Copyright © April, 2010
All articles on this blog may be accessed from the following link:
II. Letter No. 1
III. My Reply to Letter No. 1
IV. Letter No. 2
V. My Reply to Letter No. 2
VI. Pastor’s Response to My Reply (Letter No. 2)
VII. Letter No. 3
VIII. My Reply to Letter No. 3
IX. Letter No. 4
X. My Reply to Letter No. 4
XI. Letter No. 5
XII. My Reply to Letter No. 5
XIV. Links to IRS Laws
This article quotes without editing more e-mails from pastors with their comments and questions concerning articles on this blog, and my replies to those e-mails. This is the third article on this blog with letters from pastors. The first article was What Pastors Are Saying in Response to this “Separation of Church and State Law” Blog (Click link to go to article; all colored titles, etc. are links which can be directly accessed by a click of your mouse.). The second article was Letters from Pastors in Response to this Separation of Church and State Blog and My Replies.
I will do future articles on other e-mails from pastors because these e-mails not only raise important questions which need to be addressed, but also give insights into the thoughts of pastors on issues such as church incorporation and 501(c)(3).
II. Letter No. 1 (Received April 13, 2010 in response to “How church
corporate/501c3 status dishonors the Christ-church love relationship”):
I am not sure who you are or how you found me but I am so thankful for your e-mails. You have kept our new little church from incorporating. I don’t know why I was sooo blind. Thank you for the eye opener.
III. My Reply to Letter No. 1:
Dear Mrs. ______________,
What an encouragement to hear from another of God’s “remnant” who still loves Him! May the Lord richly bless you with all spiritual blessings.
For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney
IV. Letter No. 2 (Received January 16, 2010 in response to the article
“An Abridged History of the First Amendment”):
Dear Mr Finney,
Some months ago I began to receive your emails.
I was wondering…how did you get our email address?? I am not at all opposed to the info simply wondering.
V. My Reply to Letter No. 2:
Dear Pastor __________________,
Your e-mail address is on a list of fundamental Baptist churches which I obtained by doing a Google search.
VI. Pastor’s Response to My Reply
Thanks for the reply. Do keep us on your email list. Have a great LORD’s Day tomorrow.
VII. Letter No. 3 (Received January 21, 2010):
Bro. Finney: I have recently gotten a couple of emails from you dealing with the legal affairs of the N.T. church. I wonder if I could bother you and ask a question: If a church is NOT a 501 (c)(3) organization, and is just simply a church, can the members use their contributions to the church as deductions when they file income taxes? I read some of your material, and couldn’t find anything specific about this. Thank you for your time and help.
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor __________, ______________ Church, __________, Michigan
VIII. My Reply to Letter No. 3:
Dear Pastor _______________,
Thanks for contacting me about your concern, which is a common concern of many churches, pastors, and Christians. Maybe you can give me a call. Since the answer is not to short, it would be easier to talk about this. I have written on this in Section VI of God Betrayed and also in Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities.
Please feel free to call me at your convenience. My office no. is 512-385-0761 and my cell number is 512-785-8445. I would be glad to discuss this with you. I will return your call if you get a voice mail and leave a phone no. where you can be reached. Of course, there is no charge.
For His Glory,
IX. Letter No. 4 (Received March 9, 2010 in response to article
“Does God and/or Civil Government Require Churches To Get 501(c)(3)?”)
Thanks for the information! I am involved in missions now after over 50 years in church related ministry. We just spent a few years in a missions church in the ‘bush’ of Alaska. Also involved with starting churches in the Dominican Republic. The second one will have its first service the last Sunday of this month. The first started one year ago this month has seen about 300 saved and the church family attendance is over 250 a month in all services and ministries. The missionaries we work with are Independent Fundamental from Costa Rica – doing a great ministry in these last days.
Again, thank you!
Dr. _____________, Pastor
X. My Reply to Letter No. 4:
Dear Dr. ______________,
Thanks for the e-mail! It was a great blessing to me. Missionaries are my heroes. Let me know if I can ever be of help in any way.
For His Glory,
Bro. Jerald Finney
XI. Letter No. 5 (Received April 12, 2010 in response to “Church law articles and resources from a believing lawyer who also loves the Lord”):
Thank you for the e-mail. How did you get my e-mail address? Also, I know a pastor who has been both incorporated and unincorporated. He says he can find no benefit to either one. My question to you is, where in the Bible is this issue made into such a big deal? Is it a fundamental of the faith? It seems that those who believe the way that you do about it can only talk about one thing as if that is all the Bible had to say about the matter. Perhaps I am just ignorant about the passages that deal with this, but I am not aware of any. Maybe you could show me. Anyway, let me know.
XII. My Reply to Letter No. 5:
Dear Pastor ________________,
Thank you for your kind e-mail. I humbly offer my response, in love for God and for you and all Christians and churches.
Your e-mail strikes at the heart of the issue, at the heart of our Lord. To completely answer your question would require that I write a book. I have already done this – in fact, I have written four books which address your concerns from a biblically based perspective – in other words, from the mind and heart of God as revealed in His Word.
I consider myself very fortunate to have had pastors who have taught me many great biblical principles, one of which was that the Lord has feelings and that He wants the love of His children. I have learned from teaching, from preaching, and from Holy Spirit led study of the Word of God that I can cause my Savior much grief by disobeying Him, that God’s Word reveals the mind and heart for God, and what actions on my part and the part of my church dishonor our Lord. God desires His children and His churches to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh, according to knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
All my pastors have, to the best of their understanding, honored the love relationship between Christ and His churches. Due to their direct confrontation with the issues, they came to understand the underlying principles. They understood that (1) Christ is married to His churches (Ro. 7.4; Ep. 5.22-33, etc.); and (2) that God takes this spiritual relationship with His churches very seriously: “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish…. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” (Ep. 5.25-27, 30). I explain this in depth in the article “The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls?”
The Word of God makes clear that God desires that His churches choose to honor their Husband, their Head, their Bridegroom. He gives them a choice because love requires choice. He wants their love. He wants His churches to choose to submit to His Headship in all matters. His churches are subject to Him, but He gives them free will so that they have the choice of either honoring or dishonoring Him; to love Him is to honor Him and love requires choices as to action. In other words, love is an act of the will. I Corinthians 13 explains this completely.
Once one understands the biblical principles concerning church, government, and separation of church and state, one can compare facts about incorporation to the biblical principles to determine whether incorporation of churches violates biblical principles, whether God is grieved should a church incorporate. I have done that in my books, blog articles, and audio teachings (all of which are accessible on the “Books,” “Radio Broadcast,” and “Blog” pages of churchandstatelaw.com).
I believe that the issue is fundamental for many reasons which I get into in my resources. If one does not understand the biblical doctrine of the church, government, and separation of church and state, he is not proceeding in the Spirit according to knowledge, wisdom, and understanding as to those matters. He is not equipped to fight the spiritual warfare against powers and principalities, etc., that God enlisted us in (see, e.g., 2 Ti, 2.3-4; Ep. 6.10-18, etc.).
There is a great spiritual benefit to obeying God in the organization and operation of a church. Of course, incorporation and 501c3 is only one biblical matter for a church to consider as she seeks to please our Lord. Churches and Christians are to strive to be subject to our Lord in every thing. I believe many churches have a form of godliness, but deny the power of God. I believe that this state of affairs has come about because of heresy and apostasy within our churches. Uniting church and state through incorporation, 501c3, or any other means is the result of a lack of knowledge is some cases. In others, such union is the product of heresy and/or apostasy.
One can see the consequences by comparing the operation and organization of a New Testament church as compared to that of a state incorporated 501c3 church. Again, I have done this in many of my books, articles, and audio teachings.
I hope this begins to answer your questions. By the way, I got your e-mail address from a list of Baptist churches.
For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney
My conclusions from reading and responding to these and other e-mails which have been quoted along with my replies in other articles and that will be in future articles, as I believe you will agree, is that:
“the understanding of the biblical principles, history, law, and facts among pastors varies widely. Some pastors are like secularists in that they have no spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and understanding and refuse to (and maybe cannot) look at the issues with an open mind. Some rely on their opinions as opposed to the Word of God as the basis for what they believe. Many take Scriptural verses completely out of context to support their erroneous views. Others are eager to please the Lord, and seek to increase their knowledge about these preeminent matters. Some already have some degree of understanding, greater or lesser, about these issues. Some are already practicing biblical principles in the area of church and state.”
XIV. Links to Internal Revenue Code Laws
You can read portions of the following Internal Revenue Code laws which pertain to churches and pastors by going to the following site: “Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself”; or you may read an entire law online by clicking the following links:
1. § 501(c)(3). Exemption from tax on corporations, certain trusts, etc.
2. § 508. Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations
3. § 7611. Restrictions on church tax inquiries and examinations
4. § 1402. [Dealing with taxes on income of pastors]
5. § 107. Rental value of parsonages
6. § 102. Gifts and inheritances (Tithes and offerings are gifts and, therefore, according to the Internal Revenue Code § 102, not income)
7. § 2503. Taxable gifts
8. § 170. Charitable, etc., contributions and gifts
The Biblical Law Center helps churches to organize as New Testament churches completely out from under civil government and under God only. See churchandstatelaw.com for contact information for Jerald Finney, counsel for the Biblical Law Center. This is a ministry, not a business enterprise. Jerald Finney has made no profit at all in this endeavor of Christian love, but rather has expended much of his own money for God’s glory, in attempting to provide information and service for God’s churches.
All conclusions in this article are opinions of the author. Please do not attempt to act in the legal system if you are not a lawyer, even if you are a born-again Christian. Many questions and finer points of the law and the interpretation of the law cannot be properly understood by a simple facial reading of a civil law. For a born-again Christian to understand American law, litigation, and the legal system as well as spiritual matters within the legal system requires years of study and practice of law as well as years of study of Biblical principles, including study of the Biblical doctrines of government, church, and separation of church and state. You can always find a lawyer or Christian who will agree with the position that an American church should become incorporated and get 501(c)(3) status. Jerald Finney will discuss the matter, as time avails, with any such person, with confidence that his position is supported by God’s Word, history, and law. He is always willing, free of charge and with love, to support his belief that for a church to submit herself to civil government in any manner grieves our Lord and ultimately results in undesirable consequences. He does not have unlimited time to talk to individuals. However, he will teach or debate groups, and will point individuals to resources which fully explain his positions.
About Jerald Finney: The author is a Christian first and a lawyer second. He has no motive to mislead you. In fact, his motivation is to tell you the truth about this matter, and he guards himself against temptation on this and other issues by doing all he does at no charge. He does not seek riches. His motivation is his love for God first and for others second. His goal is the Glory of God. Jerald Finney has been saved since 1982. God called him to go to law school for His Glory. In obedience, Finney entered the University of Texas School of Law in 1990, was licensed and began to practice law, for the Glory of God, in November of 1993. To learn more about the author click the following link: About Jerald Finney.
For His Glory
Jerald Finney, BBA, JD
2 thoughts on “More Letters from Pastors in Response to this “Separation of Church and State Law” Blog and My Replies: April, 2010 posting”
I as a PK who has been heavily engaged in church ministry and evangelism for years and as someone who has made the legal practice his profession, I can understand both sides of this issue. I have read extensively on the non-incorporation side of things and find that many of the arguments show nothing more than a lack of understanding about what the law actually says and means. I have not read Mr. Finney’s work and perhaps I would find it better researched.
In a court of law, especially in federal court you are expected to provide a citation with every conclusion of fact or law your present. This ultimately means that nearly every sentence has a supporting citation behind it (I am in the middle of writing a memorandum brief in support of a motion for summary judgment for federal court right now). When I get a chance to review Mr. Finney’s work, one of the first things I will check is whether he has provided sufficient citations for his conclusions of law. Anyone can get up and say anything they want about how a court will decided a certain issue, but I guarantee you that when it comes time to cross that bridge if you can’t cite legal support for your position, then you will lose in court no matter how nice Mr. Finney’s presentation sounds. Let me reiterate that I have not yet read his work for myself.
That being said, I cringe a little whenever I hear someone say anything for or against “incorporating a church” because I don’t really think that is possible. When you incorporate your business what you are really saying is, “I am creating a corporation that has the name of my business, and in fact is my business.” A New Testament church is an assembly of believers (simplified definition). If your assembly of believers creates a corporation and even gives it the same name as your church, you have not incorporated your church. Your church is still the assembly of believers. Rather your assembly has created a separate corporate entity which presumably holds your property and assets. If the government come along and somehow eliminates the corporate entity you created, your church will still be there just as before (assuming you have a stalwart assembly of believers who will continue to gather despite government oppression). If corporate entities are utilized, I think they are best viewed in this light. It is unfortunate, in my mind, that the corporate identity and the church have become almost completely overlapping. A good solution for this is to rename your corporation as “CBC Ministries” (depending on the initials of your church) or something like that. This helps people see that the church controls the corporation, not the corporation the church.
My church has a corporate entity that holds the property. We are very active in the community including in political activities. We have are involved in lots of protest against abortion, sodomy, etc. in addition to attempting to change local ordinances to eliminate obscene billboards (besides the door knocking, street evangelism, etc). We have had no trouble from governmental authority. All that being said, I recognize that there are some issues with the corporate status of churches.
Dear Pastor Brown,
Thanks for your comment.
My book, God Betrayed, is totally backed up by comprehensive citations. My biblical assertions are backed up by cited Scripture. My legal citations can be easily checked out by anyone who understands how to do legal research. My cites from IRS publications are easily accessed through Google. For example, one can check quotes from IRS Publication 1828 by simply Googling IRS Publication 1828 and clicking the cites which appear. As a soldier of the Lord first and a lawyer second, I know the importance of both identifying truth and also backing up what one says.
The Biblical Law Center has helped many churches to organize as a spiritual, as opposed to legal, entities; some of those churches have been operating in line with biblical principle for many years, and the Biblical Law Center is at this moment helping several churches to reorder their affairs according to the principles in the Word of God. Those churches are operating right now, above ground, in the United States. I explain why they can do so in America in certain of my books, articles and audio teachings. However, churches need the help of those with special knowledge and skills to do this, even though they may get a basic understanding from my teachings. I note that I have never made any profit from my work. I do not personally charge for any of the services that I render in the area of church and state law.
The first question for one who loves the Lord is whether incorporation violates biblical principle and grieves our Lord – the answer, “yes,” is very definite and clear to one who rightly divides the “Word of Truth.” I cover this in my books, audio teachings, and articles. The testimony and experience of any state church, such as an incorporated church, does not alter the fact that such a “church” is out of the perfect will of God.
As true Holy Spirit led discernment – based upon knowledge of both God’s Word and facts about legal matters and history – shows, this lack of love for our Lord by the state church has consequences, sooner or later, for individuals, families, churches, and nations. Those in state churches cannot see this either because they are spiritually blind, ignorant, willfully ignorant, or just proceeding in their presumptious sin for fleshly reason(s). This is not to discount the fact that some of those churches, being in the permissive will of God, have a good and sincere pastor, are following His principles in many areas and are being blessed to one degree or another. However, those churches are heretical as to the biblical principle of separation of church and state and have taken the first step toward apostasy.
Your paragraph on incorporation, business, and the church being separate from the corporation is a lame attempt to justify the incorporation of a church. I take it that your are saying that when a church incorporates, there is now both a church and a business. In fact, the church has taken on an illicit lover along side the marriage relationship that church has with Christ. By incorporating, a church says,
“The Lord and His defintions, rules, goals and procedures laid down for His wife and bride in His Word are not sufficient. This church wants the assistance of someone besides the Lord because His provisions and rules are sufficient only so far as they are correct and only so far as far as they go.”
Such a church as a form of godliness, but denies the power of God. She has committed spiritual adultery. That “church” or “business” must now elect officers, have business meetings, submit reports to the state, and go by all the other secular (satanic) procedures required by the new sovereign. All these new activities as required by the sovereign state embroil a church in earthly requirmements and procedures which directly conflict with biblical mandate.
My writings and audio teachings will prove that my position is the biblical position to one who believes what the Bible says and is willing to do a Holy Spirit led study of the biblical principles, history, and law. A Spirit filled believer who has examined the relevant biblical principles and applied them to the facts of incorporation (and other means available for a church to become a legal entity, as well as 501(c)(3)) will understand this. I know there are some people out there who are right about the conclusion that incorporation, etc. for churches is wrong; but at the same time do not present true biblical, legal, and historical arguments that will withstand scrutiny. There are also many out there who have reached the wrong conclusion – that incorporation of churches is acceptable to God – and they cannot back up what they say based upon correct biblical interpretation and application thereof to reality.
I have some questions: (1) Are you saved and if so what is your testimony? (2) What is a PK? (3) Do you believe the Bible says what it means? (4) Are you a lawyer, and, if so, what law school did you attend?
My testimony along with all my credentials, beliefs, teaching and so forth are online for anyone to examine. I also understand both sides of the issue. I clearly understand that one side is contrary to the principles of God and the other honors God and His principles. I have a standard to compare each side to – the Word of God. I present the same challenge to everyone who has questions, whether sincerely seeking truth or not – show me where I am wrong biblically, legally, historically or in any other way and I will publically repent of my error.
For His Glory,
Jerald Finney, believer, BBA, JD