Should the Church Teach Tithing?
A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
TITHING: GOD’S FINANCIAL PLAN
Tthis is absolutely the worst book I have ever read on the subject of tithing.
Page 10: Instead of a loving faith response to God, Mr. Robertson dangles “thousands and even hundreds of thousands” of dollars in front of the believer as an incentive to tithe.
Page 10: He says that Jacob became wealthy as a result of keeping his covenant of tithing. Actually, in Genesis 28:20-22, Jacob really promised God that he would not even BEGIN tithing until God brought him back to Isaac’s house safely. Also, Jacob would have given his tithe directly to the poor since there were no Levitical priests yet.
Page 14: We are told that God wants all Christians to prosper financially. In reality, for the first two hundred years of its existence, church leaders boasted about supporting themselves and living in dire poverty as ascetics.
Page 17: Robertson’s definition of “tithe” is unscriptural. A survey of every tithing text makes it clear that tithing is always only food from the land of Israel under the old covenant context. Jewish tradesmen and craftsmen (such as carpenters) never tithed.
Page 19: When Robertson says that the tithe is always ten per cent, he disagrees with almost every Bible scholar, every Bible dictionary, and every Bible commentary. There were three tithes totaling from 20 to 23 per cent.
Page 21: Robertson places the curse of Malachi on new covenant believers. First, this was a curse of the old covenant Law; second, in Malachi 1-2 it is the priests who are cursed for stealing from God; third, Christians are not under any curse, according to Galatians 3:10-13.
Page 25: In demonstrating that the tithe is for today, Robertson proudly praises a church treasurer who committed fraud and embezzled other church members by stealing their tithe and giving it to the church. This is ludicrous; the church might have greatly profited financially, but the members could not possibly be blessed because they did not deliberately give.
Page 27: We are also told that tithing is for today because Abraham tithed before the Law and we are to follow Abraham’s example. Should we also follow Abraham’s example and give the remaining 90% to Satan, the king of Sodom? Check several commentaries on Genesis 14:21. Arab law controlled what was done in this chapter.
Page 29: We are told that tithing is not mentioned in the New Testament, especially after Calvary, because it never was an issue since everybody paid tithes. In other words, almost every other sin was being committed by church members and needed to be rebuked — except tithing! Tithing is mentioned after Calvary. The only post-Calvary mention of tithing abolished it as a supporting ordinance of the priesthood (Heb 7:5,12,18).
Page 29: First Corinthians 9:6-14 is given as proof that Paul taught tithing. Actually, verses 12b and 15-19 teach exactly the opposite! Paul gloried in his liberty to preach unhindered, for free. For Paul, “living of the gospel” meant daily depending on God by grace through faith, not law.
Page 31: Robertson says that the tithe should only be given to the church one attends, yet, on page 33, it is where you are being fed by God’s Word. Is it not possible to be fed by more than one minister of the gospel? In Nehemiah 10:37b and Numbers 18:21, the whole O.T. tithe was brought to the Levites in their Levitical cities, and not to the storehouse. The Levites were only servants to the priests. The priests were commanded to bring the “whole tithe” of their share (1/10 of 1/10) to the storehouse in Nehemiah 10:38.
Page 47: Robertson’s extended illustration of replanting is supposed to prove the “law of the tithe,” but proves only what happens when one replants 90% of seed. The illustration is backwards. Biblical farmers did not replant the other 90%. Most of the other 90% was eaten, used to pay taxes, or sold to buy other essentials. Also, in Robertson’s illustration, the land, taxes, harvesting, and all other expenses were provided for free by another person — thus the experiment is voided.
Conclusion: I recommend that any person sincerely desiring to know God’s truth about tithing prayerfully read at least 3-4 books on each position. Also, read 3-4 church historians on the first 200 years of the church.