NOTE: THERE ARE TWO ARTICLES HERE.
HEMPHILL REBUTTED BY CBS COMMENTS AND I REBUTTED HIS REPLY IN LENGTH FOLLOWING THE BOOK REVIEW.
Making Change, Ken Hemphill, Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2006, paperback, 19 pages.
Kenneth Hemphill; SBC National Strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth; Ph. D. Cambridge University; former President Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Book Review by Russell Earl Kelly, Ph. D., February 7, 2009
This book represents the very best that the Southern Baptist Convention has to offer regarding stewardship, tithes and offerings. It is also one of the worst examples of how to manipulate Scripture to teach tithing I have ever read.
P39: [1 Tim 5:8] “Providing for one’s own family is an indisputable Christian duty. To forsake this would be a tacit denial of the faith … So anyone who thinks stewardship overrides this responsibility has failed to heed the heartbeat of God.” —– Almost 38 pages will pass before Hemphill begins to repudiate his statement here by teaching that Christians must give the first 10% of income to the church before any other bills are paid. See page 77.
P43-44: “The Israelites were prohibited by law from exploiting the poor …” “Solomon made a clear connection between serving the poor and honoring God. ‘The one who oppresses the poor insults their maker.'” —— In my opinion expecting the poor to give the first 10% of income even before medicine, food and shelter is equivalent to exploiting the poor.
P48-56: While discussing how the OT ministry and Temple were financed, Hemphill carefully replaces the word, “tithe,” with “specified portions” on page 42 but uses “tithe” for the first time on page 43. He fails to point out that the OT sanctuary and Temple were not financed from tithes.
P53: “The fact that the Levites were told to give a tenth of the tenth they received (Num 18:26) [Neh 10:37-38].” —– The OT Levites who received the first Levitical tithe were only servants to the priests and did not minister. The priests only received 1% of the total tithe. Hemphill makes no effort to reconcile this principle to the Church.
P53: “The Levites were not given a tribal inheritance in the Promised Land but were placed instead in forty-eight Levitical cities (Num 35:1-8). [Also Joshua 20-21; 1 Chronicles 23 to 26]. —– Hemphill ignores what they did in those cities. They raised (tithed) animals; they farmed to feed those animals; they learned and worked at trades to use in the Temple. And kings used them as politicians, judges, rulers and representatives.
P53: “Therefore the generous support of the people of God enabled those in ministry to dedicate themselves fully rather than being concerned about earning a living. That is the Old Testament pattern.” —– This is a myth. They rotated in 24 week cycles to work at the Temple a minimum of 2 weeks per year. The Bible does not teach that Levites and priests only performed spiritual work in the sanctuary. Over ten times it states that, in exchange for receiving tithes, they were not allowed to own or inherit property. Yet Christian pastors both expect tithes and also own and inherit property.
P54-55: “In 1 Thessalonians Paul did NOT speak about providing financial resources for those in ministry.” … [1 Cor 9:14] “On certain occasions Paul waived his right to receive support from the church and chose instead to work as a tentmaker. —– This is wrong. The reverse is true. As a rabbi Paul considered it a sin to be paid for teaching the Word of God. Paul boasted that his “wages” were working for “free” in 1 Cor 9:12-18. In fact, Paul worked to support both himself and those with him and only occasionally received limited support. This is still true at the very end of his ministry as seen in Acts 20:29-35. The word “tithe” never appears in Paul’s epistles (with a possible exception of Hebrews 7 where it is abolished in 7:12 and 7:18).
P55: Quoting the SBC Bible version, Hemphill argues that 1 Timothy 5:17 teaches that pastors are due a “double honorarium.” “The context leaves little doubt that Paul had in mind generous financial remuneration.” —– This is wrong. The context from 5:1-20 is that of being due “double honor” when being disciplined. Paul would not refuse a salary himself and then tell his favorite disciple that he deserved a double salary. In 1 Timothy 6:5-10 Paul told Timothy to be content with the bare necessities of life.
P64: [Ps 24:1] “God is the Creator and Owner of all that exists.” —- This text is used by every tithe teacher. However this fact is never used as a reason to collect or receive tithes from defiled pagan dust in the Bible.
P65: “When it comes to money, God is not simply concerned about the tithe – the 10 per cent we are required to return to him.” —– “Tithe” occurs once in this chapter. Hemphill is very slowly introducing his major thrust of tithing. Notice that, while it is “required,” the requirement that tithe-recipients not own property is not “required.” There are at least 25 tithing principles in the OT and none are followed by churches today.
P77: In a chapter discussing budget planning, the word “tithe” occurs twice. “Start with large categories such as “tithing, food, housing, clothing.” … “Larry Burkett suggests that you look at five major divisions – the tithe, taxes, family needs, paying off debts, and developing surplus to respond to others.” —– First, it takes twisting Scripture to make tithes equal firstfruits when they are never the same. Second, notice that he places tithes in front of “family needs.” This means church support in front of medicine, food and shelter which totally contradicts what he wrote on page 39. Third, Burkett put family needs third which is cruel theology for the sick and poor.
P83: “After your tithe repay your debt first.” … “Never rob God to pay off debts.” —– First, this contradicts the list on page 77l Second, again it is based on the false assumption that tithes are firstfruits which is easily proven to be false by texts such as Deuteronomy 26:1-4 and Nehemiah 10:35-37.
P83: “God challenges us to put him to the test and see if he will not open the windows and pour out a blessings (Mal 3:10). —– This very common comment is wrong. a) The 600+ OT laws which included tithing were never commanded to the Church. b) The only way a Hebrew could claim blessings from tithing is to obey all 600+ commands of the law per Galatians 3:10. c) The entire law was the same test -(test me by) obeying and be blessed; (test me by) disobeying and be cursed. e) There is no legitimate principle which allows Christians to remove tithing from the entire law and disregard most of the remainder.
P88: “Generous giving -out of our surplus- enables us to go beyond the foundational level of tithes and offerings.” —– This is deceptive. First, “generous giving” is a Spirit-blessed NT principle which springs from Christian love which is the “enabler.” Second, the tithe was never the “foundation,” “expectation,” “standard,” “beginning place,” “good place to start” or “training wheels” which tithe teachers argue because tithes only applied to food producers who lived inside Israel. This is the first of many repetitions of this straw man in the book. Third, tradesmen such as Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did those who lived outside of Israel.
P93: “God is not asking you to dedicate your money, time, talents, influence, creativity or anything else to him. He only desires you.” —– This is incredible when Hemphill also tells us that the tithe is the foundational law of giving and that Christians will be cursed who do not tithe. See page 112.
P97-98: [Gen 14:20-21] “In sheer gratitude Abram offered him (Melchizedek) a tenth of everything he had.” … “Then the king of Sodom offered Abram all the spoils of war …” —– The Bible nowhere says that Abram freely chose to give a tithe from spoils of war. Most commentaries suggest that pagan Canaanite tradition influenced the 90% in verse 21.
P98: “The gift of a tithe to Melchizedek was based on the recognition that God was owner and provider.” —– Although “El Elyon” was worshipped by both Canaanites and Hebrews, the Bible does not say that Abram tithed spoils of war in recognition of El Elyon. Many commentaries suggest it was expected by Canaanite priest-kings from spoils of war.
P98: [Gen 28:22] “This stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house and I will give to you a tenth of all that you give me.” —– This is dishonest distortion of God’s Word. Hemphill conveniently changed the context by omitting the two preceding texts – 20-21 “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God.” Jacob’s scheming vow is not an example for Christians to follow. He set the conditions and only promised to tithe from pagan sources after God met his conditions.
P98: “Moses further instructed them that when they took possession of the land of promise, they were to offer the firstborn males of all their livestock as a sacrifice.” —– Hemphill misses the point that none of the tithes or offerings was considered holy unless they came off God’s holy land. Those given by Abram and Jacob did not qualify as holy tithes under the Law.
P99: “Choice examples of the crop were to be brought to the house of the LORD (Ex 22:19) to be used for the support of the priests (Num 18). According to Deuteronomy 26:1-11 these offerings were to be brought in a basket for presentation in the sanctuary.” — At least this once Hemphill admits that firstfruits were not tithes yet insists on teaching that they are the same in the remainder of the book. The firstfruits were extremely small token offerings which would fit in a basket. Often one person could carry an entire village’s firstfruits on one pack animal. Only the course of priests (1 of 24) which was ministering its one week rotation would eat the firstfruits and firstborn inside the sanctuary. This is unrelated to tithing.
P100: “The tithe was equivalent to a tenth part of all the produce that God graciously provided for Israel (Lev 27:30, 32).” —– Distortion. The tithe was not “equivalent” to all the produce. It “was” all the produce! That is what the text says! However, after (almost) correctly defining the OT tithe as only food from inside Israel, Hemphill then proceeds to totally ignore what he has just admitted in the remainder of the book. Contrary to popular opinion, food was not used as barter to replace money. Although money is extremely common even in Genesis and essential for sanctuary worship (check it out), the tithe is never money in 16 verses which describe its contents over a 1500 year span from Leviticus 27 to Luke 12. Hemphill and other tithe teachers have no biblical support for defining the tithe as 10% of income. Even the increase of the tithe was (as Hemphill says) miraculously and “graciously provided” from God’s hand -not from man’s hand. That is why skilled craftsmen such as carpenters and tentmakers could not tithe from what they produced and sold.
P100: “Numbers 18:21-32 indicates that the tithe was received by the Levites and was to be used for their support and ministry since they had no inheritance in the land.” —– It would be better worded “in exchange for” their loss of inheritance in the land. First, the Levites who received the whole Levitical tithe were not the priests (18:21-24); they were servants to the priest who functioned as our own ushers, choir, musicians, builders, maintenance, treasurers, judges, rulers and politicians (Num 3; 1 Chron 23 to 26). This principle is ignored by the Church. Second the priests only received 1% of the total – or a tenth of the tithe (Num 18:25-29; Neh 10:38-39). Third, although they did not inherit land, they lived on land provided by the other tribes and worked it as farmers and herdsmen. They also worked at trades necessary for temple building an maintenance (Num 35; Josh 20-21). It is wrong to imply that they were all full-time temple workers when only 2% of the total were at the temple most of the time (per 24 courses of male priests age 30 and up).
P100: [Deu 12 and 14] “The place where God’s name dwelt would have been the tabernacle or the temple.” —– Partially true. The context of Deuteronomy 12 and 14 is the second festival, or feast tithe. The “place” referred to the streets of Jerusalem where the second tithe was consumed. There is no text which says that the second tithe was brought to, or stored in, the temple. In fact, Nehemiah 10:37-39 commands the people to bring their tithes to the Levitical cities -not to the temple.
P101: “An additional tithe is mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:28-29. … I find it fascinating that the Deuteronomic code required that the tithe of agriculture be used in a family feast celebrating God’s provision and presence.” —– Once again Hemphill admits that the tithe was “of agriculture.” If (as he later argues) it also included “all income” then why is income not included in the commands to tithe? Also, while finding it “fascinating,” there is not discussion of why the Church ignores this OT tithing principle of a third-year tithe only for the poor. And neither does the church teach that no tithes should be received from farmers every seventh year as implied in the OT principles of tithing (Lev 25).
P101: [Mal 3:8] “The result was that they [Malachi’s audience] were suffering under a curse [for not tithing]. In other words they had forfeited God’s presence, provision and protection. … [Concerning thieves robbing churches] “I responded that I was not at all surprised since many of the people who sat before me in the pews stole from God every Sunday when they kept back his tithes and offerings.” —– First, this is a dishonest use of Malachi 3:8 a) because God never commanded the church to tithe, b) because the church has a priesthood of every believer, c) because it is impossible for born-again children of God to be under the OT curse and d) because NT giving principles have replaced OT giving principles. Second, does Hemphill the Baptist believe that one can fall from grace by not tithing? That is the necessary conclusion of one who “forfeits God’s presence, provision and protection.”
P101: “It is hard to believe that someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ, who has experienced the grace of God in redemption and daily provision, would ever consider coming into God’s presence with empty hands.” —– In other words, ‘Don’t dare show up in church without your tithes and offerings!” Do you need to buy medicine? Forget it. This attitude is a major reason why many churches are dwindling today! The poor, widows, orphans and sick are not welcome in Hemphill’s churches today!
P101: “Why would we forfeit the pleasure of worshipping the King with tithes and offerings? Clearly this is the standard and legacy of OT worship.” —– No, it is not! The straw man is lifted up again. First, OT worship only required food producers living inside Israel to begin their level of giving at 10%. Second, the second and third tithe was for (not brought by) the poor, widows, orphans and strangers. Third, Hemphill may as well remove page 42-47 from his book where he discussed oppressing the poor because he is guilty of it. Fourth, there are no biblical texts which make tithing the “standard” for OT giving. Fifth, NT giving is primarily sacrificial which means more than 10% for many but less for others.
P102: [Mt 23:23] “I have always been surprised that people who claim to be followers of Christ attempt to use scripture taken out of context to avoid the obvious implication of the teaching of biblical principles.” —– This is the pot calling the kettle black! I would dearly love to be locked in a room with Dr. Hemphill and make him retract this statement. This entire review is filled with how he has taken texts out of context. And I would like for him to clearly set down in writing his set of biblical principles (hermeneutics). The SBC has thus far been unable to provide a good book on hermeneutics which has consistent principles for the use of the law and tithing.
P102: “Over the years I have encountered people who wanted to argue that tithing was a matter of legalism and thus inappropriate for a person now under grace. But this argument is flawed from the beginning since the first two instances of tithing occur before the giving of the law (Gen 14, 28).” —– First, with one statement Hemphill thinks he has defeated everybody who disagrees with him. His unstated principle is “If something is before the law, very old and very common, then it must be an eternal moral principle.” The same kind of logic could be used to support idolatry, child sacrifices, temple prostitution, Saturday Sabbath, unclean food laws, circumcision and multiple wives. Second, at least the first Levitical tithe was purely cold hard law; giving was not a matter of one’s disposition or grace. Third, Abram and Jacob’s tithes did not qualify as holy tithes off a holy land to a holy priesthood. They were pagan spoils of war which were only 1% in Numbers 31. Fourth, nothing Abraham and Jacob did in Genesis 14 and 28 is an example of tithing for Christians to follow today: a) only pagan spoils of war, b) not his own personal property, c) recorded only once, d) the 90% went to the king of Sodom, and e) Jacob’s were probably given to the poor.
P102: “Furthermore one would be hard pressed to find support for the idea that someone who has experienced the amazing grace of our Lord … would desire to do less than someone under the law. Such a person would be a disgrace to grace.” —– First, the argument is a straw man because it is based on the false and un-provable assumption that everybody in the OT was required to begin his/her level of giving at 10%. Second, grace-giving begins with a Spirit-filled response of love which produces sacrificial giving. Hemphill would be hard pressed to connect grace giving to law giving. The real disgrace is adding law back to grace which is contrary to Paul’s instruction in Galatians 1:8-9 and 3:1-5.
P102-103: “Others retreat to the argument of silence. They surmise that since tithing is mentioned infrequently by Jesus it can’t be that important. But how many times must something be taught in God’s Word before it becomes important to the committed followers of Christ? It is likely that tithing was seldom mentioned by Jesus because he anticipated that those basic matters were clearly understood by all.” —– First, it is Hemphill who is arguing from silence in this very sentence when he says “it is likely that.” The problem is Hemphill’s lack of a consistent hermeneutic. That which has been brought over from the OT into the new is clearly repeated after Calvary to the church in terms of grace and faith. That is why the Sabbath, food laws, circumcision and multiple wives are clearly discussed yet tithing is not. Second, the only time Jesus mentioned tithing was to criticize tithe-payers in the context of the law. It would have been impossible to Jesus to command his Gentile disciples to tithe.
P103: [Mt 23:23] “Let’s look at what the New Testament says about tithing.” —– This is where the flawed lack of consistent hermeneutics of Hemphill is most evident. Matthew 23:23 is before Calvary and is, therefore, in Old Testament context. In fact, Jesus clearly states that he is discussing “matters of the law” – that is the context – not matters of grace. Jesus also commanded obedience to all of the law during his lifetime. If tithing is for the church simply because Jesus taught it, then so should be the whole law. I doubt that the SBC favors killing disobedient children as taught in Exodus 21:15, 17.
P103: “The context of Matthew 23:23 is a denunciation of the scribes (experts in the law) and of the Pharisees. … The fourth woe in particular relates to their practice of tithing as taught in Old Testament law.” —– Yes. So true. Then do not change the context to refer to the Church.
P103: “Can you see one of these Pharisees down on his knees counting out his mint, dill and cumin?” —– This is one of my own arguments. Yet Jesus and Hemphill say “This you ought to have done.” I ask “Why don’t you teach this? Why don’t you obey Jesus and command your church members to count out their herbs and place them into the offering plate as tithes? This is inconsistent pick-and-choose from the law what you want to keep and reject the remainder.
P103: [Mt 23:23] “Notice, however, that Jesus was not condemning their act of tithing. … We can’t miss this obvious implication. … Thus for someone to use this passage to argue against the principle of tithing puts that person in the same category with the blind guides of Jesus’ day.” —– This is nasty and cruel rhetoric. Jesus came to perfectly fulfill the righteous requirements of the law in order to redeem those under the law. It is absurd to think that he would have taught against obedience to any part of the law – including tithing. The only “obvious implication” is that the law was still in full effect before Calvary.
P104: [Mt 5:17] “While debate exists among Bible scholars as to the actual meaning of this statement [I did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill], it seems best to translate it in terms of ‘bringing to completion’ … the final revelation of God’s will (as found in the entire Old Testament).” —– First, does Hemphill’s opinion now end the “debate existing among Bible scholars”? From Matthew 5:20-48 Jesus gave six illustrations: two from the commandments, two from the statutes and two from the judgments. Therefore he was at least discussing the whole law of Moses. Second, what is Hemphill’s point here? Is he arguing that Christians are under the whole law in order to justify retaining tithing? What consistent hermeneutic is he using here to retain tithing and reject the hundreds of law-commands which are not accepted by churches?
P104: “Just a few verses later in his Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:18-20), Jesus set a new standard for kingdom citizens that far exceeded the righteousness of scribes and Pharisees. The kingdom citizen, he said, should go far beyond lip service and legalistic observance of the law. Rather, he should internalize the law so that his life and teaching are molded by God’s Word.” —– First, once again Hemphill is setting up the false assumption straw man that the OT had a standard which commanded everyone in the OT to begin their level of giving at 10% (although it only narrowly applied to food producers who lived inside Israel). I will repeat this every time he repeats his false assumption. Second, it is wrong to teach that the Christian is to look at the law and go far beyond it. In reality the Christian is “dead to law” (Rom 7:4) and has been quickened and risen as a new creation to serve “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ” (Rom 8:2). Christ, not the law, is the standard to which the Christian looks for guidance (John 16:8-9; 2 Cor 3:18). Third, how does Hemphill “internalize” the many commands to kill those who break the first commandments? I suspect that his hermeneutics of law are faulty. The obvious conclusion from Matthew 5:19 (which Hemphill ignores) is that the church is either under all of the law or none of it.
P105: “In each case [Mt 5:20-48] Jesus’ ethical teaching was more demanding than the law.” —– Is that what Jesus was teaching? Or was Jesus re-interpreting the law? If being angry with your brother without a cause is equivalent to murder, then should the angry person be put to death as the law required (5:21-22)? If the law is now even more “demanding” than before, how can we escape this conclusion?
P106: “To interact with verses like these from Jesus’ teaching and still conclude that tithes and offerings are artificial requirements, that minimum giving should be acceptable under the circumstances – as if living under grace gives us permission not to take our kingdom responsibilities too seriously- is to give our human nature far too much credit. Grace should free us not to do less but to do more, not to earn God’s favor but to let it continue transforming us.” —– First, he sets up the false assumption straw man again. The OT did not require everybody to begin giving at 10%. Second, OT tithing was never an “artificial” requirement for non-food producers. Third, “living under grace” does not mean “for every church doctrine except stewardship.” Nor does it mean that grace allows law to be added back which is contrary to Galatians 1:8-9 and 3:1-5. Third, unlike the OT believer in which the Holy Spirit did not permanently dwell, Christians have a “new nature” which will out-give the old nature if properly motivated by sermons on soul-winning. Churches do not fail because they do not preaching law-stewardship. Churches fail which do not preach soul-winning.
P106: “Grace liberates us to go beyond the tithe to give proportionately, generously and joyously.” —– Straw man again. Grace motivates Christians who are dead to law-principles to give sacrificially and to the best of their ability without any view to a set percentage.
P108: [Malachi 1:9] “People were bringing blind, lame and sick animals for their sacrifices.” —– This is dishonest to the context. On page 111 Hemphill has it correct: “Notice that the sons of Levi, the very people against whom the indictments in 1:6 to 2:9 had been levied, had been singled out to be purified and refined like god and silver (3:3).” Malachi 1:6, the context of 1:8 above, is addressed to the priests -not to the people. The priests had vowed to offer the best from the tithed animals they had received and had stolen from God by exchanging them for inferior animals. And God cursed the priests in 1:13-14.
P108-110: Hemphill continues to ignore the fact that God was only addressing the priests from 1:6 and 2:1 and induces his readers to think that the people of Israel are being addressed. In fact, with the exception of the third-person address of 2:10-12, the “you” in Malachi never changes from the priests to the people of Israel. Even “this whole nation” in 3:9 makes more sense as “this whole nation of you priests.” God addresses the priests from 1:6 to 1:14; from 2:1 to 2:9 and from 2:13 to the end of Malachi. Follow the pronoun “you.” The priests are seen in 2:13 covering the altar; they are seen in 2:17 asking God a question and they are seen in his answer which follows in chapter 3.
P111: “God’s desire is to use this experience to purify, cleanse and restore to productive living.” —– This is dishonest because the context is the priests. “Notice that the sons of Levi, the very people against whom the indictments in 1:6 to 2:9 had been levied, had been singled out to be purified and refined like god and silver (3:3).”
P:111: “Once again, however, Israel responded to God’s grace with a whine of innocence -‘How can we return?'” —– It is the priests of Israel asking the questions since 1:6 and not the people. Priests are the “sons of Jacob” in 1:6 and the ordinances and covenant previously discussed in 2:9 were those with the priests.
P111: “We have already looked at the tithe in some detail. It was generally considered to be a tenth of what one earned and was intended to be brought to the storehouse.” —– First, as pointed out from page 100, Hemphill corrected defined tithe as food from inside Israel only once and thereafter defines it as a tenth of income without any explanation of the drastic change of definition. Second, Nehemiah 10:37 commands the people to bring the whole Levitical tithe to the Levitical cities and not toe the storehouse. It makes no sense to tell the people to bring all the tithe to the Temple when 98% of those who needed it were in the Levitical cities. Leviticus 10:38 says “And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.” It was the responsibility of the Levites to bring the tithe into the Temple -not the people. Third, the two small rooms in the Temple could not possibly contain the entire tithe from the nation (Neh 13:5-10). There is a serious mis-interpretation of Malachi 3:10.
P111-112: “Stephen Oxford wrote ‘From the time of Hezekiah, there was in the sanctuary a storehouse built for depositing the tithes and offerings of the people. This was also true of the second temple in the days of Nehemiah.'” —– First, why does Hemphill quote Oxford? Why does he not simply declare the same thing? Is he doubtful of Oxford’s conclusion? Second, Oxford is wrong if he thinks that the Temple storehouse could hold all the tithes from the (then much smaller) country. A careful reading of 2nd Chronicles 31:1-19 and Nehemiah 13:1-10 reveals only two small rooms. Third, Hezekiah erred when he commanded the people to bring the tithes to the Temple. There was no storage facility for al of it and it spoiled in the streets until it was re-shipped back to the Levitical cities (2 Chron 31:1-19). Fourth, if David and Solomon wanted the people (of the much larger nation) to bring their tithes to the Temple, then why did not the first Temple have storage space for them? Surely it is evident from Nehemiah 10:37-38 that the vast majority of the tithes were never stored at the Tempe storehouse. Therefore the NT comparison of the church as the equivalent to the OT temple storehouse is wrong.
P112: “When we rob God we are actually cheating ourselves because it places us under a curse (3:9) that closes the floodgates of God’s blessing. This is language we don’t often use. We love to talk about ‘blessing.’ The idea of ‘cursing’ seems foreign to our ears.” —– First, this comes from Hemphill who has been lecturing us about how tithing is not about legalism. Yet it reeks of cold hard OT law with its accompanying blessings and curses. Second, the word “curse” has been used against the priests four times in 1:14 and 2:2. It would be consistent to interpret the priests as still being the recipients of God’s OT curse. Third, Hemphill’s faulty hermeneutics of law are showing again. He teaches that the OT law applies to Christians except that which he has decided no longer applies. Tithing has survived his cut. Fourth, I would like to hear how Hemphill explains Galatians 3:13 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” It is impossible for God to curse a born-again Christian. No adopted child of God can sit with him in heavenly places while being cursed. Therefore Hemphill must think that tithing is essential for salvation. Fifth, I would like to hear him explain Galatians 3:10 “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” The only way OT Hebrews could claim the blessings from tithing was to observe all 600+ commands of the law. Sixth, I would like to hear Hemphill explain Galatians 1:8-9 “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” It seems like adding law back to the gospel falls under Paul’s curse.
P112: [Mal 3:10] “Thus God issued a challenge -‘Bring the full 10 per cent into the storehouse … Test me in this way.” —– This was explained already. First, the whole tithe would not fit into the Temple storehouse. Second, only the Levites and priests were normally responsible for bringing tithes into the Temple. Third, the NT Temple is within the believer. Fourth, The early church did not have its own buildings for over 200 years after Calvary and it does not correspond to the storehouse. Fifth, the Protestant reference to the church building as the “house of God” is an OT, pagan or Roman Catholic concept where God dwells. Sixth, again, the only way an OT Hebrew could claim the blessings from tithing was to observe all 600+ commands of the law.
P112: “The opening of the floodgates of heaven was an indication of an abundance of rain (Deut 28:12).” —– This comparison to Malachi 3:10 proves that Hemphill knows the context is that of the entire law. There is no consistent hermeneutic which allows him to separate the blessings and curses of tithing from the blessings and curses of the whole law. The commandments, statutes and judgments of the Law either stand together or fall together.
P121-126: Even though discussing freewill offerings from 1st Corinthians 16 Hemphill still refers to tithing five times.
P123: [1 Cor 16] “The issue in our present passage is the collection for the saints.” —– For the SBC everything above the expected tithe is grace giving of freewill offerings. Nothing said or written about offerings is intended to remove the obligation to tithe. The context of 1 Corinthians 16 is not a discussion of how to build churches or how to pay gospel workers. However the grace-only principles are the same when the law is removed.
P124: “Our giving should be a matter of theological conviction that leads to practical and consistent expression. Consistency requires thought, planning and preparation that in turn allows us to have a greater sense of worship as we give.” —– “Theological conviction” is the result of in-depth honest study of God’s Word. When it involves tithing, this is not being done in SBC churches and seminaries. It is a taboo subject. And the lack of a “consistent” hermeneutic of law is at the root of the problem.
P124: “What can you do to develop consistency? First, I would suggest that you follow Paul’s direction about laying aside your tithe and offering first.” —– This is a blatant lie. First, the chapter is not about tithing. Second, Paul and the rest of the Bible never equates tithes with firstfruits. Third, Paul never “directed” anybody to “lay aside tithes and offerings first.” In fact he taught believers to pay for their medicine, food and shelter first. Even the fundamental tithing text of Leviticus 27:30-34 describes the tithe as the “tenth” and not even the “best.” 1 Tim 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
P125: “God has no favorites in his purpose of blessing, and since he wants to bless everyone, he expects everyone to give. No one should ever be excluded from worshipping God through tithes and offerings and no one should do so without theological reflection that leads to thoughtfulness and consistency.” —– First, this is a rather goofy statement. Is there a church anywhere that forbids people from giving? Second, I have met many discouraged Christians who stay home because they have too many medical bills and are too poor to contribute as much as their pastor expects. Third, if Hemphill wants members to give only after “theological reflection” then he should encourage open discussion of tithing like any other doctrinal subject. Fourth, churches which add to God’s Word by requiring officers to tithe are committing the sin of respecting persons, or showing favoritism. Spiritual gifts are also given to the poor and to disqualify them from use of those spiritual gifts because of their financial situation is a sin.
P125: “Paul would have practiced tithing according to Old Testament prescriptions.” —– Nonsense. First, after 14 years of re-education Paul taught that the believer was dead to law (Rom 7:4). Second, as a rabbi Paul considered it heresy to accept a wage for teaching the Word of God. (Read Schaff and most other church historians.) Third, as one who knew the OT definition of “tithe” Paul knew that craftsmen had nothing tithe-able and that even food products from pagan lands did not qualify as tithes. Paul wrote in Galatians that adding law back into grace is witchcraft. Gal 3:1 “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? … 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?“
P127-133: In his discussion of freewill grace giving principles from 2nd Corinthians 8, Hemphill uses the word “tithe” three times.
P132: “Jesus, of course -as we saw earlier- had approached tithing from the approach of an assumed truth, as something that God’s people should have mastered without neglecting the weightier things [of the law] as love, mercy and justice. In other words, Jesus was saying ‘I shouldn’t have to go back and cover elementary school matters with you.'” —– This is wrong. First, Jesus was discussing “matters of the law” to Jews still under the law in Matthew 23:23. Second, even though the scribes and Pharisees were the recognized interpreters of the law and had expanded it beyond its original scope, Jesus still supported their excess (Mt 23:2-3). Third, of course it was an “assumed truth” -to Jews. However it was NOT an assumed truth for Gentiles who were not allowed or commanded to tithe by Jesus. In fact the early church in Acts 15:10 refused to place its Gentile converts under the yoke of the law.
P132: “Paul, too, was clear in saying that the tithe was only the beginning of Christian stewardship.” —– This is a blatant lie. Paul said no such thing! First, Hemphill sets up his straw man again. Second, although the SBC did not begin teaching tithing until 1895, nothing less than the tithe is acceptable in SBC theology today. Anything less is robbing God. Imagine how that makes poor sick church members feel who cannot even afford their medicine.
P132: “What may have been a moral duty for Old Testament man had now become a joyous privilege produced in the believer by the Holy Spirit.” —– First, “may have been” suggests that Hemphill is unsure about declaring that tithing was an OT moral principle. Second, he sets up the straw man again by implying that everyone in the OT was expected to begin their level of giving at 10% when it only applied to food producers who lived inside Israel. Third, the Holy Spirit nowhere endorses tithing by the Church after Calvary. In fact, any doctrine which is not repeated to the Church in terms of grace and faith after Calvary is said to have “zero” glory in comparison to NT revelation per 2 Corinthians 3:10. The heart-nature-conscience of believers teaches giving without any reference to a set percentage either up or down.
P132: “Paul concluded with an appeal both to proportionate and generous giving (8:12).” —– This is not what the text teaches. The text teaches “equality” giving, not “proportionate” giving. Those who have much more should give much more while those who have much less can only give less. The text is NOT discussing giving by the same percentage. That which comes “first” is not the tithe; rather it is the “willing mind.”
2 Cor 8:12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
2 Cor 8:13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
2 Cor 8:14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
P163: “A decisive kingdom moment occurred on May 8, 1845. —– irst, the establishment of the SBC had nothing to do with tithing because it did not attempt to adopt tithing until 1895. Second, the tithing texts were not added to the SBC Faith and Message until 1963. Third, the word “tithe” still does not appear in the SBC Faith and Message. It is, however, mandatory for those who receive a paycheck from the SBC to teach tithing per their Position Paper on tithing. Fourth, one reason for the establishment of the SBC in 1845 was their pro-slavery position. At least they changed their position on that doctrine. Does tithing have the same chance of being changed?
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
NOTE: This article is not intended to be a rebuttal of any other doctrine taught by Kenneth Hemphill and I wish him God’s blessings to the extent he preaches the gospel according to God’s Word in other areas of doctrine.
Dr Kenneth Hemphill; khemphill@SBC.net
On March 7, 2008 you wrote an article for the Baptist Press which was intended to be a rebuttal of our arguments from the CBS Sunday Morning news segment “To Tithe or Not to Tithe.”
I have read you biography and see that you are eminently qualified to write such an article. You have enough degrees to fill most walls and have the experience and authorship to match almost any scholar. Therefore you should not be reluctant to enter into a prolonged dialog with myself and my Tithing Study group at Yahoo. We have been waiting many years for somebody of your stature to engage us in such a dialog and cannot understand why nobody has come forward yet to prove us wrong on what you imply is such an easily defensible doctrine as tithing.
There are many top theologians who agree with my viewpoint. Beyond the first three hundred years of church history and the first 200-300 years of our own Baptist history the theologians date back to Martin Luther and are seen today in such schools as Dallas Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, Talbot Bible College and Master’s Seminary. They include such scholars as John MacArthur, Lewis Sperry Chafer, John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, Merrill Unger, Craig Blomberg and Walter Elwell. In your own denominational leadership they include Daniel Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest (from which you personally have a Magna Cum Laude degree). It also includes top theologians on its staff including Andreas Kostenberger, David Black and several others. In other words there are enough top theologians who disagree with you that dialog should be warranted.
You wrote: “It is worth the time to look at these general objections.” I certainly hope so and I pray that you will give them more than a cursory look. At the very least read my book, Should the Church Teach Tithing? A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine. I will send a copy for free if you so indicate.
MATTHEW 23:23/LUKE 11:42
Like most Southern Baptist preachers you think that Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 easily refute grace-giving arguments and support pro-tithing arguments. I said that “Everything you teach about tithing is wrong” and I am willing to defend that statement using sound seminary-level hermeneutics taught in your own seminaries. In fact I argue that there are at least 25 OT tithing principles and none of them are followed by any church today.
I also said that the verses used to teach tithing are “out of context.” You made an effort to show that the context of Matthew 23:23 favored tithing. You said “The context is the denunciation of the scribes (experts in the law) and the Pharisees (legalists).” “The fourth woe involves tithing as taught in the Old Testament.” “As might be expected the first century legalists had been meticulous in observing the law.” “Jesus charged that they had neglected the weightier matters.” Here, like most tithe-teachers who quote this verse, you omitted the words “of the law.” You also omitted the context of the chapter itself where in verses 2 and 3 Jesus tells his Jewish disciples to obey the scribes and Pharisees because “they sit in Moses’ seat.”
You wrote “The passage is not that difficult to understand in its present context.” I fully agree. But, sir, it is you who have taken Jesus’ words out of context. The context is very clearly a discussion of “matters of the law.” The tithe is compared to a “gnat” in verse 24 whereas “justice, mercy and faith” are compared to the “camel.” And everything in between the “gnat-tithing” and “camel-justice” were to be obeyed also because the law was still in full effect. Why don’t you teach that the whole law is still in effect? Why do you only choose tithing?
The text itself (the primary focus of seminary hermeneutics) is addressed to “you,” that is, “scribes and Pharisees.” And the text itself says that it is a discussion of “matters of the law.” Yes, you are correct: “This passage is not that difficult to explain in its present context.” Then you take it out of its “present context” by saying “The mastery of elementary matters [omitting “of the law”] such as tithing is no excuse [for those under the law] to ignore weightier issues [of the law]. Think about this: If Jesus were indeed speaking to the Church and telling Gentile Christians to pay tithes in Matthew 23:23, then tell us where they would have taken those tithes before Calvary. Both they and their tithes would have been rejected.
You concluded your comments about Matthew 23:23 by saying “Nonetheless it is obvious that Jesus believed and taught that tithing was a fundamental aspect of faith.” Sir, that is not what the context says! The context is a discussion of “law” and the hypocrisy of the abusers of the law. Of course Jesus would teach tithing; Galatians 4:4 reminds us that he was “born under the law to redeem those under the law.” The context is “under the law”. The context is not “this is for the church after Calvary.” Before Calvary Jesus obeyed and taught obedience to all of the law. You have no legitimate biblical hermeneutic which permits you to reject most of that law as fulfilled or irrelevant and retain tithing.
MANIPULATIVE USE OF TITHING
The next line of rebuttal from you said “We must confess that some pastors on occasions have used biblical texts related to tithing in a manipulative manner to raise the budget or to build a building.” Is it “some” or is it “most pastors”? (1) The OT tithe was never used to pay for buildings; the OT sanctuary and Temple were paid for using freewill-offerings. (2) Though “money” and “shekel” are essential worship items in the OT they are never included in any of the 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe covering 1500 years in God’s Word. In other words the definition of “tithe” has been “manipulated” by all of you. (3) The OT recipients of the tithe were the Levites who were the tentmakers, carpenters, artisans, ushers, deacons, choir, musicians, treasurers, bakers and politicians (Num 3; 1 Chron 23 to 26). You “manipulate” God’s Word and totally ignore those facts and use the tithes in completely different ways than that found in God’s Word. (4) Those Levites and priests who received the OT tithe were not allowed to own or inherit property. You “manipulate” God’s Word and allow pastors to amass much property and say nothing. The “basic biblical teaching” has indeed been “altered” because absolutely nothing taught about OT tithing is found in churches today.
You wrote: “Tithing should not be connected to subscribing a budget nor should it be presented as a means of receiving financial favor from God.” Incredible! You have just contradicted almost every pro-tithe teacher I have ever read, including those in your own denomination. If you really believe this then I suggest you recall a lot of tracts about tithing which are found in SBC churches. And you need to remind almost every SBC pastor not to mention tithing when they determine their budget.
THE HISTORY OF TITHING
Dr. James Hudnut-Beumler, Dean of the Vanderbilt Divinity School and a history professor pointed out that no Protestant church in the U. S. A. taught tithing prior to the 1870s. With information provided by your own SBC web site and SBC books I point out on my web site that it took from 1649 until 1963 for your own denomination to even insert the texts for tithing into your own Faith and Message. The statement of 1925 had none. And your own Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists proves that early Baptists strongly opposed tithing and strongly advocated self-supporting pastors like the founders of Rhode Island. You agree “that the church should never have been funded by the government” only because you think that it should have always been funded by tithing but Baptist history disagrees with you.
You wrote: “A better historical marker would be the early church, not relatively recent history.” Robert Baker, the current and long-time top church historian for Southern Baptists wrote in his Baptist seminary textbook, A Summary of Christian History, Nashville: Broadman, “The leaders [before A.D. 100] usually worked with their hands for their material needs. There was no artificial distinction between clergy and laity.” … “The earliest bishops or presbyters engaged in secular labor to make their living and performed the duties of their church office when not at work.”
Another Southern Baptist church historian, H. E. Dana wrote in yet another Baptist seminary textbook, The New Testament World, Nashville: Broadman, “Among the Jews professional life was limited. The one widely extensive profession was that of rabbi, if profession it might be called, for most rabbis followed some trade or secular pursuit for a livelihood, while devoting all the time possible to the study and teaching of the law. . . . Every Jewish boy was expected to learn some trade. Rabbinic tradition declared that ‘whoever does not teach his son a trade is as if he brought him up to be a robber.’ The prevalent use of tents [by travelers] made the tent-making trade a lucrative occupation. … This was the prevailing manner in which the first Christian missionaries were provided for, though likely the entertainment was tendered them without cost (cf. 2 John 10-11; 3 John 5-8).”
Dr. Hemphill, please be honest here. I have a shelf full of books written by church historians of many different denominations and every single one of them teaches that the early church leaders were self-supporting. I can name many more and quote them but it would be fruitless if you are not inclined to honestly study the matter.
For the first 200 years of early church history its leaders boasted of being poor and self-supporting. They did not teach tithing because it was a Jewish matter. Read Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Tertullian. They usually quoted Jesus’ advice to the rich young ruler to “go, sell all that you have, come follow me and you shall have treasure in heaven.” There were no church buildings for you to even call “storehouses” (another false tithe-teaching) until around AD250 and Christians in Rome met in the catacombs and graveyards. Even from AD250 to AD305 the churches which had been built were burned down every time a catastrophe or military defeat occurred.
Yes, Cyprian, Chrysostom and Augustine advocated forms of tithing but their advice did not become church law. Two regional councils tried to make it church law in the 6th century and failed. Tithing did not become a legitimate church law until the end of the 8th century. You can find all of this in your own denominations’ research and in any large encyclopedia. Therefore it is wrong to teach that “a better historical marker would be the early church” to prove tithing when you have not researched it properly.
ABRAHAM AND GENESIS 14:18-20
Next you discuss Abraham’s tithe. You used Genesis 14:18-20 to prove that tithing preceded the law. You pretend to give the whole context in order to avoid the charge of proof-texting. You say “This is a biblical truth that goes back to the beginning chapters of Genesis.”
Yes, but what does the story actually tell us? The event does not end with tithing in verse 20. Verse 21 and the remainder of the chapter need exegesis. It was a SBC commentator from Baylor (Wycliffe Bible Commentary) who first alerted me to study verse 21 instead of stopping at verse 20. (1) The Bible does not say that “Abram’s spontaneous gift of the tithe was based on his renewed understanding that God Most High is possessor of heaven and earth.” You said that; not God’s Word! Do some deep research here. It is entirely possibly that Abram was instead “compelled” to tithe to the local priest king because of a long-standing pagan Arab tradition. He was passing through the king’s territory with spoils of war and had no choice in the matter. (2) The fact that tithes were common in pagan history even before Abraham’s time does not prove that it was an eternal moral principle any more than it proves that equally common child sacrifices, idol worship and temple prostitution were eternal moral principles for the same reason. What is your working hermeneutic here? You say something is true and nobody dares to question it. (3) Abraham’s tithe has no relationship to the tithes of the law which came from God’s holy land by holy people. (4) Abraham gave the 90% to the king of Sodom. Is that an example of faith for Christians to follow? What gives you the right to say the 10% is an example for Christians but the 90% is not? Either both are examples or else neither are examples.
You wrote: “The spontaneous act of tithing was later codified into the law.” I say that you are very wrong here. Again, you cannot prove that Abraham’s act of tithing was “spontaneous” and his tithe has absolutely noting in common with the holy tithe which was later codified into the law. Please read Numbers 31. Yes, “spoils of war” tithes did become a “statute” of the law, but they were not holy and they were 1% and not 10%.
WHO WAS EL ELYON IN THE CANAANITE WORLD?
You also play word-games by translating El Elyon into “God Most High” and assume that it could only refer to Yahweh, the covenant God of Abraham. (1) God never used that term to identify Himself during Abraham’s lifetime, (2) In Abraham’s day it was the common name for the Most High God of the Canaanite pantheon (and you cannot possibly deny that). (3) Although everybody took pride in knowing the names of the gods they worshipped, there is no indication that Melchizedek himself even knew Yahweh by his covenant name. Abraham recognized that El Elyon was actually Yahweh but he only revealed that to the king of Sodom. Israel did not begin calling Yahweh “El Elyon” until 1000 years later after David conquered Jebusi and adopted their god’s-name and their hill, Zion. See the Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Jerusalem.
HERMENEUTICS (PRINCIPLES) OF LAW AND GRACE
Grace and the Law is your next target. You wrote: “Grace does not negate the law but rather fills it full of meaning.” What exactly does that statement mean? I can ask 100 Baptist preachers and get 100 different answers. It is pure gibberish. Please tell me what your consistent hermeneutic, your consistent principle of interpretation is when you bring something from the Law of Moss over into the New Covenant? Most Southern Baptists, Methodists and Charismatics appear to have no consistent hermeneutic at all!
I call show you a sermon from 1525 where Martin Luther said “Nothing” from the Law of Moses applies to Christians except that part of it which is eternal and moral. And Martin Luther was not a dispensationalist! Covenant Theology has one consistent hermeneutic and dispensationalists have another consistent hermeneutic. Baptists have none. Your methodology is to “pick and choose” whatever each seminarian or pastor thinks applied to the New Covenant. The reason that you do not understand tithing is really because you do not understanding the Law itself. Like Martin Luther
I believe that the Law of Moses was only given to the nation of Israel and was a unique sign of separation between them and the Gentile nations. There are many texts to support this view. In other words, it was not given to the Gentiles (Christians). I believe that only that eternal moral part of the Law of Moses which reflected the eternal moral character of God applies to the Church after Calvary and it was repeated to the Church after Calvary. That is my consistent hermeneutic. Now please tell me your consistent hermeneutic if you have one.
Matthew 5:17-19 does not confuse me because I read it in the context of the whole chapter. Jesus is clearly speaking of the entire Law of Moses and gives examples from all three sections of it. It is an indivisible and inseparable whole. You must either observe all of it or none of it. That is the meaning of “the least of these my commandments.” Jesus is also clearly speaking of the “righteousness” of the Law and not necessarily the prophecies of the Law. I am convinced from the many “fulfilled” texts in Matthew that Jesus did fulfill the “righteousness” of the Law throughout his holy sinless life, death and resurrection.
The Jew who believes in Christ is literally “dead to the law” (Rom 7:4) and the law, including tithing, cannot tell him what to do. The standards of holiness which were reflected in the law are now totally and completely seen in Christ (Rom 3:25-26; Heb 1:1-3). Christians are judged, not by obedience to the law, but according to what we do with Christ and how we respond to the Gospel (John 3:16-19). Your re-introduction of tithing from the Law of Moses is totally inconsistent with your rejection of most of that law as not relevant to the church.
MINIMUM STANDARD, EXPECTATION
Now comes your final and strongest argument (so you think). I hear it at every turn and every Southern Baptist puppets automatically — “It’s a good place to start.” You say “It would be a disgrace to grace to indicate that the person who has received grace would do less than one under the law.” That is true but you assign a false beginning standard of giving which makes your conclusion false.
I have a copy of your Position Paper on tithing. It states that, if you receive a paycheck from the Southern Baptist Convention, then you MUST teach tithing in everything you write or preach. That, my friend, is extremely dishonest. That, my friend, forces you to teach something which is not a part of the Faith and Message and which has not been agreed upon by the convention delegates as sound doctrine.
You assume (1) that tithes included income from all sources. Again I have 16 texts which prove that assumption to be false. The word “money” occurs 32 times in Genesis alone and 44 times before the word “tithe” occurs. You cannot prove that food was the same as money. (2) You assume that everybody in the OT was required to tithe. That assumption is also wrong. Only farmers and herdsmen inside Israel were required to tithe. It did not apply to others. It did not apply to those who lived outside of Israel. And it did not apply to the poor. (3) You assume that the tithe and the firstfruits are the same thing. In so doing you ignore 1st Timothy 5:8 and demand tithes be paid before medicine and food and shelter. Don’t try to deny it either. This is sin and abuse of the poor.
Therefore, since all of your definitions and assumptions about tithing are wrong, then your statement that the tithe was a universal minimum beginning place for the vast majority in the Old Covenant is wrong. Therefore it cannot legitimately be used to argue that NT believers must begin their giving levels at 10%. You have seriously manipulated the Word of God.
SECOND CORINTHIANS 8:11-15; THE EQUALITY PRINCIPLE
You refer to 2nd Corinthians 8:16-24. Have you ever read the verses in front of these – verses 11-15? Those who have more should give more than 10% while those who have less are giving sacrificially when they give less than 10%. There is no percentage in the New Covenant. It is the New Covenant principle of “equality giving.”
Since tithing is not commanded to the church under the New Covenant terms then it is part of the “no glory” of the Law mentioned in 2nd Corinthians 3:10. When you teach tithing without the endorsement of the Holy Spirit you are teaching the Law of Moses with a veil of ignorance over your face. You are not being changed “from glory to glory” by the better New Covenant principles of giving (2 Cor 3:11-18).
ACTS 21:20-21 AND ACTS 20:29-35
I will close with this: Acts 21:20-21 describes the church in Jerusalem over 30 years after Calvary and it is still “zealous of the law.” Hebrews shows us that it is still worshipping in the Temple and still honoring the earthly high priests. I must conclude that they were still tithing also – to the Temple system and not to the church leaders. Don’t you agree? As a rabbi Paul thought it was wrong to accept money for teaching the Word and he never changed from that position. This is clear in Acts 20:29-35. It is highly doubtful that he taught Timothy or anybody else otherwise.
You are wrong about tithing. We desire serious dialog. If you think I am wrong then you can use your education and experience to influence about 100 of us at our Tithing-Study group at Yahoo. Please join us and please encourage the SBC to have open discussion on this subject.
Do this if you dare. Find a young seminary student who is looking for a subject for his/her M. Div., Th. D, or PH. D. and ask him/her to study tithing. Just once I would like to see a pro-tithing PH.D. thesis. Somehow I doubt that you would suggest it because the student would agree with me. Truth can only benefit Christ’s body.
In Christ’s love
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD, 6610 Skyview Dr SE, Acworth, Ga 30101
Kenneth S. Hemphill is the SBC’s national strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth.