Rebuttal of Kenneth Copeland
Rebuttal of Tom Brown WOF



December 18, 2009

Marinelli: I have never seen a hard and fast rule of 10% explicitly stated in the New Testament as a commandment.

Kelly: That is because none exists. If it did, and, if tithing were legitimate, then tithe-recipients would not be allowed to own property and would have to kill anybody who dared to worship God directly per Numbers 18:21-29.

Marinelli: This matter of tithing is similar to the discussion of the Sabbath (See my Q&A about the Sabbath). The Sabbath was a type of our rest of faith (Hebrews 4), and has been since replaced with the first day of the week for worship (Acts 20:7).

Kelly: The Sabbath of Hebrews 4:3 is a type of the Creation Sabbath which lasted until Adam sinned. The 7th day Sabbath was only given to national Israel per Ex 31:13-17. Sunday does not replace the Sabbath commandment as part of the Law. According to Hebrews 8:13 the entire Old Covenant Law vanished at Calvary.

Marinelli: The New Testament shouts aloud of our freedom in Christ. We aren’t bound by ritualistic observances.

Kelly: Tithing was the most important ritualistic statute-ordinance-ceremonial law because it enabled the priesthood to exist. It was not a moral law.

Marinelli: The reason the Sabbath was supra-ritualistic is that God related it to His creation week in Genesis. This distinction made it more of a higher law than a mere ritualistic one. Such higher laws have fulfillment in the New Testament and some sort of replacements.

Kelly: The Sabbath was not a higher law. The 7th day Sabbath was the least important of all Sabbaths and required the least amount of sacrifices per Lev 23.

Marinelli: I believe the idea of the tithe also transcends ritualism because God references it as an acknowledgment of Him being the owner of all things and king over all creation.

Kelly: I disagree. True biblical tithes were holy because they came only from God’s miraculous increase of food from inside His holy land of Israel. No holy tithe could come from defiled pagan lands and no holy tithe could come from that which man’s skill produced. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers. While God was over all creation he only accepted holy tithes from inside Israel. That is ignored today.

Marinelli: In the Old Testament we see the importance of the tithe:

1) Abraham gave king Melchizedek a tithe of all he had, in honor of God the “possessor of Heaven and earth” (Gen 14:18-20).

Kelly: Melchizedek was the priest of El Elyon who was also the very common Most High God of all pagans of his time. The Canaanite god El and his son Baal also had the tithe of “possessor of heaven and earth.” Mariknelli’s statement does not prove that the “historical” Melchizedek even knew God as LORD, Yahweh, Jehovah.

Marinelli: Hebrews 7 extensively discusses the tithe from Abraham to Melchizedek as being a tithe offered to one far greater than the Levitical priesthood — namely Christ, the high priest of the order of Melchizedek.

Kelly: Hebrews 7 uses tithing as a vehicle to demonstrate that Jesus’ high priesthood replaced the Aaronic priesthood. It also uses types. It is not a command for the Church to switch tithing from Aaron to Jesus. In fact, the “necessary change of the law” mentioned in 7:12 results in its “annulment” in 7:18 from 7:5. The “change” was to “abolish” tithing.

Marinelli: 2) In ancient times, the tithe was an acknowledgement of your submission to a king. The usage of consecrated tithes existed among the Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, and Arabians.

Kelly: Yes, but this disproves your argument. Tithes were common before Abraham in pagan religions which also worshiped idols, the heavens, offered child sacrifices and practiced temple prostitution. Since none of those are moral, this is not an argument that tithing was moral merely because it was very old and very common.

Marinelli: In 1 Samuel 8 we have the account of Israel demanding a king. God warned the people that a king would demand ten percent from them (1 Sam 8:15-17). This shows that ten percent was normally due to the king — whether earthly or heavenly.

Kelly: The king’s tithe was not holy –it was the first tenth of everything –including persons. According to 1 Chronicles 23 to 26 the king collected the Levitical tithe and used it as a political tax. This is ignored today.

Marinelli: 3) Jacob (Israel), as an acknowledgement of Jehovah’s protection and provision, vowed to give a tenth (Gen 28:20-22).

Kelly: Wrong. The supplantor and schemer set the conditions and told God what to do. His “tithes” came from the defiled pagan land of Haran and are not the same as holy tithes under the law.

Marinelli: … Are we not Jacob’s descendants spiritually (Gal 3:29, Rom 9:6)?

Kelly: You are trying to manipulate God’s Word. Gal 3:29 refers to Abraham, not Jacob, and it does not refer to tithing if Abraham were required to give a tithe to his local priest-king from spoils of war or as a passage tax.

Marinelli: Based on our identity in Jacob and God’s faithfulness to Jacob and his descendants, it would follow that we should vow to God in a similar manner (at least in a similar willingness, if not amount)?

Kelly: Should we attempt to outsmart God and set the conditions by telling Him what to do? I seriously doubt it.

Marinelli: Perhaps our vow should be even more than ten percent since we have a better covenant than ancient Israel, established on better promises (Heb 8:6).

Kelly: Pure speculation. The only people required to begin their level of giving at ten per cent were food producers who lived inside Israel. You are building a straw man on a false assumption.

Marinelli: 4) Jesus acknowledged that the tithing of the Pharisees was a noble thing, but they were ignoring the weightier matters such as mercy, faith, etc. (Mt 23:23).

Kelly: The Pharisees had abused the Law and had made it a burden by adding garden spices to tithing requirements. Jesus lived and died under the jurisdiction of the law and must teach full obedience to it until Calvary. in Matthew 23:23 he was teaching about “matters of the law.” He was not addressing Gentiles or the Church because it was illegal for Gentiles to pay tithes to the Temple system.

Marinelli: I do understand that this is not an extremely strong argument for or against the tithe, since this narrative occurs prior to His establishment of the New Covenant (and vanishing of the Old), being prior to Christ’s death. [Heb 8:13]

Kelly: Then why did you even mention it?

Marinelli: 5) Proverbs 3:9-10 tells us “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase. So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine”.

Kelly: Firstfruits were never the same as tithes. Firstfruits were a small token offering of the FIRST. Tithes were one tenth of God’s miracle increase of food counted at the end of the harvest. See Deu 26:1-4 and Neh 10:35-38. It is diabolical to make poor Christians think that their first ten per cent must go to the church when Paul told Timothy in 1st Timothy 5:8 that one’s first should be used to buy medicine, food and essential shelter. How many poor do without medicine and food because of this lie?

Marinelli: I believe that Proverbs are directly relevant for today, as many of them are quoted directly in the New Testament. Part of Proverbs 3 is even quoted in Hebrews 12. Therefore I have to believe that this proverb is useful and profitable — a general principle for all time. It doesn’t give a specific percent to give, but it does claim that we should give of our income back to God, and thus “Honour” Him.

Kelly: The words “tithe, tithes, tithing” do not occur in Proverbs. Quotations of whole Proverbs are very rare in the NT. Their ideas are common to all knowledge and written by inspiration.

Marinelli: In addition, by doing so, God will fill our barns with plenty. It is a beautiful picture of Matthew 6:33 — seek His kingdom first, even financially (prior to spending a dime for anything else) — Give of our first fruits back to the very owner of it all. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21).

Kelly: Jesus told the rich young ruler and Zaccheus to give their wealth to the poor.

Marinelli: If our heart places Christ first, then we will naturally give the “first fruits” of our income back to God as an acknowledgment of Him being first in every area of life, including financial. If we spend our money on our own pleasures, and then see what is left for God, we demonstrate that His kingdom is not a priority in our lives.

Kelly: Sounds good, but it is not biblical. 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.

Marinelli: With these emphases in mind, I believe the tithe (as the Sabbath) is fulfilled in Christ, yet replaced with giving on the first day of the week “as God hath prospered” us (1 Cor 16:2) — a percentage based giving.

Kelly: There is not a single text where tithing was repeated to the Church after Calvary in terms of grace and faith in the New Covenant. Period. According to Hebrews 7:5, 12, 18 tithing was not “replaced” — it was “annulled.” Both 1 Cor 16:2 and 2 Cor 8 and 9 are discussions of food for famine relief in Judea. They are not discussions of how to give to the church or to support pastors with tithes.

Marinelli: Perhaps the percentage to give should be within the boundaries of Romans 14. If I feel the Spirit leading me to give more due to my prosperity, then I should give more.

Kelly: This is in agreement with 2 Cor 8:12-15 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.

13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: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:15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

Marinelli: If I fail to heed the Spirit’s prompting, and thus violate my conscience and spend the money selfishly, then I sin — for anything apart from faith is sin.

Kelly: I agree.

Marinelli: Concerning the blessing of the tither/giver, I don’t advocate or agree with “cursed if you don’t tithe” preaching. We are redeemed from the curse of the Law (Gal 3:13) and free from the law of sin and death …

Kelly: I agree.

Marinelli: … 2 Corinthians 9 as well as Philippians 4:19 … The contexts of both of these passages pertain to the financial ministry to ministers, which is parallel to the giving of the tithe to support the priests in the Old Testament.

Kelly: No, they are not parallel to tithing in the Old Testament. (1) As a rabbi Paul had been taught that it was sin to be paid for teaching the Word (per many church historians). (2) The OT priesthood was replaced by the priesthood of every believer who do not tithe to themselves. (3) The Temple was replaced by the indwelling Holy Spirit, (4) the covenant vanished and the New Covenant was built on completely different principles and (5) the Levites ended as God’s workers.

Marinelli: The servants of the Old Testament (i.e. priests) were given monetary support for their services (Num 18:21, also see “meat in my house” in Mal 3:10).

Kelly: You err when you think that Num 18:21 refers to priests. It only refers to the servants of the priests who vaguely correspond to modern ushers, deacons, musicians, choir and politicians. Verses 25-28 and Neh 10:38 prove that the priests only received one tenth of one tenth, or one per cent of the tithe. This is not followed today.

Marinelli: Similarly, the New Testament places an emphasis on supplying the needs of New Testament ministers. 1 Corinthians 9:9-14 makes it abundantly clear.

Kelly: The only thing that 1 Cor 9:9-14 makes clear is that each vocation cares for its own according to its own principles. The Law used its Law principles in 9:13 and the Gospel has gospel principles of grace and faith in 9:14. If 9:13 is the only reference to 9:14 instead of 9:6-13, it would require gospel workers to copy ALL means of support for Levitical priests. This is not done.

Marinelli: If we sow sparingly in this area, we will reap sparingly financially (2 Cor 9:6), and vice versa. 2 Corinthians 9:7 does intimate that our giving should be done “cheerfully” (literally – hilariously) and not out of necessity.

Kelly: Again, 2 Cor 8 and 9 is not a discussion of church or pastoral support. T only deals with food for famine relief in Judea. Tithes are not involved or intimated. Also, Levitical tithing in the law as seen in Leviticus 27 and Numbers 18 is stone cold Law which must be obeyed whether one was cheerful or not. The two concepts of cheerful giving and Levitical tithing are not related in the Bible.

Marinelli: As long as our pastors, missionaries, and the poor are supported, then we are being led properly.

Kelly: Again there is a disconnect. OT tithes were never used to send out a single missionary to convert the Gentiles. The New Covenant uses sacrificial giving in the vein of Jesus Christ to motivate. It does not use Law.

Marinelli: Those with abundance should give to those who lack (See Acts 2:45, 4:35) — a situation which we are VERY far from unfortunately.

Kelly: Acts 2 and 4 are not examples of tithing because those same Jewish Christians continued to give their tithes to the Temple system per Acts 15 and 21:20-21.

Marinelli: There is no specific mention in the New Testament as to who the first fruits should be paid to.

Kelly: Yes, there certainly is. Read First Timothy 5:8. They go to buy medicine, food and essential shelter for your family.

Marinelli: Those with abundance should give to those who lack (See Acts 2:45, 4:35) — a situation which we are VERY far from unfortunately. God forgive us!!

Kelly: Again, this compares to sacrificial freewill giving as in 2 Cor 8:12-15 –not to tithing.

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD