SHOULD THE CHURCH TEACH TITHING?
30. Tithing Principles for Tithe-Teaching Churches

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Should the Church Teach Tithing?
A Theologian's Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
tithing-russkelly.com
russkellyphd@yahoo.com

Video Essay on You Tube

russkellyphd@yahoo.com

E-mail me with comments and questions.

 

“We teach Biblical tithing principles” is heard from many pulpits.” “Do you really?” I ask. This chapter has been carefully written to assist those who want to follow the tithing principles found in God’s Word. Although I am sincerely not aware of any Christian Church that observes ANY of them, God’s Word commanded that His Old Covenant people obey ALL of them. 

 

PRINCIPLE #1: Only pastors (elders, bishops) can function as priests and minister all aspects of spiritual reconciliation.

Replace 1 Peter 2:9, 10; Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 with Numbers 18:1, 5 and 3:12.

 

PRINCIPLE #2: Tithes must go to only one family in the assembly which alone can perform all of the duties associated with worship and the construction and maintenance of the worship building (Numbers 18:1-4).

 

PRINCIPLE #3: Only the patriarch of this family and his sons can mediate for the congregation as a priestly family. They are the only ones allowed inside the worship building itself. They are also the only ones allowed to approach God and ask for forgiveness in behalf of the congregation.

Num 18:1 Then the LORD said to Aaron, You and your sons and your father's house with you shall bear the iniquity related to the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity associated with your priesthood. NKJV

 

PRINCIPLE #4: Important! The first whole tithe must go only to the servant-Levites, brothers of the leaders.  This principle is always ignored!

Num 18:21 Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. [not the priests]

Num 18:22 Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and die.

Num 18:23 But the Levites [not the priests] shall perform the [non-priestly] work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. NKJV

 

PRINCIPLE #5: The congregation must allow the Levites (both servants and priests) to live on land provided for free for ever but remains in the ownership of the ordinary members.

Num 35:2 Command the children of Israel that they give the Levites cities to dwell in from the inheritance of their possession, and you shall also give the Levites common-land around the cities.

Num 35:3 They shall have the cities to dwell in; and their common-land shall be for their cattle, for their herds, and for all their animals. NKJV

 

PRINCIPLE #6: The whole tithe which belongs to the servant-Levites must be brought, not to the worship building, but to the Levitical cities where all of the Levites must live most of the time at their farms with their herds. (Num. 35; Josh 20, 21).

Neh. 10:37  …to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities.

Neh 10:38 And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes …NKJV

 

PRINCIPLE #7: The servant-Levites who receive the whole tithe must not minister as pastors (elders, bishops, priests) and must not enter into the worship building. The tithe-receiving servant-Levites must only function as fabric-weavers (Num 3:25, 26), builders of interior household items (Num 3:31), builders of tent-poles and outside cookware (Num 3:36), soldiers (1 Chron 12:26), builders and artisans  (1 Chron 23:4), supervisors and judges (23:4), guards and doorkeepers (23:5), choir members and musicians (23:5), bakers (23:29) and political employees (26:29-32)

Num 18:2 Also bring with you your brethren of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may be joined with you and serve you while you and your sons are with you before the tabernacle of witness. NKJV

 

PRINCIPLE #8: Only the pastors (elders, bishops, priests) can enter the worship building. All others, including the servant-Levites who receive the whole tithe, must be put to death if they attempt to worship God directly.

Num 18:3 They [Levites] shall attend to your needs and all the needs of the tabernacle; but they shall not come near the articles of the sanctuary and the altar, lest they die — they and you also.

Num 18:4 They [Levites] shall be joined with you and attend to the needs of the tabernacle of meeting, for all the work of the tabernacle; but an outsider shall not come near you.

Num 18:7 Therefore you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for everything at the altar and behind the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood to you as a gift for service, but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death." NKJV

Num 18:22 Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and die. NKJV

 

PRINCIPLE #8: The pastors (elders, bishops, priests) must eat their portions of the offerings inside the worship building (Num 18:8-18). They must eat the first-born of clean animals and the first-fruit offerings inside the worship building (Neh. 10:35-37). These cannot be taken home and shared with their families. Tithes are not the same as first-fruit.

Neh 10:35 And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the LORD;

Neh 10:36 to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God;

Neh 10:37 to bring the first-fruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God …

 

PRINCIPLE #9: Pastors (elders, bishops, parents) keep all items presented as vows and all redemption money (18:14, 15, 16).

 

PRINCIPLE #10: The servant-Levites who assist the leaders cannot own or inherit property. 

Num 18:23 But the Levites shall perform the work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. NKJV

 

PRINCIPLE #11: When the tithe is paid to the Levite-servant class, they must give only one tenth of the tithe which they receive to the pastors (elders, bishops, priests). This tenth of the tithe cannot be used for any other purpose. (This is an ignored concept today.)

Num 18:26 Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: 'When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the LORD, a tenth of the tithe.

Num 18:27 And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress.

Num 18:28 Thus you shall also offer a heave offering to the LORD from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the LORD's heave offering from it to Aaron the priest.

Neh 10:38 And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse.

 

PRINCIPLE #12: In exchange for receiving their tenth of the tithe, pastors (elders, bishops, priests) cannot own or inherit hand. Be careful not to ignore this principle.

Num 18:20 Then the LORD said to Aaron: "You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel. NKJV

 

PRINCIPLE #13: Pastors (elders, bishops, priests) do not pay tithes. They offer back to God the very best from which they receive from their tenth of the tenth (18:29).

Num 18:29 Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave offering due to the LORD, from all the best of them, the consecrated part of them.'

Num 18:30 Therefore you shall say to them: 'When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress.

 

PRINCIPLE #14: Priests can eat the tithe anywhere (18:31, 32), but they must eat the first-fruit and offerings only inside the worship building.

Num 18:31 You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting.

Num 18:32 And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die.'"

 

PRINCIPLE #15: Both pastors and their Levite-servants normally will only work in the worship center one week out of twenty four. They must spend the remainder of their lives either raising and feeding (tithed) animals or learning trades needed for the maintenance of the worship building and ruler.

1 Chron. chapters 24-26; 28:13, 21; 2 Chron. 8:14; 23:8; 31:2, 15-19; 35:4, 5, 10; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 11:19, 30; 12:24; 13:9, 10; Luke 1:5

 

PRINCIPLE #16: All costs for the worship building and maintenance must be paid by head taxes and freewill-offerings and not by tithes. Tithes can only be used to support Levites and priests.

Ex 30:13-15; 35:2, 3, 21, 22; Num 3:47-50; 1 Chronicles 28

 

PRINCIPLE #17: Tithes are always only food

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; Matt. 23:23; Luke 11: 42

 

PRINCIPLE #18: Poor church members are not required to pay tithes. The church assembly must have programs to assist the poor.

Lev. 14:21; 25:6, 25-28, 35, 36; 27:8; Deu. 12:1-19; 14:23, 28, 29; 15:7, 8, 11; 24:12, 14, 15, 19, 20; 26:11-13; Mal. 3:5; Matt. 12:1, 2; Mark 2:23, 24; Luke 2:22-24; 6:1, 2; 2 Cor. 8:12-14; 1 Tim. 5:8; Jas. 1:27

 

PRINCIPLE #19: Spoils of war gained by church members may be distributed following any of the following Biblical examples: (1) 10% to the local priest-king and 90% to a designated king of Sodom (Genesis 14:16-24); (2) .1% to the priests and 1% to the Levites according to the 1 of 10 ratio of the Law ordinance of Numbers 31:21, 27-30) or (3) unlike regular tithes, spoils of war may be dedicated towards the maintenance of the church building (1 Chronicles 26:26-27).

 

PRINCIPLE #20:  Tithes must not be used for evangelism of non-church members.

      Ex. 23:32; 34:12, 15; Deut. 7:2

 

PRINCIPLE #21: A second tithe must be brought to the city where the church headquarters is located. This second tithe must be consumed by worshippers in the streets during celebration. If travel distance is too far, this tithe may be turned into fermented beer and alcoholic wine for consumption during the church celebration calendar. It is not for salaries.

       Deuteronomy 12:1-19; 14:22-26

 

PRINCIPLE #22: Every third year a third tithe for the poor must be kept available in the homes of church members to feed the poor which includes the Levites and priests. This third-year tithe is not for salaries.

       Deuteronomy 14:28, 29; 26: 12, 13

 

PRINCIPLE #23: Every seventh (7th) year and every fiftieth (50th) year no tithes of food from the fields shall be brought to the Levites.

Ex 23:11; Lev 25:4, 11

    

PRINCIPLE #23: Pastors (elders, bishops) functioning as priests and ministering all aspects of spiritual reconciliation in the church must bear full responsibility for the failures of the church.  As such the curses of Malachi are directed squarely upon them should they in any way abuse the tithe. (See Malachi 1:6 to 3:5.)

Mal 1:6 Where is My reverence? Says the LORD of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, 'In what way have we despised Your name?'
Mal 1:14 But cursed be the deceiver Who has in his flock a male, And takes a vow, But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished —  For I am a great King," Says the LORD of hosts, "And My name is to be feared among the nations.

2:1 And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. 2:2 If you will not hear, And if you will not take it to heart, To give glory to My name," Says the LORD of hosts, "I will send a curse upon you, And I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, Because you do not take it to heart. NKJV

3:3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness.

 

PRINCIPLE #24: Garden spices must be carefully weighed and counted in order to insure tithes are paid correctly.

Matthew 23:23; Luke 21:42 (ignore Matt 23: 2, 33; Luke 21:41)

 

PRINCIPLE #25: Contrary to Malachi 3:9, some New Covenant tithe-payers who are modern Pharisees may receive woes, or curses, even though they tithe.   

      Mathew 23:23; Luke 11:42; 18:12

Southern Baptists and Tithing:

Although I consider myself to be a true Baptist in agreement with the spiritual heart of their published statements from 1644 to 1923, I do not agree with the shift which has taken place in recent years. Moreover, I believe that events very similar to those found among the Baptists are ­ taking place in many other conservative churches. I encourage each reader to research his/her own church to discover exactly when it first began teaching tithing. I believe that most denominations which have emerged outside of the European church-state environment, like the Baptists, did not begin teaching tithing for many years. If this is true, then it is self-incriminating.

According to the Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, tithe, a tax placed on American colonists to support state church was especially opposed by Baptists. It says that they paid little attention to voluntary tithing chiefly because “In the middle of the 18th century all other concerns were engulfed in a vast and quite successful period of revival which added great numbers to the churches, but which laid much greater emphasis on ­ evangelical fervor than on systematic benevolence.” Evidently, when the fervor of successful evangelism slowed, it was time to focus more on ­ giving principles.

In an implied admission that tithing had not been a standard of giving since the first confession in 1644, the article continues, “Many churches, in fact, were definitely opposed to what they considered a ‘hireling ministry,’ and paid their preachers nothing. Preachers who were supported at all usually received food or farm products such as tobacco, or occasionally whiskey, which could be exchanged for money. At least until the beginning of the 19th century, most Baptist ministers worked at secular jobs in addition to preaching.”

Therefore, instead of being an eternal moral principle, tithing had to very slowly evolve among Southern Baptists. Their Encyclopedia recounts that a layman initiated a tithing position in the 1890’s and that it was ­ proposed and rejected by the Convention in 1894. After World War I, “various promotional movements” were launched by several denominations to convince the laity to tithe. Although a strong campaign began among Southern Baptists in 1921, it failed to place tithing or tithing texts in the 1925 Faith and Message. Since the Convention has very aggressively promoted tithing again, beginning as far back as 1947, the 1963 Faith and Message revealed some progress in its evolution when it, for the first time, listed major tithing texts, but still did not include the word, tithe.

The Southern Baptist’s official statement of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message, is widely distributed for all to read. This document still does not contain the word, tithe! However, behind this outward statement is the controlling, yet almost unknown (to most parishioners) Stewardship Position Paper, adopted in June 1997. The Position Paper is the current leadership’s interpretation and application of the general stewardship statement. It is clearly an effort to usurp the local church’s authority to determine its own doctrinal stance in matters of giving principles.

It is the Position Paper, and not the Faith and Message statement, which MUST be followed for all stewardship-related teaching and publications such as Sunday School literature. Since partial quotations are forbidden, I shall summarize what it says. The first of seven paragraphs says that tithing is the clear biblical stance which must be used as the basis for all denominational employees who write denominational literature on stewardship. (You will have to go out of your way to read this for yourself.) In other words, hidden behind the officially distributed Faith and Message, the Position Paper compels employees who produce the unofficial literature to teach tithing. However, while tithing is “fair game,” the Convention leadership would not dare issue position papers on other current divisive issues such as the inspiration of the Bible, prophetic interpretations, biblical hermeneutics, or hierarchy-controlled leadership.

Referring to tithing, the fifth paragraph of the Position Paper uses the word, standard, six times and the sixth paragraph uses the word, expectation, once. Denominational employees are thus ordered to teach tithing and they “must not” replace it with any other approach to giving. Therefore, unofficially, tithing is the only acceptable standard and expectation of giving.

Any person who has read the introductory pages of The Baptist Faith and Message will see in the Position Paper a forcing of the conscience ­ contrary to the very nature of Baptist churches. Although there have been many Baptist statements of faith since the first one in 1644, it took over 300 years for merely the tithing texts like Genesis 14:20, Leviticus 27:30-32 and Malachi 3:9-10 to first appear in the 1963 The Baptist Faith and Message! Why? The previous Faith of 1925 did not include any tithing texts! Again I ask, “Why?” Although brochures on tithing overwhelm the literature rack inside most Southern Baptist Churches, the word, tithe, still does not appear in the 1998 revision of the Faith and Message! Why? Yet an Internet search on the S.B.C. site produces articles about some of their churches which already require church members to “tithe.”

I have tried unsuccessfully to engage any S.B.C. leader in a dialog about tithing. As I said before, I suspect that similar events are presently occurring in too many conservative churches today. I know that other Baptists groups have adopted strong pro-tithe statements and I personally that the Assemblies of God, the Church of God and many Pentecostal churches are being challenged by sincere members seeking dialog. Why, why, why are conservative Christians afraid to come out into the open and discuss this matter?

Contrary to the Position Paper, first, tithing was never the “standard” for the poor and for craftsmen and traders—only landowners and herdsmen. Second, the original tithe to the Levite priest-helpers was never the “best” or “first”—it was the “tenth” (Lev. 27:30-32). Only the Levites gave a “best” of their tenth of the tithe (Num. 18:25-28). Third, the New Covenant demands different better “standards” of grace giving since the priests had changed from the Aaronic priests to the priesthood of every believer (Heb. 7:5, 12, 18). Fourth, again, since tithing was never the minimum “beginning” point in Old Covenant giving, then it should not be such in the New Covenant. Fifth, tithing is clearly not an “expectation” from the poor or Gentiles in the New Covenant church (2 Cor. 8:12-14; 9:7; Acts 15:5, 10, 19, 20). Sixth, the very definition of tithe to include non-food income is not biblical.

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