Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Backlash Against Tithing - PART 2

Book and Author a Major Influence on WSJ Article, The Backlash Against Tithing

Click here for part 1.

On Friday, November 23, 2007 the Wall Street Journal published a written and online article, The Backlash Against Tithing, by Suzanne Sataline.

Georgia writer, Russell Earl Kelly, Ph. D, the author of Should the Church Teach Tithing? A Theologian's Conclusions About a Taboo Doctrine, was a major contributor of names and information for the article.

Kelly spent hundreds of hours pouring over old e-mails from the past six years to furnish names and information to the Wall Street Journal for this article. The following names and important data of key persons interviewed in the article were provided by him: Robert Barbour, Kirk Cesaretti, James Harnut-Beumler, Andreas Kostenberger, Kevin Rohr and Judy Willingham. At least three of these persons were influenced by his book.

The truth has been let out of the closet now. Praise God. Thank you Ms. Suzanne Sataline. As Kevin Rohr was quoted in the article, "All decisions to give and how much to give are between the believer and their God, not meant to be used as stumbling blocks or judgments against others." While many in prosperous countries should give more than 10%, the Christian is not under a percentage and should give for better reasons outlined to the Church.

Russell Earl Kelly, Author of Should the Church Teach Tithing?


russkellyphd said...

Thanks for the posting. I would like to add the following to stir discussion. Thanks.


A tradition is not automatically an eternal moral principle merely because it is very old, very common and very widespread. The fact that tithing was common in much pagan worship before the Bible was written does not make it a moral principle. Idolatry, worship of astrological bodies, child sacrifice, temple prostitution, witchcraft and necromancy are equally very old, very common and very widespread in pagan cultures. The practice of giving is found in natural law, but an exact percentage is not.

Abraham tithed before the Law. But that does not prove that tithing is an eternal moral principle. If we followed Abraham's example (as we are told), (1) we would only tithe spoils gathered from our enemies; (2) we would only tithe once; (3) we would not tithe any of our own property and (4) we would give the 90% to the equivalent of the king of Sodom. See my book, chapter two and my essay, Tithing is Not a Christian Doctrine, point four.


This lie is built on two false assumptions: (1) that everybody in the OT was required to begin their level of giving at 10% and (2) that everybody in the OT gave 10% of all increase as a tithe.

First, only those Israelites who earned a livelihood from farming and herding clean animals inside Israel were required to tithe under the Mosaic Law. All sixteen (16) of sixteen (16) Bible texts which describe the contents of tithes porve tihis point. The tithe increase only came from God’s miracle hand. Second, those whose increase came from their own crafts and skills were not required to tithe products and money. The poor and needy who did not tithe and received from the tithe gave freewill offerings. See my book, chapter one and my essay, point two.


The first-fruit was a very small amount of the first crop harvest and the first-born was the first offspring of animals. The first-fruit was small enough to fit into a hand-held basket (Deut. 26:1-4, 10; Lev. 23:17; Num. 18:13-17; 2 Chron 31:5a).

First-fruit and first-born offerings went directly to the Temple and were required to be totally consumed by ministering priests only inside the Temple (Neh. 10:35-37a; Ex. 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 18:4). Tithes went directly to the Levitical cities (Neh 10:37b) and a small portion was then taken to the Temple storehouse (Neh 10:38-39).

Teaching that the first tenth of ones increase must go to the church organization is wrong. It is not taught to the Christian or the Church . It violates the instruction found in 1st Timothy 5:8 that one acts like an infidel if one does not care for family essentials first. And it robs the poorest in society of food, medicine and necessary care.


One argument to support non-food tithing is that money was not universally available and barter from food must have been used for most transactions. This argument is not biblical. Genesis alone contains “money” in 32 texts and the word occurs 44 times before the tithe is first mentioned in Leviticus 27. The word shekel also appears often from Genesis to Deuteronomy.

In fact many centuries before Israel entered Canaan and began tithing food from God’s Holy Land money was an essential everyday item. For example money in the form of silver shekels paid for slaves (Gen 17:12+); land (Gen 23:9+); freedom (Ex 23:11); court fines (Ex 21 all; 22 all); sanctuary dues (Ex 30:12+); vows (Lev 27:3-7); poll taxes (Num 3:47+), alcoholic drinks (Deu 14:26) and marriage dowries (Deu 22:29).

According to Genesis 47:15-17 food was only used for barter after money had been spent. Banking and usury laws exist in God’s Word in Leviticus even before tithing. Therefore the argument that money was not prevalent enough for everyday use is false. Yet the tithe contents never include money from non-food products and trades.


Thie lie can be easily refuted from both the Bible and from early church history. First, the OT Temple which was a literal physical building has been replaced by the body of the individual believer in which the Holy Spirit dwells. Second, the word "church" means "assembly" and not a building. The early church did not even have buildings for over 200 years after Calvary.


This lie is a gross distortion of the OT doctrine of tithing under the Law. First, the OT tithe went to the Levites who were both servants to the priests and who also served as government employees. Second, the Levites only gave a tenth of their tenth to the priests. Third, as tithe-recipients neither Levites nor priests were allowed to own or inherit land inside Israel.

All of these points are discussed in detail both in my book, Should the ChurchTeach Tithing, and in my essay, Tithing is Not a Christian Doctrine.

Russell Earl Kelly, Ph. D.

Patricia Backora said...

vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv1. The tithing ordinance was for Israel only and given by Moses from Mount Sinai (Leviticus 27:30-34). Tithes were taken only from the LAND (verse 30), and from anything nourished by the LAND OF ISRAEL (cattle, sheep, etc., verse 32). Today, preachers have taken the tithing burden off the Land and put it on God’s people. We are not under the Mosaic Covenant of Law, but under Grace (Rom.6:14; Gal.5:18). Going back under Mosaic Law brings a curse (Gal.3:10). If you pick one Mosaic Law to be under, you must keep them ALL, including circumcision, not eating ham, ceasing work on Saturday, etc.
Only Israelite farmers had to bring in tithes. Hired hands, midwives, fishermen, and tradesmen did not owe any tithes. Tithes were food for the poor (Deut.14:28-29). Not one scripture supports taking tithes on money or using tithes to construct church buildings.
The Israelite priesthood did not pay tithes. Lower-ranking Levites tithed to the priests after taking getting their own tithes from the people (Num.18:25-28). New Covenant believers are called Christ’s Royal Priesthood (I Pet.2:5,9). No apostle ever commands Christians to tithe. When Christians tithe, they deny their own priesthood in Christ Jesus. Preachers who demand tithes or “first-fruits” out of ordinary Christians are usurping Jesus’ place as only High Priest of the church. Unless some preacher can prove with a valid genealogical chart that he is descended from the priestly Tribe of Levi, he has no right to take tithes. And tithes were NEVER on money to begin with.
Abraham did not tithe from his personal estate. He tithed out of the spoils of wicked Sodom. If tithing predated the Law, so did circumcision. Why don't preachers enforce that today? Believe me, they would find every excuse under the sun to enforce it if they could make a few dollars off it!