Rebuttal of Kenneth Copeland on Tithing
BY Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
August 18, 2009
Understanding Tithing, Kenneth Copeland
Russell Kelly: When it comes to discussing any doctrine with Word of Faith preachers such as Kenneth Copeland, it is impossible to dialog from the standpoint of biblical hermeneutics (principles of interpretation). Word of Faith ignores context and uses God’s Word as a magic Ouija board to pull meaning out of individual words against God’s teaching.
Copeland: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:10-11).
Kelly: This is the most mis-interpreted text in all of the Bible. God does not and cannot bless New Covenant believers because of their supposed obedience to one of hundreds of Old Covenant commands which were never commanded to the Church after Calvary (1:1, 6; 2:1).
Copeland: This is God Himself speaking and He is saying, “Prove Me in this.” This is the only time in the Word where God instructs us to prove Him, and it is the one area where most people have withdrawn from proving God.
Kelly: First, Malachi was addressed only to Old Covenant national Israel and NOT to New Covenant Christians. Second, the statement by Copeland is false. The whole law was a test –not merely tithing. Obey ALL to be blessed; break ONE to be cursed. The only way to claim blessings from tithing would be to obey the whole Old Covenant law (Neh 10:29; Gal 3:110-13). And, even then, God is working through His New Covenant stipulations. See http://www.tithing-russkelly.com/id154.html.
Copeland: Tithing was instituted under the Old Covenant as a way for God to communicate His blessing to His people.
Kelly: Notice that Copeland does not even give “out of context” texts to validate this statement. He merely declares it to be so! That is his specialty. Tithing was instituted in Numbers 18 to sustain Levites and priests for ministering in the sanctuary and for losing land and property inheritance. Copeland gets both: he received the tithe and he owns much property which is against the tithing law.
Copeland: The word tithe means “tenth or ten percent.”
Kelly: This is the greatest lie of tithe-teachers. If one defines “tithe” from God’s Word it always refers only to food from inside Israel which had been miraculously increased by God. Although money was common even in Genesis and essential for sanctaury worship, money was never included in the 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did the poor nor those (like almost all of us) who lived outside of Israel in defiled pagan lands.
Copeland: Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” Tithes are to be given from the first fruits, from the top— the gross, not the net.
Kelly: This is another common lie told by tithe-teachers. Firstfruits and tithes were never the same thing in the Bible. Firstfruits were very small token offerings per Deu 26:1-4; Neh 10:35-38 and the Pentecost wave-sheaf. Tithes were tenth-fruit only after the full harvest or every tenth animal –whether the best or not per Lev 27:30-34.
Copeland: A person who does not tithe is robbing God and is operating under a curse (Malachi 3:8-9). The first fruits of our income is God’s; it is not ours to use to pay bills.
Kelly: Copeland has combined two lies here. If he receives tithes, then he should obey the whole tithing satute of Numbers 18. (1) Give the first whole Levitical tithe to Levite servants such as ushers, deacons, choir, musicians and politicians per 18:21-24 and 1 Chron 23 to 26. (2) Only give 1% to priests per 18:25-28. (3) Ignore the NT doctrine of the priesthood of every believer. (4) Only allow preachers inside the sanctuary. (5) Forfeit property ownrship and (6) kill anybody who dares to worship God directly. See Numbers 18.
Copeland: Tithing is different from seed-faith gifts and offerings. The tithe is your 10 percent that God commands us to give—gifts and offerings are above and beyond it.
Kelly: Tithes were always only food from food producers inside Israel. Everybody else could only give freewill offerings. The NT church always only gave freewill offerings.
Copeland: Some people want to give “as the Lord leads them” instead of tithing—but the Spirit would never lead you against His Word. The Word says to tithe.
Kelly: Notice tha Copeland has no biblical validation for the church because the church was never commadned by the Spirit to tithe.
Copeland: Tithing is not only an Old Covenant command, but also a New Testament blessing and privilege. Hebrews 7:8 says, “Here men that die receive tithes. But there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.”
Kelly: Copeland ignores the context of Hebrews 7:5, 12, 18, 19. In 7:12 we are told that it was “necessary to change the law” of tithing first mentioned in 7:5. And 7:18 says that the “commandment going before” to tithe from 7:5 had been “annulled” because of its “weakness” and “unprofitableness”and because of the better new covenant of 7:19.
Copeland: In the Old Covenant, God’s people would place their tithe—the first fruits of their increase—in a basket, present it to the high priest, and say to him, “I profess this day unto the Lord thy God, that I am come unto the country which the Lord sware unto our fathers for to give us” (Deuteronomy 26:2-3). They spoke their redemption.
Kelly: Manipulation! Read Deuteronomy 26:1-4. It is speaking of the firstfrutis and not the tithe. And the “firstfruits” are so very small that they would fit into a small handbasket.
Copeland: According to Colossians 1:13, we have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son. As believers, we are living in the kingdom of God. We have entered into our inheritance in Jesus Christ and possess it in His Name. Jesus is the High Priest of the New Covenant.
Kelly: Copeland is mixing context to emphasize his false conclusion.
Copeland: When we take our tithes to our High Priest and speak our redemption, He receives them and then presents them to the Father (Hebrews 3:1, 7:8).
Kelly: This is classic Word of Faith out-of-context manipulation. There is no connection between Hebrews 3:1 and 7:8. Copeland says that our tithes must be with us when we approach God –sounds like a bribe. Are the poor to tithe and do without medication and essential food and shelter? Copeland thinks so.
Copeland: When we stand on our covenant with God and exercise our rights as tithers, we lay a foundation for success and abundance. Satan has no chance against us.
Kelly: We stand on the New Covenant which was sealed at Calvary and given to the Church after Calvary. It does not contain a single word commanding the church to tithe. NT giving is freewill, generous, sacrificial, joyful, not by commandment or percentage and motivated by love for God and lost souls. For many that means more than 10% and for many others means less than 10%. Satan has no chance with us even if we cannot afford to give 10%.
Copeland: Tithing the tithe rebukes the devourer!
Kelly: The context is that of food from Israel and the definition of food never changed for over 1500 years from Leviticus to Luke. Why?
Copeland: When we resist Satan in the Name of Jesus, God’s rebuke is in action.
Kelly: This is true whether or not one can afford to give 10%. The poor widow had nothing to give after giving her last cent.
Copeland: God told the Israelites their words were stout against Him. They were confessing lack and want. It is important to speak our redemption in order for the tithe to produce.
Kelly: This is Word of Faith gibberish which ignores the context.
Copeland: Where you place you tithe depends on where you are receiving your spiritual food. God says to bring the tithes into the storehouse. That is where the food is—where a pastor, an evangelist, an apostle or some other ministry is in operation.
Kelly: Read Nehemiah 10:37b-38. The ordinary people were commanded to bring their tithes to the 48 (later 13) Levitical cities where the Levites and priests received them together per Numbers 35 and Joshua 20 and 21. Also read Nehemiah 13:5. The Temple only had two small storerooms to hold the tithe for those rotating a week at a time in service. Malachi 3:10 makes no sense unless it only refers to the dishonest priests of 1:13-14. The ekklesia-church is not a storehouse and no buildings existed for over 200 years after Calvary.
Copeland: When you give, you are not giving to an individual, but for the furtherance of the gospel. Since your tithe is God’s money and since Jesus is the One who handles and receives it, you should always pray and let Him tell you where it should be put to work.
Kelly: Copeland, Hinn, the Crouches and all of the Word of Faith preachers will gladly receive your sacrifice and use it to buy airplanes and many properties in violation of Numbers 18.
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD