Kelly has been the subject of media coverage including participating in a live 90 minute tithing debate
in London on Revelation TV. On November 23, 2007, the Wall Street Journal published an article by Suzanne Sataline, The Backlash Against Tithing, for which Kelly was a major contributor. On March 2, 2008 Russell was featured on the CBS Sunday Morning news cover story, To Tithe or Not to Tithe. He was subsequently mentioned in Charisma Magazine online.
Raised in a Baptist home being one
of six children, Russell grew up in Jacksonville, Florida before the family moved to Marietta, Georgia while he was in the
tenth grade in 1960. From June 1962 until June 1966 he was in the U. S. A. F., learned Chinese Mandarin at Yale University
and was soon promoted to the Transcription Department while serving in Taiwan. In 1964 Russell married. He presently resides in Washington, Ga. and is married to Donna Hope Cram.
M.: Covington Theological Seminary, Ft Oglethorpe, Ga; cum laude Ph. D.: Covington Theological Seminary, Ft Oglethorpe, Ga; 2000; cum laude
Russell graduated Cum Laude from Sprayberry High in 1962. From June 1962 until June 1966 he was in the U. S. A. F., received 22 semester hours in Chinese
Mandarin at Yale University and was soon promoted to the Transcription Department while serving in Taiwan. Russell graduated
Cum Laude from Southern Missionary College in Tennessee in 1976, now called Southern University Of Seventh Day Adventist,
and served two churches in Georgia, four in North Dakota and one in South Carolina.
Although legally blind
since 1989, Russell subsequently completed a Th. M.. and a Ph. D. at independent Baptist-oriented Covington Theological Seminary
in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia in August 2000. His dissertation was on the subject of tithing. From that dissertation came his
first book, Should the Church Teach Tithing? A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine. His second book is Exposing
Seventh-day Adventism, published in 2005. His third book, From Gethsemane to Ascension, An Ultimate Harmony of the Gospel,
Easter and Resurrection Plays, February 2008, is in conversational style.
Criticism and countercriticism
say that because his education is from unaccredited schools his Ph.D. is fraudulent. Others will challenge Russell's sincerely and his motives. In response, Russell provides a webpage regarding his
education and abilities, including having graduated "cum laude" from the Yale University Institutes of Far Eastern languages while in the U.S. Air Force, earning 22 semester hours and received a B.A. from Southern
University Of Seventh Day Adventist, which is fully accredited. He notes that there are hundreds of religious schools that
do not want the government telling them how or what to teach. Having been legally blind since 1989 and not able to drive,
his choices of education were severely limited.
Theologically, Russell is a conservative evangelical dispensational
Baptist. He spends much of his time writing and is available for travel. His favorite hobby is singing gospel, Elvis
(Tribute Artist), Marty Robbins and Frank Sinatra. As of June 2013 he lives in Washington, Georgia,
After "Should the Church Teach Tithing" was published in January 2001,
multiple sources addressed the book.
A July 2003 Christianity Today letter to the editor stated, "Next to the Bible this book will change your life. It is that theologically sound and
powerful. There are many good theological books on this subject, but this book (theological, academic, not for the faint of
heart) should be read by anyone wanting the 'facts' as related to scripture, time and history and the church."
In 2003, New Jerusalem Ministries listed the book for suggested reading.
In 2004, Dr. David Alan Black at SEBTS published an essay in tithing in agreement with Kelly.
November 6, 2006: Andreas J. Köstenberger and David A. Croteau, “Will a Man Rob God? (Malachi
3:8): A Study of Tithing in the Old and New Testaments.” In Bulletin of Biblical Research 26.1 (2006).[clarification needed]
November 23, 2007: The Wall Street Journal published an article by Suzanne Sataline, The Backlash
Against Tithing.[clarification needed]
November 27, 2007: In response to the WSJ article, the BPNEWS, Baptist Press, published an article,
The Bible and Giving, by Dr. Daniel Akin, President Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on The Bible and Giving. Except
for his opening statement, the article is exactly what Kelly teaches in his book and on his web site.
2007: WAVA-FM in Washington, D. C. mentions Russell Kelly, his book and web site.
March 2, 2008: As a result of the WSJ articles Kelly was interviewed in his home and featured on the CBS
Sunday Morning News cover story, To Tithe or Not to Tithe. The video has remained very popular online. Transcripts are available.
March 7, 2008: BPNEWS, Baptist Press, published a long rebuttal of Kelly's 2 minute CBS News comments by
Dr. Kenneth Hemphill in which both his name and book were mentioned. Kelly has since repeatedly attempted to persuade Dr. Hemphill to dialog with him, accessible from Kelly's blog.
March 11, 2008: Charisma Magazine mentioned Russell Kelly and the CBS article on the first page of its
July 18, 2008: The Texas Baptist Standard (SBC) printed Kelly's comments in response to a tithing
September 14, 2008: The St. Petersburg Times mentioned Russell Kelly and his book, Should the Church Teach
Tithing in a news article.
On March 30, 2011 he participated in a live 90 minute tithing debate in London on Revelation TV. The trip
was paid for by a friend.
^Kelly, Russell. Should the Church Teach Tithing,
A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine. ISBN0595159788.
High School: Sprayberry, Marietta, Georgia,
1962; Cum Laude
B.A.; Southern University of SDA (fully accredited)
1976; cum laude; minor: Theology; Biblical Greek (18 hours);
History; Pastoral Leadership
Minor: Yale University; 1963; Chinese Mandarin;
22 semester hours; cum laude
..... Other Fully Accredited Courses, Kennesaw University, GA; Valley City State College, ND ..... Other Accomplishments: Complete Business Management, LsSalle,
Chicago, ILL; Master Course Color TV Servicing, National Technical Schools,
Los Angeles, CA; Amateur Radio Operator’s General License, N4FVA; Some language skills in Hebrew, Spanish and Latin ..... Accredited by Non-Government Agencies:Th. M.: Covington Theological
Seminary, Ft Oglethorpe, Ga; cum laudePh. D.: Covington Theological Seminary, Ft
Oglethorpe, Ga; 2000; cum laudeCovington
is a member of the Association of Christian Education Schools and Seminaries (ACESS). Covington is a member of the Accrediting Commission International (ACI).
Covington is affiliated with
the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) of Washington, DC.
When bloggers have exhausted themselves trying to refute my biblical and
historical arguments from my book and web site, they occasionally will turn to personal challenges of my sincerity, motives
and education. I admit that my Th. M. and Ph. D. are not from a “fully government-accredited school.”I have been legally blind since 1989 and read with great magnification. Since I do hot have the blessing of being able
to drive, that severely limited my choices of education and I turned to Covington to finish my education.
In my opinion it is not necessary to have a degree in theology from an accredited school because the Federal Governmen
is not qualied to judge the "accuracy" of one's theology.
I think that it is essential to expect supervised monitoring of subjects such as medicine and law that cannot possibly apply
to theology. The fact that a school is fully accredited says absolutely nothing about the correctness of its theology or the
student being able to leave that school with God’s truth. There are hundreds of religious schools that refuse to even seek accreditation because they do not want the government
telling them how and what to teach.
My country has fully accredited seminaries which are operated to train such
theologically diverse churches as Roman Catholics, Mormons, Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians -- both liberals and conservatives.
Their theology and approach to discovering biblical truth differ very radically. The Assembly of God accredits its own schools
anddoes not seek government accreditation.
My B. A. in Theology is from a fully accredited Seventh-day Adventist school which gradates very good doctors,
nurses and business majors but it also graduates very poor theologians.No sane person would argue that
my SDA theology is better and more defensible than my theology from Covington merely because it is more accredited.
Look at the quality of my book.Read
the seminary level hermeneutics applied within. These study techniques were learned at fully accredited schools before
I went to Covington, including Yale University. I have proven my intelligence and ability to produce accredited level research.
My biblical Greek and church history minors come from a fully accredited school.I graduated
“cum laude” from the Yale University Institute of Far Eastern languages while in the U. S. Air Force and earned
22 semester hours.I apply the discipline required to produce quality writing.No schools had accreditation when the U. S.A. was new.All of its great leaders either graduated from un-accredited schools or from no schools at all. Abraham Lincoln studied
at home and passed the bar exam.
Billy Graham’s D. D. is honorary. Charles Stanley, Spiros Zodhiates and
former SBC President Jerry Vines graduated from Luther Rice Seminary before it was accredited by TRACS in 1989. The famous
Walter Martin (Kingdom of the Cults) graduated from an unaccredited school. And the list could fill a normal-sized book.How good is an education from Covington?Like
any other school it is as good as the student wants it to be.Is it a “diploma bill”? Far from
it!Fourteen of its schools in the U. S. and many more overseas are classroom education.Its
textbooks are the same ones used in fully accredited seminaries.It does not use tape recordings and it
does not use multiple choice tests. Test answers must be found through reading the assigned material.
My Ph. D.
dissertation was the same length as that required by fully accredited schools and was reviewed
and approved by a committee. I am confident that it would meet the standards of fully accredited schools.Look at the list of schools which have Covington graduates on
The list below was only from the first five pages of Google under “Covington
Theological Seminary.” The majority of Covington graduates also have earned degrees from fully accredited seminaries.
Very often the Covington degreefollows a M. Div. from schools such as Dallas, Moody or Southern Baptist
Seminaries. (Moody Bible Institute does not seek accreditation either.)
Waylan Owens, a former vice president at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary who was in charge of guiding accreditation-related
matters, cautioned that accreditation might not be the best mark of a seminary's quality.
Though the accreditation
process allows schools to set their own educational goals, a postmodern mindset among accrediting agencies compromises the
value of accreditation, Owens told Baptist Press.
"Parents and churches assume [accreditation] means one thing,
and it doesn't," said Owens, who still teaches at Southeastern and serves as pastor of GoodHopeBaptistChurch in Wake Forest, N.C.
Accreditation does not guarantee that your son or daughter will walk across that stage with a quality education."
Accrediting agencies do not dictate what a school must believe theologically, but many accrediting agencies hold liberal
values and have an educational philosophy that is different from the educational philosophy of most Southern Baptists, Owens
"There is no direct pressure on your doctrinal statement. There is indirect pressure,” he said.
“I don't know how the accreditors really can help it. The whole educational establishment is liberal in its thinking....
The way a conservative does education and the way a liberal does education are really in some places very different.
“Liberals approach education as being a matter of just exploring -- there is no right, there is no wrong, let's
just look at all sides of things and try to create a tolerant open-minded person,” Owens explained. “A conservative
says no. We want to teach everything that's out there. But we are going to advocate what we believe to be true.”
Within the educational world, there is some pressure to put the federal government in charge of all accreditation
in higher education, Owens said. If that happens, liberal influence in accrediting agencies likely will increase, he said. .......... COVINGTON EXTENSION SCHOOLS WITH CLASSROOM EDUCATION:
Alabama – Coastal; Mobile; Ebenezar Missionary Baptist; Herb
Collier, Alabama – Northeast; Anniston; First Baptist Church, Weaver,
Alabama, David BoydAlabama – Southeast; Opp; First Baptist Church,
Georgia – Central; Carrolton; Shady Grove Baptist;
Jerome MitchellGeorgia – Northeast; Ft Oglethorpe; Covington; Bob McFarlandGeorgia - Rome; Greater New Fellowship Missionary Baptist; J E CoombsGeorgia
– Southeast; Savannah; Dean Forest Baptist Church; Larry StricklandMissouri;
Calvary Bible College, Kansas City; Mike PiburnNorth Carolina - Western; Love Memorial
Baptist, Gastonia NC; Jimmy WestmorelandSouth Carolina – Central; Turbeville;
First Baptist Church; Bob CravenSouth Carolina -Eastern, Aiken; Town Creek Baptist;
Joe YoungbloodSouth Carolina – Upstate; Central; Bishop Branch Baptist;
Luther PriceTennessee – Southeast; Chattanooga; Jones-Spence Center; Jay
TrimbleTennessee – East; Knoxville; Rogers Memorial Baptist; Michael
SCHOOLS WITH COVINGTON GRADUATES ON STAFF:
(from only five pages from Google)
CCBI; Caribbean College of the Bible International; Assembly of God association; David Sneed College for Global Deployment; Gregory Romine; Cynthia Romine; Covenant
Bible Institute, Portal, Georgia; Steve Coyle, faculty Foothills Theological
Schools, Brian Ezell, Pastor Broad River Baptist Church, Rutherfordton, NCGulf
Coast Bible Institute; Ft Walton Beach, FL; gcbi.org (does not seek accreditation )
Hannibal-LaGrange College; Hannibal, Missouri. Fully accredited
four-year liberal arts college.
Higher Learning Commission of
the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Journey Churches Inc,
Acworth, Ga; Douglas Crumbley Massillon Baptist College, Massillion, Ohio; Mid-Continent University, Mayfield, Kentucky Revival and Missions
International (partnership)South Florida
Bible College and Theological Seminary, Deerfield Beach, Florida. American Federation of Colleges and Seminaries; State of FloridaAssociation of
Christian Schools International (ACSI); The Bureau of State Approving
for Veterans Training; American Psychological
Association (APA). Western Bible College; Phoenix, Arizona.WesternBibleCollege (WBC) is endorsed by the Commission on Christian Higher
Education (COCHE) of the General Council of the Assemblies of God. Because of this endorsement, students of WBC are able to
transfer their credits to other Assemblies of God colleges and universities. Westminster
Catawba Christian School.; Rock Hill, SC; Tracey Denney
CHURCHES AND COUNSELORS WITH COVINGTON GRADUATES AS PASTORS OR ON STAFF:
(from only five pages from Google)Castle Rock Christian
Fellowship; Chowan Baptist Association,
NC Crossroad Counseling; Counseling degree listed in Psychology Today Magazine.
State of Georgia licensed counselor. Davis Islands Baptist Church First Baptist Church, Maryville, Missouri First Baptist Church,
Monks Corner, SC First Baptist Church. Sumter, SC First Baptist, Richland Hills, Ft Worth, Texas, Hemp Edward LInehanFirst
Southern Baptist Church, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Ken Musselwhite Grace
Baptist Church; Yuba City, CA Keys Baptist Church, Christian Counseling Services;
Andrew Bowman Macland Baptist Church, Powder Springs, Ga Meadowdale Baptist, Calhoun, Ga Mountain Grove, Granite Falls,
NC; Penfield Christian Home, Ken CarvalhoSeaford
Baptist Church; Seaford, VA Warren Wiersbe’s staff on “2ProphetU.com.”
Alan Stewart Western Ave Baptist Church; Statesville, NC, Ed Yarbrough