingdom of Heaven can and will advance through our communities.
RK: Again this has no tithing context.
DG: (Hebrews 13:16) And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
RK: This is not in the context of tithing. The church which falsely teaches that tithes are firstfruits steals from God’s poorest children contrary to First Timothy 5:8.
DG: (2 Corinthians 9:6) But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
RK: This is not in the context of tithing. Those who have nothing to sow should not be made to feel guilty.
DG: (Proverbs 19:17) The one who is gracious to the poor lends to the LORD, and the LORD will repay him for his good deed.
RK: A Christian’s first priority is to make sure his own family has minimum shelter, food, heat and medicine. The church which demands a tithe first is stealing from God’s poorest.
1 Tim 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
DG: (1 Corinthians 9:13-14) Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
A. If verse 14 only refers to verse 13, then Christians must duplicate every single type of support O.T. Levites and priests received in the Temple –thus the argument is self-defeating.
B. If “in the same way” from verse 14 refers back to verses 7-13, then it concluding a principles that all vocations care for their own from their own principles. The principles of support for gospel workers in verse 14 are the gospel principles of grace and faith and not the law.
DG: (Numbers 18:21) I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting.
RK: This verse contradicts modern tithe-teaching because it proves that the full Levitical tithe went ONLY to the SERVANTS of the priests. The priests only received 1% as seen in Numbers 18:25-28. If this verse were obeyed, tithes would go to the deacons, greeters, musicians, singers and church workers.
DG: (Romans 10:14) How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
RK: Paul boasted about preaching for free 1 First Corinthians 9 and Acts 20. O.T. priests and Levites only worked one week out of 24 in the Temple; the remainder of the time they were herdsmen, farmers and tradesmen per First Chronicles, chapters 23 to 26. You have no biblical authority to demand tithes be paid to support full-time gospel workers. The Bible neither commands nor prohibits full-time gospel workers.
DG: 9. God will bless you for placing Him first in your giving to Him your tithes.
RK: Again you infer a claim without validating texts. Placing God’s kingdom first (Matthew 6:33) does not invalidate First Timothy 5:8. Neither does it teach tithing after Calvary. Again, Scripture must be twisted out of context in order to equate tithing with firstfruits.
DG: … just take a closer look at His churches in third world countries. He blesses those who freely give out of their love and obedience to His commands, expecting nothing in return.
RK: The key word is “freely” – not grudgingly, not by command and not by radically changing the biblical definition of the HOLY tithe. If tithing worked, every Christian would tithe and there would be no poor Christians. The fact is that most that sacrificially “tithe” remain very poor.
DG: … One can never out-give God.
RK: That is true, but it does not validate post-Calvary tithing. As a carpenter, Jesus Himself did not qualify as a tithe-payer.
DG: … referring to money that belongs to the Lord …
RK: Please give validating Scripture before making these kinds of remarks. Jesus said to give money with images of Caesar on it to Caesar; that includes our money today. Howe do you explain that?
DG: I’ve witnessed …. people who cheerfully gave were blessed in their finances.
RK: Yes, we have all witnessed that but it does not validate tithing because the vast majority of “tithe-payers” in poverty remain in poverty; it is not a magic formula. We have also witnessed atheists, agnostics and Muslims who become very wealthy by applying sound business practices.
DG: 10a. Tithing shows your love for the Lord …
RK: Where does God’s Word say that? Stop inventing your own morality statements. Food tithes were required for Hebrews living inside God’s HOLY land whether they loved God or not.
DG: 10b. … and it tests where your heart is at.
RK: God never commanded Gentiles to tithe. Tithing was only a pre-Calvary test for food-producers living inside HOLY Israel. And, the whole law was a test in Deuteronomy 28 to 30: obey all to live; break one to die (Galatians 3:10). Please explain that.
DG: 10c. … Tithing your first fruits is one thing that God commands us to do
RK: You keep repeating this same lie. Tell me where tithes and firstfruits are the same thing! The tithe was the TENTH animal and the TENTH of the crop which could only be counted after the full harvest. And tell me where God “commands” “us,” His Church, to tithe. You keep repeating the same weak arguments over and over.
DG: (2 Corinthians 8:8-9)
RK: This is a reference to freewill sacrificial generous joyful giving ---not tithing which was none of those.
DG: (John 14:15) "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
RK: What does this mean in context? Jesus lived and died while the Old Covenant was in full authority. Jesus taught and perfectly kept all of the Law without sin. Before Calvary Jesus’ “commandments” included temple sacrifices, temple worship and tithing to support Levites and priests. Are we to tithe to Levites and priests as Jesus commanded?
DG: In conclusion, your approach to God’s command for us to give Him the sacrifice of our first fruits, including our income, is a worldview that is invading the post-modern church and is spreading across our nation today.
RK: Read back over our article and count how many times you have stated WITHOUT VALIDATING TEXTS that “tithes ae the same thing as firstfruits.” You, my friend, are a LIAR and are twisting God’s Word!!! My view of tithing is from God’s Word in its original context. On the other hand, your view is that of the modern church which has totally destroyed the context and original meaning of God’s “tithe” and has redefined it as “income from all sources.”
1. What gives you the right to re-define the Old Covenant HOLY tithe as “income” instead of “food from inside God’s HOLY land miraculously increased by Him”?
2. What gives you the right to teach what you glean about tithing and leave out Numbers 18:20-28 which limits property ownership, amassing wealth and giving the tithe to servants instead of ministering priests?
3. What gives you the right to receive tithes from Social Security and welfare which are not “increase” and force God’s poorest to go without proper medicine, shelter and food?
4. I will reply to your closing article on the Law and Covenants soon.
In Christ’s love
Russell Earl Kelly