Copyright © December 10, 2012
Note. This is a modified version of Section VI, Chapter 9 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application.
As a result of earthly concerns for property, tax deductions, and the receipt of benefits from the state, most American churches have betrayed God and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the state. Furthermore, corporate 501(c)(3) churches are to some extent controlled by the state and are run as businesses to one degree or another: Trustees and corporate officers or officers or employees many times control everything about the church, including the preaching, and, yes, the pastor. However far the effects of becoming a corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization extend, such a church, like the Israelites who demanded a king, has committed a great wickedness by submitting to another head. Very few churches are New Testament churches. This wickedness grieves the Lord. Very few churches seek to remain pure. God said in His Word:
“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance; But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy, as I am holy. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pe. 1.14-16, 18-19).
The result of this betrayal is far reaching. The most obvious and damaging consequence is that the whole Word is not preached. Churches have gotten in such debt that pastors cannot preach the whole Word because they would offend some visible church members, especially some of the visible rich members. Incremental compromise after incremental compromise in preaching eventually adds up to outright heresy and apostasy (2 Pe. 2.1-3, 18: “[False prophets and teachers] shall bring in damnable heresies and [apostasy]. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they …. with feigned words make merchandise of you:… For when [these false teachers] speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.” See the whole second chapter of II Peter.).
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out or season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828) definition of “FABLE”: A feigned story or tale, intended to instruct or amuse; a softer term for a lie.).
Many of God’s children have been deceived. Peter wrote to believers, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Pe. 3.17).
I believe that when we say, “Bless God, by submitting myself to civil government, I can be more effective in winning souls and doing God’s work,” God says, “OK, let’s see how well you do—how many souls are saved in the long-run, and what is the fate of the church—when you do it your way in the flesh.”
The sincere but misguided Christian who asks, “What about all those souls that are being saved under the ministry of a particular incorporated 501(c)(3) church?” is promoting a practical religion that, in the long run, produces disastrous results. What are the results of God’s church submitting itself to the government? A few of a multitude of examples follow:
(1) Barna Research reports that just 4% of Americans have a biblical Worldview (See David Kupelian, The Marketing of Evil—How Radicals, Elitists and Pseudo Experts Sell us Corruption Disguised as Freedom, cited in Issues in Education, September Quarter, 2006).
(2) Marketers of evil have convinced church leaders that they are not to be leaders in society but to be content to hide behind the four walls of their church (Ibid.).
(3) We, yes even we in the church, have traded Western civilization for vain delusion, cheap thrills, and illogical doctrines (Ibid.).
(4) Marketing has changed our most basic beliefs—within our lifetime, much of what Americans universally abhorred has been packaged and sold to us as “enlightened” even “noble,” when previous generations regarded evil as self-destructive (Ibid).
(5) The percentage of “Protestant” churches (included in the survey were the Mormons, other non-christian groups, and some New Age devotees which were classified as “Protestant”) dropped from 63% to 52% from 1993 through 2002 and is probably now less than 50% (Albert Mohler Jr., “America’s Vanishing Protestant Majority—What does it Mean?” http://www.AlbertMohler.com, June 23, 2006, available at http://www.albertmohler.com/commentary_read.php?cdate=2006-06-23).
(6) Among mainline Protestant denominations [as well as among the Baptists and Independent Baptists, I might add], theological liberalism has eroded the entire system of Christian doctrine, leading to the evaporation of faith and the secularization of those churches. Once the churches have been thoroughly secularized, what value remains in church membership and denominational identification (Ibid.)?
(7) The Laodicean Christian is oblivious to those First Amendment prerequisites pioneered by his Philadelphia Forefathers—”Thou has a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” (Rev. 3.8c) (Dr. William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought?, p. 480).
(8) Pleasure has replaced persecution, revision has undermined the Word, and Ecumenical evangelism has denied the Name (Ibid.).
Foremost, God is not pleased with a church who prostitutes herself. The church who refuses to return to her first love will suffer the consequences.
Churches, because of the subjugation to civil government, have been confined to their four walls, preach what the state says they can preach, and do what the state tells them to do. Churches and pastors that submit to civil government are taught, controlled, and defined, at least to some degree, by civil government. Such churches are anemic (lacking force, vitality, or spirit) to a greater or lesser degree. They are no longer a spiritual body, but a “religious organization” which is a legal entity. Being dead spiritually, eventually their doors will close and they will either disappear or continue to exist as an arm of the state with little spiritual effect in the world. The dead will minister to the dead, and ultimately, the dead will have no one to minister to.