R T KENDALL, TITHING
This review is posted on Amazon.com]
by Russell Earl Kelly, Ph.D.
It is quite evident that Kendall has never made any kind of extensive research on tithing before writing this book. His unbalanced presentation only quotes others who agree with him.
1. No effort is made in the book to define the term, “tithe.” The author’s definition is purely what he thought it meant from childhood.
2. The opening pages are basically a “shame on you” to those who disagree. They are labeled as “escaping from glorifying God” (p24). Several times the author appears to blame all of the shortcomings of the church on its lack of tithing. He seems unconcerned that the theological systems may be widely different.
3. The curse and material blessings of Malachi are prominent. Missing is the O.T. context of the curse (Deu 27:19, 26; Neh 10:29; Mal 3:1-7; 4:4). Missing also is the fact from Numbers 18 that tithing itself entered as a death curse when the priesthood was taken from the family head. As usual in this type of book, Malachi 3 is used as a hammer and quoted repeatedly.
4. Tithing was not specifically taught in the New Testament, he says, because it was an “assumption” (p29). Yet a valid principle of interpretation states that all vital doctrines carried over from the O.T. are repeated in the N.T. after Calvary.
5. Jesus’ mention of tithing in Mt. 23:23 is clearly in the context of a discussion of the law, those under it, and those who misuse it (Mt 23:2-4).
6. Kendall asks, “Where would foreign missions be without this verse?,” Mt 23:23. Strangely, his “motivation” for giving on pages 104-106 does NOT include a “compassion for lost souls” or “love response to God.” O.T. Jews tithed according to the Law and had no missions at all! Tithing is not the answer. The law has no power or glory when compared to the power of the Spirit (2 Cor 3:10-18).
7. Page 34 has the statement “There is nothing more disgraceful than a church that struggles financially simply because its people will not tithe. There is nothing more melancholy than an underpaid minister.” However, many very successful churches thrive without teaching tithing (such as those associated with Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary). For almost 300 years the early church thrived through persecution while its pastors (like Jewish rabbis) were self-supporting and were mostly strict ascetics who boasted of their extreme poverty.
8. While Kendall uses Genesis 14 (p43-56) as the origin of tithing by Abraham, the book, Should the Church Teach Tithing?, goes into great detail on this subject. In their discussions of the 90% of Genesis 14:21, almost every commentary concludes the existence of a pre-existing Arab plunder law which compelled Abraham to tithe. As Kendall correctly emphasizes on page 49, he ONLY gave a spoils of war tithe. Also, he gave no freewill offering, built no altar, and ignored Melchizedek on his journey to adjoining Moriah in chapter 22. Also, El Elyon, the highest god of Tyre and Sidon, possessor/creator of heaven and earth, was commonly known by the Canaanites to be either Baal or El. Abraham, not Melchizedek, knew the true God as Yahweh, the LORD.
9. On pages 57-69 Kendall makes little or no difference between the Old Covenant Law and the N.T. except that the N.T. teaches a higher standard — meaning that ALL should give more than a tithe. The assumption that everybody under the O.T. was required tithe is wrong! — it only applied to clean food grown or raised in Israel. The poor, merchants, and craftsmen such as carpenters never tithed. Very confusing is Kendall’s remark, “Keeping the law of love would also mean keeping the very commandments of Moses, possible without even realizing it” (p68).
10. Kendall uses Hebrews 7 very selectively. The chapter actually concludes in verses 12-18 that ALL commandments supporting the Levitical priesthood, which must include the foundational tithe, MUST be abolished to make room for Christ’s higher priesthood.
I would recommend to Kendall and others wanting to honestly discover the truth about tithing that they read two or three books presenting BOTH sides of the issue. I would also recommend reading at least four church historians and cover the time period before AD 325.