Posted by: TWotWoF VIDEO ROW | March 13, 2009

Should the Church Teach Tithing: by Dr. Russell Earl Kelley: Book Review and VIDEO ESSAY

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A 2 hour video of the 19 point essay “Tithing is Not a Christian Doctrine” The video is showing me, Russell Earl Kelly, Ph. D. with no material displayed.

Every statement has something important and challenging. Novice editing makes it choppy in a few places. It is far from perfect but well worth the view. Friends, I am not opposed to financially supporting churches and the advancement of God’s kingdom. However I am opposed to supporting churches using the false doctrine of NT tithing instead of better New Covenant freewill offering principles.

You can get this video on DVD from my website: There you can also find the book: Tithing: Should the Church teach tithing? – A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you, Russell Earl Kelly, Ph. D

In the Old Testament is a concept called “tithing.” What that exactly means, and how it may or may not be applicable to New Testament believers, is a contentious matter.

Should the Church Teach Tithing
by Russell Earl Kelly, Ph. D.
Search Amazon for other books by or about Russell Earl Kelly, Ph. D..Rating:
Reviewed by: John L. Hoh, Jr.

In my own Lutheran heritage there is no tithing requirement. Oh, I know pastors who will opine that the tithe is a minimum, but they also realize we have Christian freedom and that “God loves a cheerful giver.”

I know that there are churches in the Milwaukee area that require a tithe. It must help. These churches have new facilities and their pastors wear nice clothes and drive nice cars. I also know that with recent events in the news—from the Oral Roberts scandal to the priest abuse scandals and scandals from days past—that people, especially members, are requiring more transparency and openness. Yet many churches still require the tithe. And this isn’t a tithe on net income (the amount stated on the paycheck you actually get to spend), but on gross income (what the paycheck says is yours before deductions for taxes, FICA, health insurance, etc. are taken from your paycheck).

Like I said, the issue of tithing is not a hot debate among Lutheran churches. Thus the exegesis that I have had on the subject is minimal. I have even equated the tithe with the first fruits, which Dr. Kelly sets straight are two distinctly different concepts altogether. Needless to say this book was very educational on a topic I hadn’t studied in great depth before.

Dr. Kelly does an excellent job of exegesis. He uses as a reference point the passages used by the tithers to support their assertion that the Christian must tithe. But Dr. Kelly doesn’t just study the quoted proof passages. He also studies the context. What was going on when the passage was said or written? What were the circumstances? These are adeptly studied so that the reader can also study for him/herself whether what Dr. Kelly says about the tithe is true or not.

For instance, the tithe was only on grain from the field and of the livestock. The tithe was never levied on monetary income or any income (monetarily or barter) earned working a trade. And the first fruits were something else apart from the tithe. Basically, as I understand it, the first fruits were the first of the harvest to be offered as sacrifice (and a meager sacrifice at that); the tithe was levied after the crop was gathered and the livestock accounted.

The poor did not tithe. Rather, the tithe supported the poor.

The tithe was not on gross income, or even gross worth. It was based only on agricultural income.

Dr. Kelly does a thorough exegesis, takes each passage in its context, and systematically point-by-point lays out the premise that the modern system of tithing in churches is unscriptural. I did review several passages examined by Dr. Kelly and have to agree with him on much of his treatise. And, no, I didn’t examine the Greek and Hebrew texts.

Not that the book doesn’t have weaknesses; they are just minor. The over-use of bold, italicized, and capitalized text deadens their impact. It would have been better to employ indented paragraphs to highlight passages and key points. An index would have been nice, especially if the reader wants to explore further one aspect of tithing. But these are minor points and I was able to read the book and comprehend the scholarship of Dr. Kelly.

This is a long-overdue look at a topic that is contentious in many evangelical circles. Dr. Kelly even cites people he knows who are well qualified for ministry but are barred—simply because they question the doctrine of tithing. Dr. Kelly himself seeks to open a dialog on this issue. He finds the modern tithe far from the scriptural model found in Scripture. This book is a must read for any Christian, especially those wrestling with the issue of tithing. While the book is scholarly, it is written so that the average layperson can understand it.

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