Should the Church Teach Tithing?
A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Review of The Tithing Dilemma, Dr. Ernest Martin, 1974. Reprinted in 1979, 1989, 1993, 1997.

While a member of Herbert W Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, Martin graduated from its Ambassador College with a B. A. in 1958. B. A. in Theology in 1962 and Ph. D. in Education in 1966. From 1960-72 he was Secretary of the Board and Senior Professor of History and Theology at Ambassador College in London. In 1973 he became Chairmen of the Dept of Religion at Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA.

In 1974 (the year The Tithing Dilemma was first published) Martin left Ambassador and led the Foundation for Biblical Research from 1974-1985. In 1985 he began the ASK (Associates for Scriptural Knowledge). Martin died in 2002.

Because of his previous affiliation with the Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, the back cover of the book does not state the name of the college he had been associated with. Evidently The Tithing Dilemma was such a drastic break with what Armstrong taught that Martin chose to give up tenure and his Department Chair of Religion in order to pursue the truth of tithing and in other areas of theology. Eventually the church itself admitted error and made the drastic change. If only other churches would take this bold step towards truth.

In my opinion, The Tithing Dilemma is one of the very best anti-tithing (pro grace giving) books.


1. That the true holy tithe was only food from inside Israel (p27, 43).

2. That the true tithe could only be given to Old Covenant Levites (p10).

3. That Jews do not tithe today because they have no Temple nor Levitical priesthood (p13).

4. That modern tithing is completely out of its true biblical context (p16).

5. That firstfruits and tithes were never the same thing (p35).

6. That Levites and priests worked at other jobs while not working in the Temple (p37).

7. He rightly criticizes his former cultic church of Armstrong (P41, 52).

8. That Gentiles were not allowed to tithe under the Law (p44).

9. That the Temple support came from mostly non-tithed offerings (p45-47).

10. That Jesus’ mention of tithes in Mt 23:23 was in the context of the Law (p48).

11. That freewill sacrificial offerings in Acts 2 and 4 were not tithes (p54).


1. That Abraham’s tithe of pagan spoils of war was freewill rather than in obedience to the law of the land (p20).

2. That Israel paid tithes while wandering the wilderness for 40 years because (1) they were not in the holy land and (2) even the Levites left Egypt with their share of animals and wealth (p30-32).

3. That all tithes were brought to Jerusalem (p33) contrary to Neh 10:37-38.

4. That Moses changed the tithing law followed in the wilderness (p34).

5. That the only times the Levites got the full tithe was every third year and sixth years of a 7 year cycle (p34).

6. That there was only one tithe used in 3 different ways (p34).

7. That the only Levites who received tithes were those who were working in the Temple (p37). This makes no sense whatsoever in view of Neh 10:37-38; Neh 13:5-10 and 2 Chron 31:15-19.

8. That Malachi 3 only refers to the people of Judah (p40).