SHOULD THE CHURCH TEACH TITHING?

NORTH, GARY COVENANTAL TITHE

Should the Church Teach Tithing?
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video essay

video tithing debate

COVENANTAL TITHE, THE, by Gary North

Rebuttal by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD, March 11, 2015

 

The following references to Dr. Russell Kelly are from Gary North’s book, The Covenantal Tithe.

http://www.garynorth.com/CovenantalTithe.pdf

 

North (10): Quotes Matthew 5:17-19 Some [of the Mosaic laws] have a purpose in our day. Tithing is one of these laws.

 

Kelly: The texts quoted do not allow for the use of the word “some.” Read them. According to 5:17-18 we are either still under ALL or the Law or NONE of it. “Law” includes all 600+ commands –commandments, judgments and statutes as illustrated in verses 21-47. According to 5:19 breaking even the least important of the “commandments” is wrong until they have all been fulfilled. According to 5:20 Jesus was speaking of the righteousness of the Law which He fulfilled. Each of the three categories is quoted numerous times. Tithing from Leviticus 27:30-33 refers to the whole law in 27:34; the same is true of Malachi 3:8-10 in 4:4.

 

North (10): The tithe laws applied to Mosaic Israel.

 

Kelly: And only to Mosaic Israel when one is speaking of the HOLY tithe as the word was used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus.

 

North (10): Christians need a Bible-based principle of interpretation in order to interpret correctly the applications of the laws of the Old Covenant in the New Covenant era.

 

Kelly: True, but Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology use opposite principles.

 

North (10): This biblical principle [how and what to bring over from the Old Covenant into the New] is the principle of judicial boundaries. I call it the principle of cross-boundary laws.

 

Kelly: Instead of using biblical terminology North and Covenant Theology invent extra-biblical ways of explain God’s Word.  He will later discard the seed, land, inheritance and priestly laws and retain tithing which was the basis of support for the priestly ceremonial statutes and ordinances.

 

North (11): COVENANT THEOLOGY PRINCIPLE: Unless an Old Covenant law is annulled in principle or specifically by the New Testament, it is still in force.

 

Kelly: DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY PRINCIPLE: Unless and Old Covenant law is repeated in or specifically implied by the Holy Spirit to the Church after Calvary in terms of the New Covenant, it is no longer in force.

 

North (11): The O.T. land laws were temporary.

 

Kelly: This is a great error. Beginning in Genesis 12:1-4, continuing in Genesis 13, 15 and in almost every prophet, the promises of an earthly Kingdom with Messiah ruling from Jerusalem in Judah are many and unconditional. Gen 13:15 “For all the land which you see, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.” Only the timing is delayed.

 

North (13): The fall of Jerusalem and the abolition of the temple’s sacrifices forever ended the Mosaic … land laws, seed laws and priestly laws.

 

Kelly: This non-verified statement by Covenant Theology cannot possibly negate the scores of unconditional land promises made concerning a future restored believing nation of Israel.  That which pagan Rome did in A.D. 70 cannot and does not blot out God’s promises in Genesis 13:15.

 

North (13): With this annulment of the tribal inheritance laws also came the annulment of the seed laws.

 

Kelly: (1) Genesis 12:2 “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curses thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (2) The seed laws for national Israel and for Messiah are integral parts of the same unconditional covenant God made with Abram.

(3) To discarding the tribal seed laws of Genesis 12:2 would also mean discarding the Seed promise of Messiah in 12:3.

(4) The tribal inheritance laws have only been postponed until after the Church Age is complete. 

(5) The New Covenant is addressed to “the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jer 31:31; Heb 8:8). “House” refers to physical seed.

(6) The Church and Gentiles partake of the overflow from Israel.

(7) The apostles’ last great question to Jesus before His ascension was “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus did not deny the fact (Acts 1:6-7).

(8) Revelation 7 and 14 mention 144,000 “from every tribe of Israel” in addition to a great multitude of others.

 

North (13): Once the temple was destroyed … therefore the Aaronic priesthood was annulled. …

 

Kelly: In God’s plan the Aaronic priesthood ended at Calvary when the priesthood and tithing ended (Heb 7:5, 12, 18). The last chapters of Ezekiel describe a future temple which operates on a different kind of system and the Levites still exist.

 

North (13): The tribal and family boundaries of the Abrahamic covenant ceased to operate after A.D. 70.

 

Kelly: Jer 31:35 “Thus says the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divides the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:

Jer 31:36 If those ordinances depart from before me, says the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever.

Jeer 31:37 Thus says the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says the LORD.

Jer 33:17 For thus says the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel.

 

North (13): This annulled the Mosaic Law’s applications of the Abrahamic covenant’s land and seed laws. The land and seed laws were an aspect of a single administration: the Mosaic Covenant.

 

Kelly: No. The land and seed laws are part of the unconditional Abrahamic covenant from Genesis 12:1-4; 13, 15 long before Moses. Yet, according to North, tithing remains. Read Numbers 18. Tithing was one of the foundational laws upon which the Aaronic priesthood was funded.

 

North (13): The New Covenant, which was based exclusively and forthrightly on the covenantal concept of adoption, replaced the Old Covenant.

 

Kelly: Exclusively??? It was based upon redemption.

 

North (14): What remains? The cross-boundary laws.

 

Kelly: (1) The “HOLY” tithe, as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus, was the tithe of the Old Covenant specifically for the support of the Old Covenant priesthood in exchange for service in the temple and loss of land inheritance rights in Israel. (2) The New Covenant did not replace the Abrahamic covenant of Genesis 12:1-4 which was unconditional after Abram obeyed God and left Haran to enter Canaan.

 

North (14): The Ten Commandments. These are moral.

 

Kelly: Except for the Sabbath commandment and the promise that those Hebrews who honor their parents would “live long in the land (of Israel), the underlying basis of the Ten Commandments is “nature” and “conscience” reflecting the character of God (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14-16; John 1:9).

 

North (14): These are moral. They are sometimes civil … They are sometimes ecclesiastical. The law of the tithe is an example.

 

Kelly: As far as Old Covenant national Israel was concerned, all 600+ commandments were “moral”; disobedience to any was SIN. Tithing was no exception for Israel, but failure to tithe is not a sin for those condemned by nature and conscience. How much to give is not written in the heart by nature and conscience.

 

North (14): The geographical and tribal promises that went to Abraham‘s seeds (plural) were fulfilled with the coming of the prophesied Seed (singular: Gal 3:16).

 

Kelly: No. Just the opposite is true. While Paul was discussing Genesis 12:3, North adds 12:2 and reaches a wrong conclusion. Yet he just said that the seed promises ended in A. D. 70!!! If the “Seed” (Messiah) promise of 12:3 is valid, so must be the “seed” (literal Israel) promise of 12:2. The second coming of Messiah will fulfill the many unconditional land promises by establishing a literal Messianic kingdom on earth for 1000 years (Rev 20).

 

North (14): Israel’s permanent disinheritance was prophesied by Jesus. Matt 21:43

“The kingdom of God shall be taken from you [chief priests and Pharisees] and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

 

Kelly: Temporary, not permanent. Israel’s prophets (especially Isaiah) go to great lengths describing how God would restore both houses of Israel to its land in peace. After saying “your house is left unto you desolate (Mt 23:38), Jesus said “Ye shall not see me henceforth, until ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (Mt 23:39). Dan 2:44 “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

 

North (14): This transfer of the kingdom’s inheritance to this new nation took place at Pentecost (Acts 2).

 

Kelly: Temporary, not permanent. (1) The inheritance of Israel was always a literal Messianic kingdom on Earth which would consume all other literal kingdoms. The inheritance for the Church is in heaven (John 14:1-6). (2) Jesus did not tell His apostles that there would be no future literal Kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6-7). (3) The temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 (Dan 9:26).  (4) God’s dealings with Israel stopped during the Church Age (between Dan 9:26-27). (5) The next prophetic event after the end of the Church Age will be the appearance of antichrist (Dan 9:27). (6) The 70 week prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 will end in total restoration of Israel (9:24).

 

North (14): The visible manifestation of the permanent revocation of the Abrahamic geographical inheritance was the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

 

Kelly: Repetition does not change facts. Pagan Rome cannot annul God’s covenants.

 

North (16): Genesis 2:15-17 God owns it all.

 

Kelly: Yes, but God only accepted as HOLY tithes of food from inside His HOLY land of Israel. The fact that God did not accept tithes from elsewhere supports my viewpoint that tithes were limited to food from inside Israel.

 

North (20): Man’s judicial token of subordination to the other six days a week is the tithe.

 

Kelly: No validating text.

 

North (20): It is a visible announcement of God’s ownership. The doctrine of the covenantal tithe begins with an assumption: God owns it all.

 

Kelly: Still no validating text. God never commanded the Church or Gentiles to tithe. Today all believers are priests and priests did not tithe.

 

North (20): The tithe is a judicially representative payment to God that symbolically announces two things: (1) God’s legal claim on all things and (2) man’s legal claim on everything besides the tithe as God’s delegated agent in history.

 

Kelly: No texts. There are 16 texts from Leviticus 27:30-34 to Luke 11:42 which describe the HOLY tithe of the Law as it was used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus. If the tithe were symbolic of God’s legal claim to everything, then God would have allowed HOLY tithes to come from everything O.T. Hebrews gained with their hands and minds; it would have included that which Gentiles gained; it would have been worldwide.

 

North (20): Man keeps ninety per cent as his legal commission from God.

 

Kelly: Why are there no texts for all of these statements? Is this how Covenant Theology works? You cannot use Abram for an example: (1) he only tithed pagan spoils of war, (2) he kept nothing and (3) he gave the 90% to the King of Sodom.

 

North (22): The payment of the tithe … is a Christian duty.

 

Kelly: Texts? While there are many principles of giving after Calvary in the New Testament, tithing is not one of them.

 

North (28): Covenant-breakers inherently understand that they owe God a token payment as the owner of creation.

 

Kelly: It is written in the heart of every person to give to help the cause of deity. However, “how much to give” is not included in nature and conscience (Rom 2:14-16).

 

North (28): They also understand that the correct means of payment is through tithing to priesthood.

 

Kelly: At least pretend to give a text –even if it is wrong. This is ridiculous. North makes a bold statement about what God expects and makes no attempt to validate it from God’s Word.

 

North (28): This is why the tithe principle was honored in many ancient societies other than the Israelite society.

 

Kelly: Is something that is old and common an eternal moral principle merely because pagans did it? Those same pagan cultures worshipped idols, sacrificed children and their temples were houses of prostitution and base immorality –very old and very common.

 

North (28): God has no interest in subsidizing rival priesthoods.

 

Kelly: North is arguing against his previous logic.  If God has no interest in subsidizing pagan priests, then He is not responsible for their distorted forms of unholy tithing.

 

North (29): Men owe a tithe to the church.

 

Kelly: Text? Except for Hebrews 7, the word “tithe” does not appear in the New Testament after Calvary. All church members are priests and priests did not tithe.

 

North (29): The church is God’s monopolistic agency of reconciliation between man and God.

 

Kelly: North sees the church as an organization. The church is an assembly of believers and a mysterious living body. The building is not the “house of God”; that is an Old Covenant concept.

 

North (31): The central argument in Hebrews is that there has been a change in the priesthood, which has changed everything (Heb 7:12).

 

Kelly: Agreed. The change meant the end of the Aaronic priesthood. It meant another priesthood of a king-priest patterned after the ORDER (not the person) of Melchizedek. It meant the annulment of tithing from 7:18 as the “commandment going before.”

 

North (31): Jesus has replaced the high priest. This has annulled the Levitical priesthood.

 

Kelly: Yes. And now every believer stands before God and is qualified to enter into the holiest presence of God and priests did not tithe (Heb 4:16).

 

North (32): Jesus Christ is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:10). Jesus made a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Heb 6:20). [bold added]

 

Kelly: Yes, yes, yes –after the ORDER of Melchizedek –not after the historical PERSON of Melchizedek.

 

North (32): Why is Hebrews 6:20 important? Because it identifies the covenantal foundation of the Mosaic priesthood as having been grounded in an earlier priesthood: Melchizedek’s.

 

Kelly: Heb 6:20 “Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

(1) Hebrews 6:20 is quoting Psalm 110:4, not Genesis 14. North never mentions Psalm 110:4 in this entire article. The writer of Psalm 110:4 uses the ORDER of Melchizedek as a type of the Messiah.

(2) The historical Melchizedek’s ORDER as king-priest was the forerunner and type of the literal priesthood of Jesus.

(3) Since Israel had no king-priest, it was necessary to go outside of the Hebrew society for the type.

 

North (32): Melchizedek’s priesthood was always covenantally superior to Levi’s.

 

Kelly: Covenantal theology gibberish.

 

North (32): The argument leading up to this declaration is basic to the epistle’s affirmation of a new covenantal order.

 

Kelly: “ORDER,” not PERSON. Hebrews 7 is a comparison of historical verses type. The Holy Spirit inspired ORDER to be repeated seven (7) times in Hebrews. North is all around this truth, but does not grasp it (Heb 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:11, 11, 17, 21).

 

North (34): The next event described in the Bible after the meeting between Abram and Melchizedek is God’s covenantal promises regarding Abraham and his heirs.

 

Kelly: The preceding chapter 13:14-17 is very clear that the land of Israel will belong to Abraham’s literal seed forever. Yet Covenant Theology dismisses it. The next chapter, 15:17-21, repeats the land promises in an unconditional way –God put Abram to sleep and walking among the cut covenant alone!

 

North (34): Gen 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.

 

Kelly: It is obvious why North ignores Genesis 13:15 “For all the land which thou see, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.” He teaches that the land promises ended in A. D. 70.

 

North (35); Melchizedek offered Abram bread and wine. This was the first manifestation in the history of the church’s covenant meal: the Lord’s Supper.

 

Kelly: Not necessarily. (1) Bread and wine were the most common and most abundant food and drink. Any king-priest of any religion would have chosen those items to serve to a victorious army returning to give him tithes from spoils of war. (2) The O. T. priests never serve bread and to the people; it is the other way around. The people always bring food to the priests; they serve the priests at both the festival meal and the meal for the poor in the third year tithe.

 

North (35): In response Abram paid a tithe to Melchizedek.

 

Kelly: “Why?” The Bible does not reveal why. It does not say that Abram gave “because of God’s command” or “because of freewill.” It is equally possible that Abram gave tithes of spoils of war because it was the expected tradition in the world around 2000 B.C. I know of no church historian or archaeologist who would deny this fact.

 

North (36-37): Quotes Hebrews 7:1-7

 

Kelly: North misses two points: (1) the significance of “by interpretation” in 7:2 and (2) the significance of “order.”

 

North (37): The sons of Levi were necessarily subordinate to the order of Melchizedek. … The author is arguing covenantally.

 

Kelly: The order of Melchizedek was that he was a king-priest. Levites were only priests. They were not subordinate to the person of the historical Melchizedek. North and Covenant Theology see covenants everywhere. This is a play on hierarchy which might work in a Hebrew court system, but not necessarily anywhere else.

 

North (38): Quotes Genesis 14:21-24. [Abram’s encounter with the King of Sodom.]

 

Kelly: Abram told the King of Sodom that he worshipped Yahweh El Elyon, God Most High. Why did Melchizedek not incorporate the name of God, Yahweh, into his own title? The omission speaks volumes. Since the birth of Enos the righteous lineage called God by his covenantal name of Yahweh (Gen 4:26).

 

North (38): Abram represented his nephew Lot. Lot was under his protection.

 

Kelly: Questionable. In Genesis 13 Lot chose to leave Abram’s protection. What is the point here?

 

North (39): The king of Sodom, by accepting this payment, was symbolically acknowledging who was in charge here: Abram’s God.

 

Kelly: Not necessarily. He was glad to get back the wealth of his city and its citizens. What is the point here?

 

North (39-40): By giving a tenth to Melchizedek, Abram was acknowledging two things. First, he was subordinate to Melchizedek. Second, he possessed lawful title to all of the spoils.

 

Kelly: He had chosen to pass through Melchizedek’s territory and was required to obey the laws of the land concerning king-priests.

 

North (40): The author describes Melchizedek as “King of righteousness and after that king of Salem, which is King of peace.

 

Kelly: NO! NO! NO! Read Hebrews 7:2 and see what North deliberately omitted. Heb 7:2

“To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace.” He specifically says that the historical Melchizedek was only such FIRST BY INTERPRETATION. Let the text speak for itself.

 

North (41): Quotes Genesis 49:10 When Shiloh came, Jacob said, the scepter would depart. We know that it did depart, forever, at the fall of Jerusalem. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh come.”

 

Kelly: In other words, the promise of a coming Messiah would stay with Judah and, within a few years (A. D. 27-30), also end. That makes no sense at all. I suggest that North read about a dozen commentaries on this text by Hebrew scholars such as Keil and Delitzsch.

 

North (41): When the sacrifices ended, the holy status of the land ended. The Mosaic priesthood ended. The tribal system ended.

 

Kelly: When the sacrifices ended, the holy status of the land and the tribal system temporarily ended during the Church Age but will be restored during the Messianic Age on Earth. The Mosaic priesthood ended and was replaced by that of Jesus Christ and his kingdom of Christian priests.

 

North (41): The priesthood belonged to Levi. … The scepter belonged to Judah. Never the two cold meet under the Mosaic Covenant.

 

Kelly: Agreed. That is why God had to go outside of Israel and pick a king-priest to be a type of Melchizedek’s ORDER.

 

North (41): (But they did meet in the person of Jesus Christ. With that fusion the scepter departed from Judah.

 

Kelly: “Fusion” means a joining. It does not mean total loss of identity.

 

North (42): The other duty of the Mosaic priesthood --administering covenant meals—extends into the New Covenant.

 

Kelly: Where did O.T. priests serve meals to Israel? During the 2nd festival tithe and 3rd poor tithe the people of Israel served meals to the priests.

 

North (42): There is still a covenantal function for a sanctified, ordained priesthood. Therefore there is still a requirement for tithing for the nation of priests.

 

Kelly: No texts. Covenant Theology gibberish.

 

North (44): Quotes Genesis 28:20-22

 

Kelly: Jacob’s vow to tithe.

 

North (44): Melchizedek was still alive (Heb 7:3).

 

Kelly: North is confusing type with historical.

 

North (44): A household priest prior to the Mosaic Covenant had no one to tithe to except on a special occasion.

 

Kelly: There is no biblical text that household priests tithed to anybody else on a regular basis.

 

North (51): The Levitical tithe was the God-mandated payment to the tribe of Levi for the tribe’s legal separation from specific plots of rural land in single region. [Num 18:21-24]

 

Kelly:  (1) The payment was only food from inside God’s holy land of Israel. (2) It replaced land inheritance rights inside Israel. (3) According to Numbers 18:20, Levites were also to “have no part with them” –they were not to share in the wealth of the other tribes. (4) God never changed this description of the HOLY tithe. (5) So-called modern tithe recipients ignore all of these parts of the tithe law.

 

North (52): Quotes Numbers 18:21-23

 

Kelly: The Levite who received the whole 10% of the Levitical tithe were only servants to the priests (Num 18:21-24). Also Neh 10:37b. If this were brought over into the New Covenant (and it wasn’t), it would be given to greeters, ushers, deacons, musicians, singers, treasurers, etc. –not to the ministers.

 

North (52): The Levites represented the nation on behalf of the nation of priests (Ex 19:6).

 

Kelly: North keeps repeating this error. Israel never became a nation of priests because they disobeyed God and worshipped idols when Moses went to receive the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32). North cannot admit this because it destroys his arguments.

 

North (52): There was also an additional payment to the priests: a tithe of the Levite’s income of the tithes. [Numbers 18:25-28; Neh 10:38]

 

Kelly: The ministers at the altar only received one per cent (1%) of the Levitical tithe, not ten per cent. This is ignored today. They also received many other freewill offerings firstborn, firstfruits and parts of the sacrificial animals. (Num 18:1-19; Deut 26:1-4; Neh 10:35-37a, 38)

 

North (53): Quotes Numbers 18:26-28.

 

Kelly: Only one per cent (1%) of the Levitical tithe to the ministers at the altar.

 

North (57): Quotes Numbers 18:20-21

 

Kelly: Levites and priests who received the tithe were to receive no land inheritance and could not share in Israel’s wealth. God repeated this ten (10) times.

 

North (59): Quotes Lev 27:30-32. The texts relating to the tithe usually referred to agricultural produce.            

 

Kelly: Verse 33 includes clean animals --specifically not the best nor the first, but the tenth. Tithes were never firstfruits.

 

North (60): if a Levite inherited a business his son could inherit it. .. There was therefore no reason for a member of another tribe to pay a tithe on a business other than land-based agriculture.

 

Kelly: “No inheritance in the land” (Num 18:20).

 

North (61): References me.

 

Kelly: Confusing.

 

North (69): Quotes Deut 14:22-23 celebration tithes.

 

Kelly: This was a second yearly tithe totaling at least 20%. It was eaten in the streets of Jerusalem during the 3 annual feasts. Very few ask for 20% tithes.

 

North (71): Quotes Deut 14:28-29 3rd year tithe.

 

Kelly: This is a third tithe to be kept in the homes every 3rd year totaling 23%. This is ignored.

 

North (91): Malachi introduces a fundamental judicial concept: refusing to give what is required by God constitutes theft.

 

Kelly: (1) It only applies to Old Covenant Israel (1:1). (2) It only applied to priests who had stolen the Levites’ portion of the tithe (1:6-14; 2:1-2; Neh 13:5). (3) It only applied to food from inside God’s holy land (3:10). (4) It did not apply to New Covenant believers, to non-food-producers inside Israel nor to Gentiles. (5) English law requires money from believers to support the Anglican Church; that law does not apply to believers in other countries.

…..

On the other hand: (1) gospel ministers who receive the whole tithe constitutes theft. (2) Receiving the tithe and owning property probably constitutes theft and (3) Sharing in the wealth of the land constitutes theft (Num 18:20) –“nor have any portion with them.”(4) Calling the tithe firstfruits constitutes deception.

 

North (91-92): Quotes Malachi 3:10-12. God now offers Israel another opportunity to test the reliability of His covenant sanctions in history.

 

Kelly: (1) “Offers Israel” –not New Covenant believers. (2) The entire law was a test, not simply tithing. God did not bless tithers who broke the law in other ways. (3) The “you” in Malachi refers to the priests (1:6; 2:1). The covenant in Malachi refers to the limited covenant made with Levi (2:3-10).

Gal 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 continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

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 hangs on a tree.”

 

North (93): A Single Storehouse: Mal 3:10.

 

Kelly: This is a great error. Not even Solomon’s temple (still standing in Hezekiah’s day) had storage room for all the tithe of the nation. That is why it rotted in the streets. Read Second Chronicles 31:1-19. According to First Kings 6:6 the largest room in the temple was about 10’ by 20’ and a “large room” per Nehemiah 13:5 was twice that size. Nehemiah 10:37b clearly states that the whole tithe was first brought to the Levitical cities and verse 38 says that the tenth of the tithe was brought to the temple (as needed). God would not expect Levites and priests to travel to Jerusalem for food every time they got hungry.

 

North (93): Which tithe was Malachi talking about? The tithe of tithes which went to the temple priests. This had always been true in Mosaic Israel. The Mosaic Law was clear. The tithes of the people went to the local Levites.

 

Kelly: I wonder where North got this idea. Other than myself I have never read it anywhere else. His “single warehouse” comment makes no sense (in his argument!) if it only referred to 1% and not 10%.

 

North (94): Note: the temple priests did not tithe.

 

Kelly: Again, North probably learned this from studying my material. They gave freewill vows in Malachi 1:6-14.

 

North (94): Quotes Ex 19:6 again.

 

Kelly: North keeps coming back to his argument that all Israelites became priests. He is wrong. That was God’s original plan but it was changed when God chose Aaron to be the priests for the nation after the golden calf incident (Exodus 32; Numbers 18:1-3).

 

North (94-95): Quotes Neh 10:37-38.

 

Kelly: These are the clearest texts in the Bible telling where the tithes originally were brought –to where Levites and priests lived.

 

North (95): So the house of the LORD was the storehouse for the tithe of the tithes.

 

Kelly: It was not large enough to hold the tithes of the nation and it made no sense to send them there. (1 Kings 6:6; Neh 13:5)

 

North (97): Quotes Mt 23:23-24 the rabbinical tithe.

 

Kelly: Matthew 23:23 was before Calvary and in the context of “matters of the law.” Jesus must teach tithing at that time in history or sin. Yet it was also sin to teach His disciples to tithe to Him or to His apostles. It was also sin to teach Gentiles to tithe.

 

North (97): Jesus told the religious leaders of Israel that paying tithe was the minimal requirement and that they had ignored the weightier matters.

 

Kelly: Wrong. The “minimum” argument is not biblical. The only persons required to begin at 10% in the Old Covenant were food producers living inside God’s HOLY land of Israel. Nobody else anywhere else qualified. Therefore there is no “minimum” precedent.

 

North (97): He made it clear that the tithe was not optional. It is mandatory.

 

Kelly: Again, this was before Calvary in the context of “matters of the law.” Jesus had no choice but to teach tithing to support the Aaronic priesthood. This is irrelevant to the New Covenant. Furthermore, tithes were still only food 1600 years after Leviticus 27:30-3.

 

North (98): This passage could be dismissed as pertaining only to Old Covenant Israel. But if this line of argumentation is valid, then everything that Jesus recommended or commanded is subject to the same easy dismissal.

 

Kelly: This is true only if the Covenant Theology principle of interpretation is correct: “Everything in the Old applies in the New except that which is specifically abolished in the N.T. after Calvary.”

The Dispensational principle is the opposite: “Nothing in the Old applies to the New except that which is repeated after Calvary.”

North argues that beastiality is not condemned after Calvary but it is included in texts such as Romans 1 all; 2:14-16 and Gal 5:19-21. I argue that the N.T. does not remove slavery and abuse of women; they ended as the gospel spread...

 

North (98): [This would mean that] covenant-keeping men … are not under any legal requirement to pay God His lawful percentage of all economic increases.

 

Kelly: “Lawful”? New Covenant believers are not under Old Covenant laws unless they are repeated after Calvary in terms of the New. Until now North has agreed that tithes were only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel. Now he re-defines the word at his own discretion without any Bible validation.

 

North (98): Man is God’s sharecropper. … The sharecropper is supposed to pay a fixed percentage return on the output of his capital.

 

Kelly: Pure nonsense. Bad illustration. The O.T. landowner was required to pay his sharecroppers daily. Nothing is said about them paying him anything.

 

North (99): Quotes Ephesians 6:2-3. “Honor thy father and thy mother …” This passage implies that the church is entitled to the tithe, just as Melchizedek was entitled to Abram’s tithe, just as the Levites were entitled to a tithe from the farmers (Num 18:21. 26)….

 

Kelly: Another bad illustration. Just because the verse has “honor” in it, North tries to link it to tithing. Since when did children tithe to their own parents? It is the parents who gave their children an allowance. Melchizedek was not Abram’s father. Melchizedek was entitled to Abram’s spoils of war tithe because he was his subject and because of the tradition of paying spoils of war tithes to the king-priests.

 

North (99): Civil government that takes as much as a tithe is a tyranny (1 Sam 8:15, 17).

 

Kelly: First Samuel 8:15-17 does not call the king’s tithe a tyranny. David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah were not tyrants. They ruled Israel and Judah as righteous kings who faithfully served Yahweh.

 

North (100): But why should the Holy Spirit lead people to donate less than a tithe? The Bible teaches that the tithe is the minimum payment.

 

Kelly: Like most tithe-teachers North keep repeating this “minimum” mantra. (1) For the third time, the only people required to begin tithing as a minimum were food producers living inside God’s holy land of Israel. Nobody else anywhere else could legitimately tithe. There was no universal “minimum” standard in the Old Covenant. (2) There is no minimum standard of giving in the New Covenant.

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 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.

2 Cor 8:15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.”

 

North (102): THE CHRISTIAN TITHE. Quotes Hebrews 2:17 to 3:1.

 

Kelly: There is nothing about tithing in those texts. North does not quote Hebrews 4:15-16 which makes Christians equal to the O.T. high priest who enter into the Most Holy Place.

 

North (102): Quotes 1 Peter 2:9-10; Rev 1:6. Christians are the heirs of the Israelites as the kingdom of priests.

 

Kelly: Christians are the heirs of the Abrahamic seed promise of Genesis 12:3. They are co-heirs, or fellow-heirs, with the Israelites.

 

North (104): The new law of the tithe is that Christians must pay their tithe to the local church, as the ecclesiastical representative of the high priest (Heb 7:12).

 

Kelly: Hebrews 7:12 does not agree. (1) There is no “new law of the tithe.” It is not found in Scripture. (2) There is no such thing as an ecclesiastical church organization in Scripture. (3) The “necessary change of the law” in Hebrews 7:12 refers back to tithing in 7:5. The “change” was to “annul the commandment going before” “to collect tithes” (7:18, 5). That “change” was not to shift it to gospel workers.

 

North (105): Quotes Heb 7:22-24 ----not 7:18.

 

Kelly: North skips the conclusion of 7:5 and 7:12 in 7:18 “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 7:19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” Again, the law of tithing was not shifted to gospel workers.

 

North (105): Holy land now encompasses whatever is mode holy through ownership by Christians.

 

Kelly: Again, with no biblical authority, North has radically changed the definition of biblical “holy land.” This is gross manipulation of God’s Word.

……………………………………………………………….

North (129-130): Russell Earl Kelly cites a pair of theologians.

“Unless and Old Covenant law is somehow restated or reinforced in the New Testament, it is no longer directly binding on God’s people.”

 

Kelly: Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart are two of the country’s most respected theologians. See my book, page 133. Our hermeneutic is exactly opposite to that of North and Covenant Theology. The Dispensational principle when bringing material over from the Old into the New Covenant is this: The New Covenant is new; it is not a restatement of the Old.  Christians and Gentiles have never been under the Old Covenant. Only that which has been repeated after Calvary in terms of grace and faith apples to New Covenant Christians.

 

North (131): One word calls this interpretation –this entire hermeneutic into question: bestiality. There is no reference to bestiality in the New Testament. … there can be no Bible-based legal opposition to

beastiality. … Fee, Stuart and Kelly have some explaining to do.

 

Kelly: Gary North and Covenant Theology attack Dispensational Theology using this argument. They teach that we must allow beastiality because it is not specifically mentioned in the New Covenant.

 

I wholeheartedly disagree for the following reasons:

Reason #1: Galatians 5:19-21 lists the works of the flesh. Among them are “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness ‘and things such as that, or like that.’” Other translations read “immorality, impurity and lewdness.” Certainly “uncleanness, immorality, impurity, lewdness and things like that” would include beastiality.

Reason #2: Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.

Reason #3: Romans 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.

Reason #4: Romans 1:31 without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.

Reason #5: Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

 

On the other hand, it can also be charged that Covenant Theology fails for the same reason. Since the Old Covenant does not mention many sins which are common in modern society, does that mean that they are acceptable and not sins? Of course not! Slavery, women’s equal rights and drug abuse are not specifically condemned in the Bible. Jihad-genocide of unbelievers is even encouraged in the Old Testament. He has some explaining to do also.

 

North (132): Dr. Kelly openly accuses anyone who preaches that tithing is required by God of being not merely heretical but clearly under God’s curse.

 

Kelly: I have never said or written that tithe-teachers are “clearly” under “God’s” curse. Read on please. Many are sincerely wrong, but still blood-brothers in Christ.

 

North (132): To understand why this is his position, consider the fact that Paul wrote that anyone who preaches another gospel is under God’s curse. Quotes Galatians 1:6-8.

 

Kelly: On North’s page 133 he quotes my page 140. The following is the whole quotation beginning chapter 18. That which North quoted is underlined.

“When a preacher stands in the pulpit and insists that Christians must pay ten percent of their gross income to the church, that preacher is not grounded in Bible basics about the covenants, the law, national Israel, and the church. He is not "rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). He is preaching "another gospel" and is "perverting the gospel" (Gal. 1:6-7). While Paul said that he had "fully preached the gospel" and that he had "kept back nothing that was profitable", tithing is not once encouraged by Paul (Rom. 15:19; Acts 20:20)! If the epistle of Hebrews is not written by Paul (as many think), then the word "tithe" never appears in his writings.”

….

(1) I did not use the word “clearly” because I do not believe sincere tithe teachers are cursed by God. I believe that many are reprobate and deliberately teach error for financial gain—they are cursed. They need to be saved.

(2) I did not quote Galatians 1:8-9 where those who pervert the gospel are cursed twice by Paul.

(3) I believe that no true believer can be cursed by God

(4) I am not convinced that the curse of Galatians 1:8-9 is God’s curse. Paul is full of anger and it may be his own personal curse. See also 3:1 where he asks “Who has bewitched you?”  Men and women in extreme anger often say “Damn you” or “Curse you.”

 

North (133): There can be no more serious accusation against a preacher.

 

Kelly: The preachers of Galatians 3:1 had added works of the Law to the gospel formula of grace and faith (compare Galatians 3:1-5 to Ephesians 2:8-10). Yes, it is a very serious matter:

Gal 2:12 “For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

Gal 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, live after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”

 

North (133): My book is an attempt to show that preachers who deny … tithing are making a theological mistake. I do not believe they are preaching another gospel.

 

Kelly: There can be only one true gospel. Covenant and Dispensational theologies use opposite hermeneutics of the Law. Calvinism and Arminianism use opposite hermeneutics of election and free will. If you are honest with yourself you will admit that you believe everybody who disagrees with you is preaching another gospel, even though often sincerely. If they are not preaching another gospel, then what are they preaching? They often totally disagree with you.

 

North (133): The fact that Kelly begins his book with a chapter on how Melchizedek was probably a pagan Canaanite priest who had never heard of the God Jehovah indicates just how far he is willing to go in denouncing the tithe. Melchizedek, he writes, was in all likelihood “a self-appointed and self-named pagan priest-king similar to hundreds of others found in his vicinity around 2000 B.C.

 

North (133-134): But didn’t he worship God? Quotes Genesis 14:18-20.

 

Kelly: (1) Did Melchizedek worship El Elyon (Most High God)? Very definitely! He was priest of El Elyon.  However, El Elyon was an extremely common name for gods in the most high places of mountain tops. (2) Did Melchizedek recognize that El Elyon was also Yahweh? God’s Word does no tell us and I do not make this a key point for or against tithing. (3) Fausset’s Bible Dictionary and the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia both agree that El Elyon was also the title of pagan gods of the Phoenicians and Canaanites. (4) The big question is “If Melchizedek knew God as Yahweh, why did he not incorporate God’s covenant name into his own title? See pages 20-23, Should the Church Teach Tithing?

 

North (134): Didn’t Abraham worship the same God? Quotes Genesis 14:22.

 

Kelly: I discuss this in my book. When Abram addressed the King of Sodom he told him (not Melchizedek) “I have lifted up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth” (Gen 14:22). Yet the line of promise called God Yahweh as far back as Seth. Gen 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

 

North (134): Quotes Hebrews 7:1-2 to prove that Melchizedek worshipped Yahweh.

 

Kelly: Read the text for yourself. The historical Melchizedek was only the King of Righteousness and the King of Salem “by interpretation.” That is not true of Jesus Christ. Without needing any interpretation, Jesus is literally the King of Righteousness and the King of Peace.

 

North (134): Kelly is a little vague here. “We must realize the difference between the historical Melchizedek of Genesis 14 and the typical Melchizedek of Psalm 110 and Hebrews 7.”

 

Kelly: Where was I vague? Those who fail to distinguish between the historical and typical Melchizedek in Hebrews completely miss what is being taught. Read my chapter on Hebrews 7.

 

North (134): If you are thinking “this makes no sense,” you share my view.

 

Kelly: It makes no sense if you do not distinguish between the historical and typical. There is a very obvious contrast made here and I go into great detail in my book.

 

North (135): Quotes me out of context.

 

Kelly: Here is the entire quotation from pages 151-152 in my book. The underlined is what North quoted.

This is important! “Negative” features about Melchizedek are actually reversed to become “positive” features of Christ in Psalm 110 and Hebrews 5-7. Negatively, Melchizedek only worshiped the Gentile concept of a god called “El Elyon, God Most High.” He did not know God as “Yahweh, the LORD,” the God of Abraham’s household. Also negatively, his family record did not exist. Without a proven genealogy, he would never qualify later under the Old Covenant, either as a Levitical priest, or as a legitimate king from one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The genealogies of Genesis do not link him to Abraham, Noah, or anybody else!

 

Psalm 110 and Hebrews use Melchizedek’s “negatives” as “positives.” Whereas, the LORD (Yahweh) was the exclusive covenant God of Abraham and Old Covenant Israel, in the New Covenant, God expanded special knowledge of himself beyond national Israel.

 

When God reached out as “God Most High” to all nations, Melchizedek’s unrecorded family tree is used to illustrate that Christ was eternal, pre-existed his incarnation, and was superior to the law.

 

North (135): This is obviously wrong.

 

Kelly: It was obviously taken out of context.

 

North (135): Quotes my book on page 158 about Hebrews 7:13, 14 and concludes with “This is just plain nuts.” Heb 7:13 “For he of whom these things are spoken pertains to another tribe of which no man gave attendance at the altar.”

 

Kelly: The writer of Hebrews is trying once again to make sure his/her readers do not confuse the play on typology with the literal historical Melchizedek. Jesus is the focus.

 

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

www.tithing-russkelly.com

russkellyphd@yahoo.com

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