SHOULD THE CHURCH TEACH TITHING?
CBS TRANSCRIPT AND COMMENTS

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Should the Church Teach Tithing?
A Theologian's Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Russ Kelly Video Essay on You Tube

Please email me at russell-kelly@att.net

TO TITHE OR NOT TO TITHE

CBS SUNDAY MORING NEWs, MARCH 2, 2008, 9 AM EST.

Comments by Russell Earl Kelly follow:

 

www.tithing-russkelly.com

russell-kelly@att.net

 

Note: This is the verbatim transcript from the video.  It differs extensively from the transcript provided by CBS online -- especially in the second half.

 

WRITTEN PROMO BEFORE THE SHOW:

(CBS) Tithing, the giving of one tenth of one’s income to a religious group, has its roots in the Old Testament. But some Christians are questioning it, and the answers might surprise you. In an era when contributions to religious groups are growing more slowly than other charitable giving, and as Congress takes a closer look at the finances of some televangelists, Martha Teichner examines the controversy over tithing, and meets some inspiring people who strongly believe in the power of generosity.

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Osgood: Good morning.  I am Charles Osgood and this is Sunday Morning. In churches across the land this morning clergy and lay people are pondering the mysteries of the spirit. But about how and how much to support the church financially is a great and spirited debate. Some believe and are quite specific in a continuing financial obligation to the church. Others feel it should be up to them to decide how and how much to give. Martha Teichner will be reporting our cover story. [0023-0114]

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NEWS; PROMOTION; COMMERCIALS

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Osgood: A spirited debate is pretty much guaranteed whenever people disagree over money. And the debate becomes even more intense when it has to do with religion.  Our cover story comes from Martha Teichner. [0817-0828]

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Baker: And when Jesus says I will build my church he says financially I have a system for you and its called tithing. [0829-34]

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Teichner: Tithing. It means giving a tenth of your income. Jesus said I will build my church and church construction is exactly what pastor Marty Baker is pitching his congregation to pay for. [0835-0848]

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Baker: "God doesn't fund the church through bingo nights, pancake suppers and chicken dinners. God funds the church through people willing to commit the tithe to him." [0849-0859]

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Teichner: Over twenty years, tithing has helped transform Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Georgia from a few people in somebody's living room to a megachurch in the making. [0900-0914]

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Baker:  Without tithing we would not be here. I would say that the tithe probably would be around 70% of our overall budget. The tithe is the heartbeat of our church. [0915-0926]

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PHOTO OF MUSLIM WORSHIP SERVICE

Teichner: Giving is central to most religions, a principle of faith. Americans donate $295 billion a year to charity, not quite 1/3rd of it - $97 billion - to religious organizations. [0926-0946]

 

[IN CBS TRANSCRIPT; NOT ON VIDEO] On average, Christians are giving about 2.5 percent of their income to churches, not ten, and no matter how much good it does, tithing is controversial.]

 

Teichner: About 4% of the population says they tithe but that’s still a lot of people. Tithing is also controversial.

[0947-59]

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Kelly: We believe that everything the churches teach about tithing is wrong. [1000-04]

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SCANS WEB SITE AND BOOK COVER

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Teichner: “To Tithe or Not to Tithe” is a question hotly debated on the Internet. [1005-09]

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Kelly: Should the Church Teach Tithing? is the name of my book. [SCANS WEB SITE ENDORSEMENTS] They are articles from various different persons who support, basically, my viewpoint. [1010-18]

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[NOT IN VIDEO: Teichner reports it's a hot button issue that has reached critical mass on the Internet.]
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Teichner: From his home near Marietta, Georgia [SCANS STUDY] Russell Kelly wages war... [1019-22]

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Kelly: I have proven in my book ... [1023-24]

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Teichner: ... against preachers who use the Bible to justify tithing. [1025-28]

 

[NOT IN VIDEO: His Web site, shouldthechurchteachtithing, argues against the supporters of tithing.]

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Kelly: We believe if you look at those texts they quote -- they are out of context. [1029-33]

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Teichner: But that's not his only objection. [1034-35]

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Kelly: Almost every person I contact on the Internet, they tell me the same story that, when they go to their pastor - no matter what kind of church it is, Baptist, Charismatic, Methodist, you name it - and start asking questions about tithing, they are told to shut up, to be quiet, to leave the church. [1036-55]

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SCENE: MARTHA TEICHNER WALKING WITH JANICE KELLY

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J. Kelly: And the preacher insisted that we tithe. [1056-58]

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Teichner: It happened to his own wife when her first husband was dying. [1059-1102]

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J. Kelly: I had a $5 an hour job, a small child to raise, my husband kept getting sicker and sicker. It came to the point whether I buy insulin for him or whether I pay my tithes, so I went to the preacher. [1103-14]

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Teichner: Janice Kelly didn't expect his response. [1115-17]

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J. Kelly: He just (pause) told me I would be cursed. [1118-19]

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SCENE CHANGES TO CHARLES CRABTREE:

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Crabtree: I'm angry that my church would twist and fleece the flock. [1120-27]     [NOT IN VIDEO: “-- twist the scripture to such a point that it's just awful.]

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Teichner: Retired aerospace worker Charles Crabtree got mad when he received this letter from his pastor. [1128-33]

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Crabtree: In that letter they were asking us to tithe and they used Malachi. [1134-39]

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Teichner: Malachi 3:10 is the most explicit biblical reference to tithing. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. [1140-48]    [NOT IN VIDEO: and test me now in this, says the Lord of hosts. If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.]

H. B.: Protestants, both mainline and evangelical, have since the 1870s, fixed upon the tithe and on this Malachi passage .....

[1149-1200]       [NOT IN VIDEO: As a kind of law that has never been repealed].

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Teichner: “Yes, only since the 1870s,” says James Hudnut-Beumler, dean of the divinity school at Vanderbilt University, It was a way of making up lost revenue. The First Amendment in effect privatized religion in the United States, cutting off the tax money that once supported it in colonial America. The weekly collection didn't even exist until the middle of the 19th century, when churches gave up selling or renting pews. [1201-33]
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H. B. : I'm somewhat suspicious of people who want to turn giving ten percent into virtually the only law that applies to people who are under a covenant of grace where God saves freely, not for ten percent. [1234-54]
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Teichner: He says he's reminded of Martin Luther, father of the Protestant movement, who broke away from the Catholic Church because it was selling indulgences: Promises of a quicker road to heaven in exchange for cash. [1255-1309]

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H. B. [NOT IN VIDEO: Stripped down to its basics," he says, "I don't think it's different than indulgences.] What we see today, though, is a return to 'this-for-that religion,' give God this and God will give you that. [1310-18]

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SCENE CHANGE TO SENATOR GRASSLEY:

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Grassley: Rolls Royces, Bentleys, corporate jets ... [1319-22]

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Teichner: Iowa’s Senator Charles Grassley wants to know how God happened to give the trappings of a billionaire lifestyle to certain televangelists and whether donors, many of them tithers, are being exploited. [1323-38]

...

Creflo Dollar: Every time I step off my plane the devils better get out of the way cause the blessing has landed. [1339-43]

 

Teichner: Grassley, a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, has requested financial records from six highflying ministers' -- accounts of their spending on everything from houses to those jets. [1344-58]

...

Copeland:: (Walking away from jet) Somebody ought to shout ‘Amen.’ [1359-1401]

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Teichner: Since churches are tax exempt, Kenneth Copeland and some of the other preachers targeted are balking at handing over documents. [1402-09]

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Copeland: "We answered them," he said. "We gave them a several page lesson on 'No.’'" [1410-1416]

Dayton: I am Howard Dayton. [1418-19]

 

Howard Dayton, co-founder of Crown Financial Ministries, doesn’t want scandals undermining tithing which he’s all for. [1420-27]

 

Dayton: Hey, Heidi. Thank you so much for being back on Money Matters. [1428-30]

 

Heidi: Hi. Thank you. [1431]

 

[1432-34] Teichner: Dayton runs a faith-based financial counseling service.

 

Dayton: Would you just give me a quick snapshot of where you are financially? [1435-38]

 

Teichner: His radio show can be heard on 4,000 stations worldwide in multiple languages. [1439-44]

[Caller: I think our number one goal, no matter what, do not cut out tithe. 1445-49]

 

Teichner: Often callers like this one are drowning in debt. [1450-54]

 

Male Interviewer: Howard, Heidi mentioned that they were going to continue paying their tithe ... [1455-57]

 

Dayton:  Yes. [1458]

 

Male Interviewer: ... even though they were still paying off all that debt. You would agree with that. [1459]

 

Dayton: Well, I would and the key in their case was they cut down in other areas. it’s not a ‘you have to pay a tithe.’ It’s a ‘you get to participate in helping other people, in helping to fund your local church or God’s work. It’s a privilege. [1501]

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[[Not in Video: “Tithing is a matter of obedience," says financial planner Bruce Williams. "To start with, it is commanded by the Bible."

Williams counsels his clients to start at ten percent.

"I would say 75 percent of the people I work with are already tithing or well beyond that. They are a generous lot."

Williams manages the Nashville office of
Ronald Blue & Co., a kind of faith-based Merrill Lynch, with fifteen offices around the U.S., that urges high net-worth believers to build giving into their financial planning, but with this caveat:

"Any giving should be done cheerfully and not under compulsion," says Williams. "It's a matter of the heart."
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Baker: You know that responsibility has been passed down to us. [1518]

 

Teichner] Back in Augusta, Georgia at Stephens Creek Church – just to make paying up easy Pastor Marty Baker has installed giving kiosks. Some parishioners call them God’s ATMs. Last year they took in $300.000. [1521]

 

Baker: "Every year we have a finance meeting," Baker says, "that we lay it all out, and say, 'This is what your money is being spent on.' You can look around here and see the growth of the congregation and it's very easy to determine what the money is being invested in." [1541]

Teichner: Stevens Creek supports a medical outreach program and several foreign missions. Other funds go to the shelter the church operates for the homeless in downtown Augusta. [1554]

Adams: "And yes, it takes money to do that." [1605]

 

Teichner: Mission coordinator Dorna Adams will gladly show the church's tithing dollars, including her own, at work.  [1609]

 

Adams: We are called to give 10 percent. My husband and I, our family, we believe in that." [1618]

 

Scene at a collection point.

 

Teichner: So does volunteer Connie Sivertson. For her, tithing is bedrock, not to be questioned. [1622]

 

Sivert: "The Lord says if you tithe, you know, anything else that you may have to skimp on because you've tithed, he will fulfill that." [1632]

Teichner: To tithe or not to tithe, that is the question no one asks here. [1642]

 

Sivert: "It makes me feel good. [1648]

Teichner: Here, they ask instead: What if everybody tithed? Think how much more could be done. [1650-1704]


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TIME ALLOCATIONS:

Osgood introductions:        1 min 2 sec

Teichner neutral comments:      40 sec

Grassley, Dollar, Copeland, etc: 57 seconds

Kelly: 49 sec/J. Kelly: 20 sec/Crabtree: 17 sec/H.B. 1 min 26 sec

Total: 2 minutes 52 seconds total

Dayton: 51 sec/ Baker’s 2 min 22 sec

Total: 3 min 19 sec

 

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Comments by Russell Earl Kelly

 

1.  This is the best exposure we have had yet.  It was necessary on a secular news source solely because the Christian media will not dialog.  There is really no “debate” at all with church leadership.

 

2. Charles Osgood’s opening remarks were excellent. He pointed out that the argument is not over whether to support churches at all but rather whether parishioners should be told exactly how much they should give.

 

3. It is unfortunate that Teichner defined tithes from the secular dictionary but that is what usually happens. Our interview was very long and I had pointed out the correct definition to her.

 

4. Baker’s opening remarks were merely to set the tone of the debate and that is probably why they received a few more seconds of time than we did.

 

Baker’s opening remark, “And when Jesus says I will build my church, he says financially I have a system for you and its called tithing” is totally wrong and I would love to be locked in a room with him with a camera and recorded running.

    Kelly: First, OT tithing was used to support its priesthood and that priesthood has been replaced by the NT priesthood, not of pastors, but of every believer. Second, when Jesus mentioned tithing in Matt 23:23 “the you” referred to the scribes, Pharisees and Jesus’ Jewish disciples because he was discussing matters “of the law” and the Pharisees “sit in Moses seat” (23:2,3). The “you” was not the church in Augusta, Georgia or anywhere else. Third, neither the OT tabernacle nor the OT Temple was built with tithes; they were only built from freewill offerings. Fourth, OT tithes were never used for mission work.

 

Baker next said: "God doesn't fund the church through bingo nights, pancake suppers and chicken dinners. God funds the church through people willing to commit the tithe to him."

    

Kelly: He has no valid to texts to verify this. Baker may be charismatic but he should build Christ’s church on God’s Word to the church. I wonder if he lives on borrowed land and refuses to own his own property like the OT required of those who received tithes.

 

Baker then said “Without tithing we would not be here. I would say that the tithe probably would be around 70% of our overall budget. The tithe is the heartbeat of our church.”

 

Kelly: Sounds good but it is not biblical. He should be saying “without sacrificial and generous freewill giving we would not be here.” If the implication is that the church could not survive and flourish if it did not teach tithing, then he is wrong. The world has many flourishing churches and Bible schools that do not teach tithing. Mr. Baker should give New Covenant principles a chance to see what God can accomplish.

 

5.  I said (Kelly): “We believe that everything the churches teach about tithing is wrong.” We believe if you look at those texts they quote -- they are out of context.” “Almost every person I contact on the Internet -- they tell me the same story that, when they go to their pastor - no matter what kind of church it is, Baptist, Charismatic, Methodist, you name it - and start asking questions about tithing, they are told to shut up, to be quiet, to leave the church.”

 

There is no reply from the pro-tithing segment. It shows that there really is not a debate going on among those who should be attempting to prove us wrong from God’s Word.

 

6.  Teichner’s comment that I am “at war” was a total surprise.  Those words have not come out of my mouth and have not appeared in any of my writings. It is true though.

 

7.  My wife’s sincerity and honest experience cannot be denied.  I have read numerous blogs which mention it.

 

8. Crabtree’s anger was good for the show.  It is real and the pro-tithing leaders need to know that we are ready to meet them and will not run or refuse to answer questions as they do.

 

9. Hudnut-Beumler was great and cannot be refuted. I demonstrate that scripture is against tithing and he demonstrates that U. S. history is against it. The evidence is overwhelmingly supportive of our viewpoint.

 

10. The sheer audacity of Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland helped our argument and did nothing to advance the pro-tithing argument.

 

11. In my opinion Howard Dayton made a fool of himself. His segment and the Marty Baker segment are obviously staged. They picked the exact persons they wanted who would say exactly what they wanted said. I wonder how much money this “faith-based non-profit financial adviser” earns while telling others to cut corners. I had told Teichner that he and his fellows absolutely will not dialog with us. Of course he “doesn’t want scandals undermining tithing.” He makes a lot of money going from church to church (of all denominations) and teaching tithing.  It does not matter how biblical and contradictory their other doctrines might be –as long as they teach tithing he will encourage them.

 

Heidi, the caller had called before (according to the printed transcript). Rather than chose somebody who disagreed with him on tithing she was chosen to say what he wanted.

 

Heidi was a) drowning in debt, b) still making payments on her debt, c) has been tithing and d) refuses to stop tithing says, “I think our number one goal, no matter what -- do not cut out tithe.”

 

An interviewer asks Dayton, “Even though they were still paying off all that debt. You would agree with that?”

 

Dayton replies: “I would and the key in their case was they cut down in other areas.”

 

My comment: This sample question was selected and easy and did not address the problem pointed out by Janice Kelly. What do you do when you simply cannot buy medicine and essentials and have to chose between tithing and doing without them?

 

Dayton then said, “It’s not a ‘you have to pay a tithe.’

 

My comment: That is simply not what all of the literature says from Crown Financial Services and from Lifeway Christian book store. They both teach that the tithe is the “minimum expectation” and is to be given BEFORE other bills as a “firstruit.” His final comments “It’s a ‘you get to participate” and “It’s a privilege” are contradictory to most of what he teaches in writing.

 

12. Bruce Williams was interviewed and edited out but his remarks are in the CBS version of the transcript for the show. He disagrees with Dayton’s “It’s not you have to” remark by saying “Tithing is a matter of obedience. To start with, it is commanded by the Bible." I wonder if this contradiction is why he was edited out.

 

The transcript continues, Williams counsels his clients to start at ten percent. This is the cornerstone argument of tithing which I wanted to contend with the most. It is based on the false assumption that everybody in the OT was required to begin their level of giving at 10% when, in reality, it only applied to farmers and herdsmen who lived inside Israel (Lev 27:30-35).

 

Williams is then quoted, "I would say 75 percent of the people I work with are already tithing or well beyond that. They are a generous lot."

 

Kelly: If “75% of those who call in to his program for financial advice are “already tithing,” then WHY aren’t them ALREADY being blessed so much that they do not have any financial problems? I thought that is why the Christian is supposed to tithe – so that the financial ‘windows of heaven” will open for them and so that they will have more than they need!

 

We are then told that Williams has over 15 offices and appeals to “high net-worth believers.”

 

Kelly: Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill and many atheists have these same kinds of seminars and their clients usually prosper without tithing!!! These people are prospering financially, not because they are tithing, but because they are using sound financial principles of success!!!  That why generations of tithe-paying ghetto dwellers remain in the ghettos – they do not learn common-sense SECULAR principles of success.  In other words, the success is NOT the result of tithig. Rather it is the result of applying SECULAR principles of success!!!

 

Williams ended by saying "Any giving should be done cheerfully and not under compulsion. It's a matter of the heart."

 

Kelly: I say. You are playing games now. Tell that to Wall Street where your investments are making you money. Tell it to the atheists who make the same kind of profits. You and your “high roller” friends are not working the stock boards “cheerfully.” No. You are COMPELLED to work them using “high roller” business principles. “Usury” from fellow believers was a SIN in the Old Testament where tithing was practiced. In other words Hebrews were NOT allowed to make a profit from loans or investments.

 

13. The final segment goes back to Baker’s church in Augusta and seems (to me at least) to end in a prejudicial view of pro-tithing. Everything is staged and key players are selected to give the “right” statements to make tithing look good.

 

The tithing kiosks, or ATMs, are shown. Gone is the personalized gratification of putting your money into an offering plate. Now it is all business. That is what I got from the discussion.

 

Baker said, "Every year we have a finance meeting that we lay it all out, and say, 'This is what your money is being spent on.' You can look around here and see the growth of the congregation and it's very easy to determine what the money is being invested in."

 

Kelly: I commend open records but this has nothing to do with the issue of tithing being discussed. Does Baker allow open discussion questioning the validity of tithing or does he chastise those who dare question it?

 

Teichner: Stevens Creek supports a medical outreach program and several foreign missions. Other funds go to the shelter the church operates for the homeless in downtown Augusta.”

 

Kelly: Again this is good but it is off the subject. If 70% of the funds are from tithes then they are being used in ways other than permitted in the Old Covenant where tithes did not fund mission work.


Adams: "And yes, it takes money to do that."

 

Kelly: Irrelevant and off subject again.

 

Teichner: Mission coordinator Dorna Adams will gladly show the church's tithing dollars, including her own, at work.

 

Kelly: Irrelevant and off subject again a third time.

 

Adams: We are called to give 10 percent. My husband and I, our family, we believe in that."

 

Kelly: She would not consider that her pastor might be teaching error. She was carefully chosen to be on the video to parrot what the church wanted her to say.

 

Teichner: So does volunteer Connie Sivertson. For her, tithing is bedrock, not to be questioned.

 

Kelly: Of course. It is probably better to say that she “dare not question tithing.” That is why Hadnut-Beumler’s proof that no Protestant church in the U. S. practiced tithing before 1870 is so damaging to their doctrinal position which they will not defend.

 

Sivert: "The Lord says if you tithe, you know, anything else that you may have to skimp on because you've tithed, he will fulfill that."

 

Kelly: This is not true. She is parroting the line that tithes are the same as firstfruits and must be paid first, even before essentials such as medicine, food and shelter. Skimp on those but pay the tithe –or else God will curse you.


Teichner: To tithe or not to tithe, that is the question no one asks here.

 

Sivert: "It makes me feel good.

 

Kelly: So do mind bending drugs and alcohol. So do charismatic leaders like Jim Jones and Adolph Hitler.  But that does not make it right.

 

Teichner: Here, they ask instead: What if everybody tithed? Think how much more could be done.

 

Kelly: The biblical veracity of the doctrine is assumed and nobody dare question it. How sad indeed. Once again emotional preaching by a charismatic leader trumps the truth of God’s Word.

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