R C SPROUL, TITHING REBUTTAL BY RUSSELL EARL KELLY, 5-19-2017
Stewardship, Tithing and Giving has recently been posted by R C Sproul of Legonier Ministries. A much larger article from 2009 follows on my web site.
Sproul: … the Bible commands Christians to be good stewards of their resources for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Kelly: Yes, but the post-Calvary New Covenant does not command Christians to begin their level of giving at 10%.
Sproul: … God’s ownership of the whole universe: “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1).
Kelly: While this is true and was true when written, it still does not validate tithing because O. T. holy tithes were always only holy food from inside God's holy land miraculously increased by God. God did not accept anything else as holy tithes.
Sproul: … Humankind’s stewardship began in the Garden of Eden …
Kelly: Yes, but tithing did not begin in the Garden of Eden. One tree out of thousands is not at tenth ---plus God did not command Adam to harvest it and give a portion of its fruit back to Him.
Sproul: At the center of the biblical concept of stewardship is the tithe, which first appears in the Old Testament.
Kelly: No, freewill offerings were the basis of stewardship because freewill offerings applied to everybody and tithe dis not.
Sproul: The word tithe means “tenth.”
Kelly: Yes, but the word is used in conjunction with "holy" and the "holy" tenth was never money or anything man produced or food from outside God's holy land.
Sproul: The basic principle was that every person was to return one-tenth of his increase to the Lord on an annual basis.
Kelly: No, this is not biblical. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not tithe because they did not qualify and their increase was not holy food from God's holy land.
Sproul: The beauty of the tithe is that it precluded class warfare and the politics of envy. It prohibited unequal taxes from being imposed wherein one group of people paid a higher percentage than another.
Kelly: No, tradesmen and craftsmen did not tithe; neither did teachers, painters, Gentiles, or anybody outside Israel. It was only imposed on food producers living inside holy Israel.
Sproul: When that happens, economics becomes politicized, and it creates vested interest groups where justice is ignored for the sake of power.
Kelly: You are blind to the facts.
Sproul: In Israel, everyone gave the same percentage but not the same amount.
Kelly: No, only food producers living inside Israel. No texts validate your statement.
Sproul: Trouble developed in the Old Testament when the people held out on their tithes. They were not obedient to God’s law. Malachi 3:8–10.
Kelly: I am convinced that the context of 3:8-10 is Malachi 1:6; 2:1 and Nehemiah 13:5-10. Priests were the thieves who stole the
Levites portion of the tithes. "The whole nation of you" refers to "you priests."
Sproul: You are cursed with a curse
Kelly: See Galatians 3:10-13.
Sproul: Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house
Kelly: Holy tithes are still only FOOD 1000 years after Leviticus 27:30-34.
Sproul: This means that if the tithe principle is still in effect
Kelly: Why? - because Malachi 3:10 is still in the Bible? Your church does not obey anything else in Malachi such as animal sacrifices, priests and a temple storehouse.
Sproul: Why did God institute the tithe in the first place? In order to support the Levites, who had no tribal allocation of land. The Levites were set apart to take care of the spiritual and educational responsibilities of the nation, and their work and physical necessities were paid for by the tithe (Num. 18).
Kelly: Yes, but the Levites who received tithes were only SERVANTS to priests and ministers only received one per cent. Numb 18:20-28.
Sproul: Under the new covenant, the tithe continues to support the work of building up people in the truth of God and reaching sinners with the gospel.
Kelly: If true, then you as a minister (1) only get 1% of the tithe, (2)
cannot own or inherit property and (3) are of the lineage of Aaron.
Sproul: A fundamental principle is at work here.
Kelly: What is a "fundamental principle"? If it is an eternal moral principle, it should be revealed in the heart and conscience. Giving is: ten per cent is not.
Sproul: Christian ministry depends upon Christian giving. That giving always and everywhere limits the work of ministry.
Kelly: Freewill, sacrificial, generous and joyful.
Sproul: Of course, my argument assumes that the tithe continues in this new covenant era. Some deny that the tithe continues today, but that’s not what the earliest Christians believed. In the Didache, written at the end of the first century or early in the second, there is a significant amount of material on the question of supporting the work of the kingdom. The tithe principle is clearly communicated in this work, showing us that the primitive Christian community continued the practice of the tithe.
Kelly: First, the Didache's origin is unknown. It was found in a Jewish Monastery and could have been written by heretical Jewish Christian legalists such as the Ebionites or Elkiasites. Second it teaches that visiting prophets should only stay one day and if he asks for money he is a false prophet (XI). Third, it teaches firstfruits which are not the same as tithes (XIII). Fourth
Sproul: The whole tithe from the whole nation was brought into this single receiving place, and it was then distributed by the Levites according to the needs of the people.
Kelly: No. First, the room for tithes was very small according to 1 Kings 6:6. Second, Nehemiah 10:38b teaches that the Levitical tithe was brought to the Levitical cities where they lived. It is illogical to conclude that Levites and priests had to travel to the Temple to get food. Third, according to Nehemiah 10:38, Levites and priests brought what they needed with them to the temple. See my book for many details.