When a church depends on a man made law, other than the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which is a statement of the Bible principle of separation of church and state, she has become a legal entity. En1. This grieves our Lord. En2.
“§ 508. Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations. “(a) New organizations must notify secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status. “(c) Exceptions. “(1) Mandatory exceptions. Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to— “(A) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches” (26 U.S.C. § 508). [Emphasis mine.]
By relying on §508(c)(1)(A) or 501(c)(3), a church has chosen to put herself under the authority of a law made by Congress which establishes a religion and denies the free exercise of religion. She is now either under civil government and God or under civil government only. By choosing to place herself under the rules that come with those laws, the church has become a legal entity, abandoned her non-taxable status as a First Amendment church, and put herself under the Fourteenth Amendment. She has agreed that, should the party she has contracted with, the IRS, a civil government agency, charge that she has violated the rules that come with 501c3 and 508, her only recourse is to comply with the order or go to her chosen authority, federal court, to contest the government order. You see, she now is a legal entity, and all disagreements between the parties to the agreement, the church and the government, must be decided by her authority, the courts of the civil government. A church who places an authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ over her has grieved our Lord by violating New Testament commandment to churches.
Permit me to explain:
The First Amendment is a statement of the biblical principle of separation of church and state . When a church relies on the First Amendment, they are relying on a biblical principle. Should the biblical principle be abused or ignored by the civil government, so be it—a church should then rely and act only on the biblical principle. See En3 for links to resources which explain the First Amendment.
To rely on §508(c)(1)(A) (or 501c3, of course) contradicts the First Amendment. The First Amendment religion clause states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Obviously, §508(c)(1)(A) is a law made by Congress which regards an establishment of religion; §508(c)(1)(A) also prevents the free exercise of religion because a church which claims §508(c)(1)(A) status thereby submits themselves to some control by the federal government in that the church becomes subject to the rules that come with IRC 501(c)(3) status. §508(c)(1)(A) does not state that the First Amendment forbids Congress from making any law in violation of the First Amendment; and that, therefore, a church is non-taxable. §508(c)(1)(A) is a law made by Congress which states that Congress, by law, is declaring an exemption for churches. Thus, by a clear reading of the First Amendment, §508(c)(1)(A) is clearly contradicts the First Amendment.
The correct position which is held by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) is that a 508 church has submitted herself to the same rules that come with 501(c)(3) regulation and given up her First Amendment status. The IRS makes this position clear.
A New Testament church (a church organized according to the principles of the New Testament), among other things, receives no income, has no employees or staff, and runs no businesses (daycare, “Christian” schools, “Bible” colleges, seminaries, cafes, etc.). Church members of a New Testament Church give their tithes and offerings to God, not to a religious organization, for use in ways consistent with New Testament teaching. All monies given to God are disbursed in accordance to the guidelines of the New Testament, and no money is left over. Let us use our common sense, if not our biblical sense: Even a business which makes no profit pays no taxes. A church which has no income cannot be taxed.
In conclusion, if a church does not apply for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status or claim §508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status, and if she is organized as a New Testament church, the First Amendment requires the federal and state government to recognize the non-taxable status of that church. No matter what the civil government claims, that church cannot be taxed anyway because she has no income; she gives her tithes, offerings, and gifts to God, not to a government created religious organization. See En4 for resources which more thoroughly explain church 501(c)(3) and 508 status.
“Christian” revisionists never tell the true history of America. They never tell you about, for example, Obadiah Holmes, who was viciously beaten by the Puritans, or about the four Quakers who were hanged for returning to Massachusetts after being banned for their religious views, or about the many Baptists whose properties were taken by the establishment, etc.
“Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.” Isaiah 28.14-18.
This article was inspired by The church that birthed America which was published in World Magazine and linked to on sermonaudio.com. World Magazine falsely claims that it reports “the news from a Christian worldview—interpreting world events under the reality of the Christian faith.” The magazine actually is a prime example of publishers, for the masses, of “Christian” revisionism. The church that birthed America is another offering, in a continuing stream of deceit, which misleads well-meaning “Christians” in the arena of spiritual warfare. This type of biased and misleading information is constantly served from many directions to mislead “Christians” in America.
The church that birthed America is a short article distributed as propaganda to those “Christians” who do not have time to study CRC (Catholic/Reformed/Calvinists) historical and theological deceit. CRC are strangers and foreigners to truth, fellowcitizens with pseudo-saints, of the household of the god of this world. They are built on the foundation of the Pope and clergy, Augustine being the chief corner stone; in whom their building fitly framed together groweth into an unholy temple, built together an habitation of lies. Prominent CRC include constitutional scholars like Edward S. Corwin,[i] and theologians, pastors and writers such as R.J. Rushdooney, Francis Schaeffer, Gary DeMar, Gary North, Charles Stanley, D. James Kennedy, David Barton, Roger Federrer and many others who tirelessly carry the torch of Christian Revisionism directly to mainline “Christians” in America—soldiers on the battlefield, led by the deceivers, to establish “a city set on a hill” (See Matthew 5.14).
The problem is that CRC walks in darkness, rather than light. “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3.20). That is why they lie about history. True history reveals that they, led by the theology of Augustine and continued by Calvin, Luther, Knox, the Church of England, and other Protestants, have tortured and killed tens of millions of those they labeled to be “heretics.” A study of their theology reveals that they will again kill heretics and those who do not honor, at least outwardly, all Ten of the Commandments and much of the Levitical law if and when they again have power to do so. Secular scholars and writers know this and write about it. See List of Scholarly Resources Which Explain and Comprehensively Document the True History of Religious Freedom in Americafor verification. Since historic fact can be verified, these CRC “Christians” and their followers, through their lies which they refuse to repent of, cause the world to blaspheme the name of Christ.
Many believers on that lowest level, myself included for a long time, go out from their “churches” and huddle together in the Republican Party seeking to turn America around. They place their hopes, both spiritual and earthly, in politics. Without their support, the whole pyramid of lies would topple. The bottom dwellers idolize and praise the men above them. They follow “Christian” revisionist lies not only in the political arena but also into their churches and church schools through, for example, the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum.
I left that darkness some thirteen years ago when the Lord shined the light of truth into the darkness of the Christian historic and theological revisionism maze I was in. For many years, I had done no independent study. After all, those I depended upon were Christians, were they not? They would not lie, especially about historic fact which can be checked by those who have the time to do so, would they? They have no motive to lie, do they? I found that I had not been correctly answering all these questions.
I had one vital question that none of the “Christian” historical literature I read could answer; and I searched far and wide for many years. Finally, a secular book by a law professor[ii] headed me in the right direction. In reading it, I saw referenced, in the endnotes, works by men like Isaac Backus, Roger Williams, Dr. John Clark, and many others who were influential in a colonial spiritual warfare. Then I came across a Baptist history book with its invaluable bibliography.[iii] I started looking for, buying, and reading the old books cited in those works as well as additional writings cited in the books I continued to study. I kept finding more sources and reading as many as I could. More and more facts I had never been informed of kept coming to my attention. I discovered motives, theological understandings, historical facts, Bible truths which CRC had hidden from me and untold numbers of other Christians. I discovered why CRC lies. CRC theologian R.J. Rushdooney explained the reason, “It is alright to lie to those who have no right to know the truth.”
From Augustine to this very day, CRC have never changed their tactics. Of course, they can no longer kill the dissenters, but that is not their fault. Baptists in the colonies understood how CRC operate. As Isaac Backus[iv] noted, concerning the revisionism and lies of the leaders of the established churches in the American colonies:
“[I] appeal to the conscience of every reader, whether he can find three worse things on earth, in the management of controversy, than, first, to secretly take the point disputed for truth without any proof; then, secondly, blending that error with known truths, to make artful addresses to the affections and passions of the audience, to prejudice their minds, before they hear a word that the respondent has to say; and thirdly, if the respondent refuses to yield to such management, then to call in the secular arm to complete the argument?”[v]
Because of the never ending CRC campaign of deceit which always uses these tactics, very few Christians have ever heard the undeniable fact that the Puritans came to America for religious freedom for themselves only; of the Puritan and Anglican establishments in the American colonies; the persecutions of dissenters by the establishments; colonial leaders of the dissent, their writings and monumental achievements—men such as Roger Williams,[vi] Dr. John Clarke, Obadiah Holmes,[vii] Shubal Stearnes, Daniel Marshall, Isaac Backus, and John Leland;[viii] the many dissenters in the colonies persecuted by the CRC; the written debates between Roger Williams and the Puritan John Cotton (writings which are still available); the very insightful and accurate religious histories and writings of men such as Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, and Isaac Backus which exposed the lies and persecutions of the Puritans; the Baptist preachers in Virginia who were persecuted for preaching outside the authority of the established Anglican church; the four Quakers hanged by the Puritans in the late 1650s and early 1660s because they returned to the colony after being banished as “heretics” by the established church (after which England ordered Massachusetts to send any alleged “heretics” to England for trial); the actual positions of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison on the issue of separation of church and state; and many more undeniable facts which the CRC do not wish you to know.
Examined in the light of truth, The church that birthed America would be laughable if not for the fact that untold numbers of “Christians” actually believe it. Here is a brief look at the article in light of truth. The Anglicans settled Jamestown in 1607, so, the Pilgrims were not even the first to land in America. The settlers of Jamestown set up an Anglican establishment.
The church that birthed America, does give some truth about the story of the Pilgrims. Truth is fine with CRC when it contributes to the cause. But then, the revisionism to lies begins. The article states: “As we recite our own litany this Thanksgiving, our thoughts will turn to the prosperous nation that grew from Bradford’s ‘desolate wilderness.’” Contrast that statement with some solid facts, some history between their landing in Plymouth and the establishing of the United States of America with the adoption of the United States Constitution in 1790?
The Pilgrims arrived in 1630 and are much admired by Americans for the hardships they endured. As a matter of human compassion, the Pilgrims were hospitable to all; and, at first, grudgingly tolerated those of other creeds. However, they gradually began to close their doors to those of other creeds. “Plymouth was a Church-State ruled by a governor and a small and highly select theological aristocracy, a Church-State with various grades of citizenship and non-citizenship.”[ix] By 1651 the government of Plymouth colony was enforcing the laws of Congregationalist Massachusetts. “By the time Plymouth was united with Massachusetts in 1691 all major differences between the two had disappeared.”[x]
The Puritans, unlike the Pilgrims who wanted to separate from the Church of England, arrived in 1629 and wanted to purify the Church from within. “The State, in their view, had the duty to maintain the true Church; but the State was in every way subordinate to the Church.”[xi] Having suffered long for conscience sake, they came for religious freedom, for themselves only. “They believed [in] the doctrine of John Calvin, with some important modifications, in the church-state ruled on theocratic principles, and in full government regulation of economic life.”[xii] Although they differed from the Church of England and others on some doctrines, “[t]he Puritans brought 2 principles with them from their native country, in which they did not differ from others; which are, that natural birth, and the doings of men, can bring children into the Covenant of Grace; and, that it is right to enforce & support their own sentiments about religion with the magistrate’s sword.”[xiii]
The church that birthed America then connects the Pilgrims and others sent later from English Reformed Church in Amsterdam to the founding of churches and two Great Awakenings, global evangelism, and great missionary movements. To fully explain how totally fabricated this is cannot be done in this short article. Let us just consider one matter: the two Great Awakenings. In America at least, the Puritans and Pilgrims had nothing to do with them, other than trying to stamp out the fires caused by the First Great Awakening.
Here are a few facts concerning the First Great Awakening:
“George Whitefield’s first visit to New England during the Great Awakening around 1740 brought revival. Whitefield preached in buildings owned by churches, out of doors (many times church buildings could not contain the crowds seeking to hear him), and at colleges such as Yale. As a result of Whitefield’s preaching, in a brief six weeks period, the religious climate of New England was changed. The churches experienced unprecedented growth. Entire communities flocked to hear the gospel, and hundreds were converted in single localities….
“As a result of the offenses of the Great Awakening, Whitefield was not warmly received by many of the establishment when he returned to New England in 1744. In fact, he faced a confused situation. Although multitudes supported him and continued to attend his revival meetings, a formidable body of opposition to him and his methods had developed in his absence of four years. The faculty of Harvard College condemned Whitefield, the Connecticut legislature declared that no minister should preach in the parish of another without the incumbent’s consent, and later the General Court forbade all itinerant preaching with penalty of loss of right to collect one’s legal salary and imprisonment. He found few pulpits open to him, and a barrage of declarations and testimonies was aimed at him. Most of the ministers of the established churches, as well as the faculties of Yale and Harvard Colleges were opposed to him. Nonetheless, he continued to preach, the revival continued, and many, including Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall, two men who were to become Baptists and chief instruments for carrying the Great Awakening to the South, were converted as a result of being strongly moved by Whitefield.[xiv]
The church that birthed America then makes some more statements which do not seem to be connected to the rest of the article and then concludes, “[America] has been used to bless the whole world. Let’s pause to consider that blessing this Thanksgiving along with the bounty before us. A blessing we pilgrims again make take to other desolate wildernesses of the world.” ??????
In conclusion, may I inquire, “Is the author 8 years old?” Why would anyone give any serious consideration to this infantile hogwash? “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Ro. 13.12).
[i] Edward S. Corwin is the foremost American constitutional scholar of the twentieth century. Even so, he was guilty of using the tactics described by Isaac Backus. Why? Corwin was born in Plymouth, Michigan on January 19, 1878. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in 1900; and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1905. He was invited to join the faculty of Princeton University by Woodrow Wilson in 1905. In 1908 he was appointed the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence. He authored many books on United States constitutional law, and he remained at Princeton until he retired in 1946. He fought against separation of church and state. He died on April 23, 1963 and was buried in Princeton Cemetery. Princeton University. New Light Presbyterians founded the College of New Jersey in 1746 in order to train ministers. Following the untimely deaths of Princeton’s first five presidents, John Witherspoon became president in 1768 and remained in that office until his death in 1794.
[ii] McGarvie, Mark Douglas. One Nation Under Law: America’s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State. DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005.
[iii] Lumpkin, William L. Baptist History in the South. Shelbyville, Tennessee: Bible and Literature Missionary Foundation.
[iv] Isaac Backus was born in Connecticut in 1723/24, a time when those dissenting from the views of the established church were persecuted. He withdrew from the established Congregational church, became a Separate, and later a Baptist. As a Separate and later a Baptist, he was persecuted and witnessed, researched, and wrote about the persecutions going on in New England. He was a leader in the fight for religious liberty in America. For more information on Isaac Backus see, e.g., William G. McLoughlin, Isaac Backus and the American Piestic Tradition (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1967); Isaac Backus on Church, State, and Calvinism, Pamphlets, 1754-1789, Edited by William G. McLoughlin (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1968); Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians Called Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, Previously Published by Backus Historical Society, 1871).
Isaac Backus and others such as Roger Williams, and John Clarke led the fight against the establishment of the church in the early history of America, and to their efforts we owe the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which guarantees religious liberty.
[v] Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, p. 150. This comment followed and preceded illustrations of how those in favor of church/state marriage, infant baptism, etc. advance their cause. On pp. 151-152, Mr. Backus illustrated how those in favor of infant baptism argued their position, pointing out the fallacies of their arguments. Their tactics have not changed, although in America, due to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, they no longer can call upon civil government to enforce their beliefs and persecute dissenters.
[vi] Roger Williams was the founder of Rhode Island, the first government in history with complete freedom of conscience. Due to the efforts of Mr. Williams, Dr. John Clarke, and others who followed America has the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which gives freedom of conscience.
Roger Williams understood the importance of truth. He wrote a dialogue between truth and peace in which we find these words:
“Peace. Dear truth, I know thy birth, thy nature, thy delight. They that know thee will prize thee far above themselves and lives, and sell themselves to buy thee. Well spake that famous Elizabeth to her famous attorney, Sir Edward Coke; ‘Mr. Attorney, go on as thou hast begun, and still plead, not pro Domina Regina, but pro Domina Veritate.’ “Truth. It is true, my crown is high; my scepter is strong to break down strongest holds, to throw down highest crowns of all that plead, though but in thought, against me. Some few there are, but oh! how few are valiant for the truth, and dare to plead my cause, as my witnesses in sackcloth, Rev. xi. ; while all men’s tongues are bent like bows to shoot out lying words against me? “Peace. Oh! how could I spend eternal days and endless dates at thy holy feet, in listening to the precious oracles of thy mouth! All the words of thy mouth art truth, and there is no iniquity in them. thy lips drop as the honey-comb. But oh! since we must part anon, let us, as thou saidst, improve our minutes, and according as thou promisedest, revive me with thy words, which are sweeter than the honey and the honey-comb.”
Honest historians tell his story. Christian revisionists do not. Williams exposed the Puritans for what they were, both theologically and in practice. He published a book in 1644 which effectively destroyed Puritan theology and exposed the persecutions of those the Puritans in the New World labeled to be “heretics.”
[vii] When Dr. John Clarke and two friends went to Massachusetts they were persecuted. In 1651, he, Obadiah Holmes, and John Crandal went to visit a friend in Boston. They were on “an errand of mercy and had traveled all the way from their church in Newport to visit one of their aging and blind members, William Witter.” They stayed over, and held a service on Sunday. During that service, they were arrested and jailed. Before they were brought to trial, they were forced to attend a Congregational Puritan religious meeting. There, they refused to remove their hats, and Dr. Clarke stood and explained why they declared their dissent from them. They were charged with denying infant baptism, holding a public worship, administering the Lord’s Supper to an excommunicated person, to another under admonition, proselytizing the Baptist way and rebaptizing such converts, and failing to post security or bail and other ecclesiastical infractions. He asked for a public debate on his religious views, which the Puritans avoided. “Clarke said they were examined in the morning of July 31 and sentenced that afternoon without producing any accuser or witness against them,” and that “Governor John Endicott even insulted the accused and denounced them as ‘trash.’”[vii] Dr. Clarke was “fined twenty pounds or to be well whipped;” Mr. Crandal was fined five pounds, only for being with the others; and Mr. Holmes was held in prison, where sentence of a fine of thirty pounds or to be well whipped was entered. A friend paid Mr. Clarke’s fine. Mr. Clarke and Mr. Crandal were released.
Mr. Holmes was beaten mercilessly. His infractions were denying infant baptism, proclaiming that the church was not according to the gospel of Jesus Christ, receiving the sacrament while excommunicated by the church, and other spiritual infractions. Mr. Holmes refused to pay his fine, prepared for the whipping by “communicat[ing] with [his] God, commit[ting] himself to him, and beg[ging] strength from him.” Holmes was confined over two months before his whipping. He related the experience of being whipped for the Lord as follows, in part:
“And as the man began to lay the strokes upon my back, I said to the people, though my flesh should fail, and my spirit should fail, yet my God would not fail. So it please the Lord to come in, and so to fill my heart and tongue as a vessel full, and with an audible voice I broke forth praying unto the Lord not to lay this sin to their charge; and telling the people, that now I found he did not fail me, and therefore now I should trust him forever who failed me not; for in truth, as the strokes fell upon me, I had such a spiritual manifestation of God’s presence as the like thereof I never had nor felt, nor can with fleshly tongue express; and the outward pain was so removed from me, that indeed I am not able to declare it to you, it was so easy to me, that I could well bear it, yea, and in a manner felt it not although it was grievous as the spectators said, the man striking with all his strength (yea spitting in [on] his hand three times as many affirmed) with a three-corded whip, giving me therewith thirty strokes. When he had loosed me from the post, having joyfulness in my heart, and cheerfulness in my countenance, as the spectators observed, I told the magistrates, You have struck me as with roses; and said moreover, Although the Lord hath made it easy to me, yet I pray God it may not be laid to your charge.”
Mr. Holmes “could take no rest but as he lay upon his knees and elbows, not being able to suffer any part of his body to touch the bed whereupon he lay.” Two men who shook Mr. Holmes’ hand after the beating were, without trial and without being informed of any written law they had broken, sentenced to a fine of forty shillings or to be whipped. Although they refused to pay the fines, others paid their fines and they were released.
[xiii] Backus, A History of New England, Volume 1, pp. 34-35.
[xiv] Jerald Finney, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Austin, Tx.: Kerygma Publishing Co., 2008), pp. xv-xvi; see pp. 249-250, 254, 261, and 265 for more on the First Great Awakening. (The quotes omit the footnotes with authorities. One can go to the book and find the authorities by clicking here to go to online PDF of this book.)
God desires His churches be a spiritual entities, not spiritual and legal entities: “Church” in this essay refers to God’s churches, New Testament churches, churches under Christ and Christ alone. A church is composed of spiritual beings, born again believers.
1 Peter 2:5 says, speaking to born again believers: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 2.19-22: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
In Ephesians 1.19-23 we learn that God set Christ “at his own right hand in heavenly places.” The suffix “ly” means “like” or “from,” and when added to a noun creates an adjective. So “heavenly” means like or from heaven. “Heavenly places” therefore means places like or from heaven. When a person is born again of the spirit, he becomes a new creature and the Holy Spirit indwells that person. See, e.g., 2 Corinthians 5.17, Ephesians 2.1-6.
God has put all things under Christ’s “feet and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22). Colossians 1:18: “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” His body is to walk on the earth, and be connected to Him. The body is to be connected to the Head. The New Testament makes clear that Christ desires that a church be spiritual, that all the church does be spiritual, that a church have only one head, a spiritual Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, a believer and a church are to be connected to Christ who is the head. A church is “his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all (23).” He made believers to “sit together in heavenlyplaces in Christ Jesus” while they walk on the earth as new creatures indwelt and led by the Holy Spirit, doing His work as instructed by the Word of God.
Again, Christ desires to be the only head of His churches. Ephesians 1:22 “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” Colossians 1:18 “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
The Bible has much more to say, but that is enough to establish Bible precept, which describes the church as a spiritual entity or body built by the Lord Jesus Christ, over whom Christ is to be the Head in all things. See, for example, Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12 for more on the spiritual and eternal organism or body which is the local church.
God allows churches a choice. A church can choose to be what God wants it to be, an eternal spiritual entity under God only; or a church can choose to be a temporal earthly entity such as a 501c3 corporation under both God and man or under man only.
Spiritual blessings follow obedience; curses follow disobedience even though a church under God and man, or under man only, may have some temporal earthly success for a time. In fact, many churches, especially mega-churches are very successful businesses posing as “churches,” under God.
The Bible clearly teaches that the unholy always corrupts the holy when the two are combined. Corruption is inevitable when church and state are intermixed. As history shows, the official corrupted “church,” which was married to and used the state to enforce many of its unholy ways, was vile to the core. The Reformers became especially aware of the corruption within the Roman “church.” The churches which arose out of the Reformation adopted many of the heresies of the Roman spiritual harlot which they rebelled against and discarded.
To quote a great Bible teacher: “The church that sets out to spiritualize the world will soon find that the world will secularize the church. When wheat and tares compromise, it is the wheat that suffers. Light and darkness, right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error are incompatibles, and when they compromise it is the light, the right, the good, and the truth that are damaged.” As Pastor Hank Thompson, has preached:
“Holy means set apart for God. You cannot bring that which is holy and unholy together without making the holy things unholy. Holy things combined with unholy things do not make the unholy holy. It always makes the holy unholy. Being around someone who is sick may make a well person sick. Being around a well person won’t make a sick person well. If you are grounded and touch the ground and a power line at the same time, you are cooked. If you try to touch God and touch the world, you will be corrupted.”
The Holy Bible, the basic source for all truth proclaims:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6.14-18).
Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16.13.)
History proves this. Union of church and state corrupted the civil government, the Roman “church” and the people, except for a remnant. It also corrupted the established Protestant churches and the nations which had established Protestant churches.
For a more thorough explanation of the doctrine of the church, see the resources in En 4.
 W. Graham Scroggie, born 1877, twelve times the Bible teacher at the famous Keswick, England conference, They Knew Their God, Vol. 5, 194 cited in The Berean Call, February 2006, p. 5, available at www.thebereancall.org. Separation is a Biblical principle that runs throughout scripture—Pastor Hank Thompson gave a tremendous sermon on “Separation” on Sunday evening, February 12, 2006.
It is not illegal for a church in America not to incorporate and a church does not have to be 501c3.
A church in America can choose to remain under the Lord Jesus Christ only. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding provisions in the constitutions of all 50 states make this clear. The First Amendment is a statement of America’s highest man made law and the a 1947 U.S. Supreme court case applied the establishment clause to the states. So the states are bound, not only by their own state constitutions, but also by the First Amendment. Of course, the federal government is bound by the First Amendment and is not subject to any state constitution. Incorporation is a matter of state law. 501c3 is a matter of federal law.
The First Amendment states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Preamble: We, the people of the state of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings and secure the same to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution.
Sec. 16. Freedom of conscience; no preference to be given to any religious establishment or mode of worship. The enumeration of rights in this constitution shall not deny or impair others retained by and inherent in the people. The right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience shall never be infringed; nor shall any man be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any religious or ecclesiastical ministry, against his consent; nor shall any control of or interference with the rights of conscience be permitted, or any preference be given by law to any religious establishment or mode of worship; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the state, nor shall any money be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of any religious societies or religious or theological seminaries.
The constitutions of the other states have similar provisions.
Below are some quotes from court cases, from the IRS Code, and from some other legal resources. You can go directly to these cases online by clicking the links attached to this article.
“Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force or influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or nonattendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups, and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between Church and State.“
“A valid trust need not be in writing. It can be created orally unless the language of the written conveyance excludes the existence of a trust. Sanderson v. Milligan,585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Linder v. Little,490 S.W.2d 717, 723 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1972); and Adrian v. Brown, 29 Tenn. App. 236, 243, 196 S.W.2d 118, 121 (1946). However, when a party seeks to establish an oral trust, it must do so by greater than a preponderance of the evidence. Sanderson v. Milligan, 585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Hunt v. Hunt, 169 Tenn. 1, 9, 80 S.W.2d 666, 669 (1935); and Browder v. Hite, 602 S.W.2d 489, 493 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1980).
“The existence of a trust requires proof of three elements: (1) a trustee who holds trust property and who is subject to the equitable duties to deal with it for the benefit of another, (2) a beneficiary to whom the trustee owes the equitable duties to deal with the trust property for his benefit, and (3) identifiable trust property. See G.G. Bogert & G.T. Bogert, The Law of Trusts and Trustees 1, at 6 (rev. 2d ed. 1984) and Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 2 comment h (1957). We find that the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center has proved the existence of each of these elements by clear and convincing evidence.” [p. 333].
“PLEASE ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS AND SUPPLY THE REQUIRED SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION: (1) Quitclaim or warranty deed for real property; (2) Corporate Charter & Bylaws or if unincorporated, a copy of any other document that explains the organization’s governing structure; (3) Financial information for the last fiscal year (i.e., Form 990 if required by IRS, or income/expense statement/budget); (4) Photograph of property; (5) Personal property schedule/list for personal property only applications.”
WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 166 Wis.2d 442 (1992), 480 N.W.2d 16, Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs October 4, 1991.Decided February 17, 1992. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin reviewed the evidence and concluded that “The evidence indicates that Basic Bible was established to evade taxation. Basic Bible failed to meet its burden of proving that it is a “church” or “religious association” under [Wisconsin law]. The court held that Basic Bible was not property tax exempt.” The fact that the church held “in trust” the property for which a property tax exemption was sought was not a factor in the decision.The Court concluded that incorporation and 501(c)(3) status is not a prerequisite for church property tax exemption; and, again, made clear that the fact that the church held the property “in trust” did not disqualify the church from property tax exemption.
Of course, I could give you many other opinions from state and federal courts that make clear that a church does not have to incorporate.
Now let’s briefly look at Internal Revenue Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508. A church may apply for 501c3 or claim 508 tax exempt status. See Endnote for links to more resources which explain 501c3 and 508.
The IRS knows the 1st A and the above laws. They know churches do not have to incorporate or get 501c3 or 508 status. The First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions alone make clear that a church does not have to incorporate or get 501c3. The courts know this. The IRS knows the law. The IRS, in Publication 1828, says:
“Churches and religious organizations may be legally organized in a variety of ways under state law, such as unincorporated associations, nonprofit corporations, corporations sole and charitable trusts.”
[Notice that these are not the only way a church can organize—OPBC uses a way that has been used by churches from time immemorial. Court cases establish that churches were using the concept of the simple trust in the 1800s. This manner of organization was the way churches organized in the New Testament.]
“Although there is no requirement to do so, many churches seek recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS because this recognition assures church leaders, members and contributors that the church is recognized as exempt and qualifies for related tax benefits.”
Old Paths Baptist Church is not an incorporation not does it have 501c3 status. I have helped many other churches stay out of or get out of corporate 501c3 status. We are not hiding this, we are publishing it to the world. Why? Because what we are telling you is the truth and because you can please God by keeping your church connected to her God-ordained Head without persecution.
The law, the First Amendment and state constitutional provisions, the courts, the IRS all know these things. Yet, some pastors don’t know it. They say, “We must obey man’s law and get incorporated and get 501c3.” “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
The Lord and the state of incorporation are the heads of an incorporated church.
The state of incorporation is the head of the incorporated church.
Permit me to explain.
Both possible scenarios occur when churches do not understand the Bible doctrine of the church to one degree or another. They do not understand God’s eternal, spiritual precepts as stated in the New Testament nor do they understand man’s temporal earthly law. Let me give a list of some things that corporate churches do not understand and do not want to understand. For a comprehensive examination, see the resource below. Among other things, they do not understand:
that Christ loves the church and gave Himself for it;
that he wishes to be the only builder of His churches;
that He wishes to empower His churches without help from anyone to include civil government;
that Christ desires to be the only Head of His churches;
that He is jealous of His churches;
that He desires His churches to be eternal spiritual entities only;
how a church can walk on earth being connected to a heavenly Head only;
that the Holy Spirit lives in believers thereby making it possible for believers and churches to walk in the spirit only (Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”);
that man creates corporations;
that God the Son and He only establishes His churches;
that the only head of a New Testament church is the Lord Jesus Christ;
that the sovereign of the corporation is the state;
that corporations are earthly temporal organizations whereas God desires churches to be eternal spiritual bodies or organisms;
that when one combines the eternal with the temporary, the eternal is polluted;
that incorporation, being the product of heresy, is a big step toward apostasy;
that corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of man made law;
that a corporation is an artificial person or legal entity created by or under the authority of the laws of the state;
that no corporation can exist without the consent or grant of the sovereign, since the corporation is a creature of the state and derives its powers by legislative grant;
that a corporate charter is a contract that requires that the controlling sovereign party, the civil government, be appealed to though government agency and the courts for resolution of conflicts;
that many contractual controversies are thereby created whereby the church can sue the state, the members can sue other members, the members can sue the church and the church can sue the members;
the corporate church agrees to set us extra-biblical offices (CEO, secretary, etc.) to handle many church affairs;
that “… whenever there is an incorporated church, there are two entities—the one, the church as such, not owing its ecclesiastical or spiritual existence to the civil law, and the other, the legal corporation—each separate, although closely allied. The former is purely voluntary and is not a corporation or a quasi corporation;”
that a corporate church, at best, is a two-headed monster, partially under the Lord Jesus Christ and partially under the civil government of incorporation.
Now, first let us consider the first scenario – that is, the Lord and the state are the heads of the church. This happens when an incorporated church complies with some of the Lord’s New Testament commandments for churches. Such a church operates in God’s permissive will, not His perfect will. They are like Israel. God established Israel to be under God only; God dealt directly with them as they pursued their earthly God-given goals, work, and religious activities.
Israel rejected the theocracy and demanded a king (1 Samuel 8). God told them He would nonetheless bless them if they would “turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all [their] heart …” (See 1 Samuel 12.20-22 for God’s whole admonition). But once Israel took that first step, the slide down and away from the Lord continued until Israel was completely apostate. The New Testament prophesies the same pattern of apostasy for His churches. We are witnessing it before our eyes in America.
God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, ordained the church and walked with the church until His ascension. When He ascended, He sent the Holy Spirit to walk in and with believers and His churches under His Headship only; their spirits from heaven (heavenly) making the places where they walk together on earth heavenly.
Sadly, most churches are completely under civil government; they are completely apostate. They are under civil government only.
If a church does not become a temporal, earthly, legal entity through incorporation or any other acts, and if that church seeks to honor God in all things, she is under God only.
Recommended sermon which further explains this preliminary article: Authority, the Greatest Thing in the Universe Dr. Greg Dixon 2005.
This sermon explains the two meanings of power as used in the Bible and the importance of authority and power and correct doctrine to a church. It explains how great men of God can proceed according to some false doctrine and the consequences thereof.
Recommended: listen to this 7 min. 24 sec. excerpt from a sermon, in conjunction with this article: A Call to Anguish
A Call to Anguish: Churches Reject God’s Authority
God grieves because His people neither understand nor honor His authority and His precepts. God’s grief calls churches and believers to anguish, but few grieve, few cry, few pray, few even know that there is a call to anguish. The call started a long time ago. Authentic churches in the colonies and then the new nation, even though warned by God’s remnant, betrayed their roots and compromised the authority of God. Their betrayal passed on to future churches. The betrayal of God increased exponentially for 225 plus years to this very day. This article points out one proof of the consequences of this betrayal that should call believers and churches to anguish.
God ordained civil government and laid out its jurisdiction. God gave civil government no authority or ability to define “church.” God defines “church” in the New Testament. God also made clear that church and state were to remain totally separate. Yet, that was never the case, except for a remnant, in either the American colonies or the states.
“Anthony Levandowski has already filed paperwork with the IRS for the nonprofit corporation that is going to run this new religion. Officially, this new faith will be known as ‘Way Of The Future.’” The article goes on to explain the tenets of the “Way Of The Future,” which include a faith in science which will create a “Godhead” which will make things better and a denial of the existence of God.
Had God remained the sole authority for churches, organizations like “Way of the Future” could have existed, but they could not have received official sanction and “benefits” from any authority, earthly or heavenly.
Religious Americans, to include many Baptists alongside obviously heretical or apostate Protestants and Catholics, gave civil government the power, the authority to define “church.” Civil government took to the task, first in issues involving state non-profit corporate status; then, later in the twentieth century, income tax exemption status.
As to federal tax exemption law, the authority has developed a process and rationale to determine whether an organization applying for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status is a “church.” When determining whether an organization is a “church,” a “religious organization,” or a “religious society,” the IRS (and court, if the IRS ruling is appealed), has a 14 part criteria, which—though not all-conclusive since other factors will be considered when deemed appropriate by the IRS—is a man-made definition; a definition which is partially contrary to the Word of God. En 1gives the IRS definition of church with link to online IRS webpage; En 2 discusses a sample IRS ruling; En 3 briefly discusses some cases which have attempted to define church and links directly to those cases.
The IRS agency makes initial determinations, but the ultimate authority is the judiciary. Regardless of the ruling of the IRS, the losing party can appeal to the appropriate court asking for reversal and laying out their arguments for their position. Ultimately, the case could go all the way to man’s highest authority on issues such as this, the United States Supreme Court.
What is wrong with this? God made clear that Christ in heaven is to be the only authority (power or head) “over all things to” His churches. Put another way, a church, the spiritual body whose feet walk and work on earth, is to be connected to only one spiritual head, Christ in heaven. This connection was made after Christ ascended to heaven and filled the members of the church with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Ac. 2.4). God the Son, before his ascension, walked with his disciples and apostles. God the Holy Ghost now indwelt them, thereby giving them a direct spiritual link to their God-ordained Head who was now in heaven.
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ep. 1.19-23).
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ep. 2.19-23).
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1.18).
From the above verses, and many more that could be quoted, one sees that God desires his churches to be spiritual entities or bodies (See also, e.g., Ep. 4 and the whole book of Ep., Col., and 1 Co. 12 for more on churches as spiritual bodies) connected to their only God ordained Head, the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, while walking and working for the glory of God as heavenly, spiritual, eternal entities only here on the earth. Churches are to be “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit,” not built together as corporate 501(c)(3) or 508 organizations according to man’s earthly, temporal, legal laws.
Most of the credit for the door being opened to Godless “religions” to gain the ability to be labeled as “churches” lies with not only with Protestants and Catholics but also with the progenitors of those martyrs who gave their lives standing for New Testament principles, one of which is separation of church and state. Once they had an opportunity to do so, the majority of even authentic Baptist believers and churches who honored and even died standing for the principle of separation of church and state while persecuted betrayed their head, their authority, the Lord Jesus Christ. They incorporated, and with the advent of tax exempt law, they applied for tax exempt status; along with many new breeds of “churches.”
All incorporated and/or 501(c)(3) and 508 “churches” operate under the authority of both the state government of incorporaton and the federal government, even those who also have or once had some connection to the Lord Jesus Christ. The latter sometimes operate partially under Jesus Christ and partially under civil government; sometimes solely under the authority of civil government.
New Testament churches who obtain state non-profit corporation status and get federal tax exempt status partially or totally lose the power of God. They are no longer spiritual entities only under the authority, headship or power of Christ alone. They have chosen to become earthly legal entities partially or totally connected to earthly heads, the government of the state of incorporation and the federal government. Without the power of God, they are ill-equipped to do their work: the perfecting of the saints (inside the assembly), the work of the ministry, the edification of the body of Christ, going into all the world and preaching the gospel to every creature (Mk. 16.15), and performance of other duties outside the assembly. They no longer resemble the spiritual bodies described in the New Testament:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ep. 4.11-16)[Bold emphasis mine]
See also, e.g., 1 Co. 12.
Aditionally, by mixing church and state, churches opened the door to the untenable situation where an earthly temporal civil government which has neither the authority nor the ability to understand spiritual matters is granted power over the church and put in charge of defining “church,” “religious organization,” “religious society,” etc. This mixing of the holy with the unholy has resulted in the inevitable consequences we see shaping up as a result of civil government definition of “church.”
In conclusion, should the IRS and/or the court decide that “Way Of The Future” is a qualified tax exempt religious organization or church, true churches will coexist as earthly legal entities alongside not only already existing corporate 501(c)(3) organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the Church of Wicca, and the Church of Satan, but also another Godless and God-defying organization which directly challenges God and His existence. Because they do not remain under their God-ordained authority (power or headship)—the Lord Jesus Christ—they will possess either no power of God or, at best, a watered down power of God. They betray their Lord, they lose God’s power, God grieves, and they could care less!
Churches have betrayed God, lost the power of God, and caused our Lord who loved the church and gave himself for it to grieve by incorporating and getting 501(c)(3) status. Where is the anguish?
“The term church is found, but not specifically defined, in the Internal Revenue Code. With the exception of the special rules for church audits, the use of the term church also includes conventions and associations of churches as well as integrated auxiliaries of a church.
“Certain characteristics are generally attributed to churches. These attributes of a church have been developed by the IRS and by court decisions. They include:
Distinct legal existence
Recognized creed and form of worship
Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
Formal code of doctrine and discipline
Distinct religious history
Membership not associated with any other church or denomination
Organization of ordained ministers
Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study
Literature of its own
Established places of worship
Regular religious services
Sunday schools for the religious instruction of the young
Schools for the preparation of its members
“The IRS generally uses a combination of these characteristics, together with other facts and circumstances, to determine whether an organization is considered a church for federal tax purposes.
En 2: Internal Revenue Service Private Letter Ruling 8833001, 1988 PRL LEXIS 1594:
Just one illustration of what can happen when the civil government determines if an organization is a church, when IRS officials determine what constitutes a church within the meaning of IRC § 170(b)(1)(A)(i), follows. The threshold question in determining whether an organization is a church described in § 170(b)(1)(A)(i) is whether the organization qualifies as a religious organization described in § 501(c)(3). Using the 14-part IRS test to determine whether a religious organization was a church, IRS officials held that an organization with the following purpose as stated in its articles of incorporation and bylaws was a church: “[T]o establish an ecumenical church to help people learn to pay attention, wake up, and discover what both Christ and Buddha referred to as one’s true self.”
The ruling stated:
“The organization was established to develop an ecumenical form of religious practice, place greater significance on the modes of religious expression that would unify western and eastern modes of religious practice, place greater significance on the mystical or interior experience of religious truth than that of most western church denominations, and be more spiritually satisfying to members than other existing church organizations.”
In other words, the IRS determined that an organization whose purpose was directly contrary to the principles for a church laid down by the Lord in His Word was a church.
Note. The above ruling is available on LEXIS, a legal website which charges for its services. The website can be assessed in some public law libraries and law firm libraries.
En 3: A small sampling of cases which have attempted to define church and links directly to those cases. These cases cite many other cases which deal with the definition of “church”:
A family organized as an incorporated 501(c)(3) “religious society” and claimed property tax exemption. “People may not transform their families into religious organizations and thereby obtain exemption for property over which their dominion and use remain unaffected. Granting tax exempt status to PCO would exalt form over substance and violate the rule of construction that exemption statutes are strictly construed.” The case cites and discusses various cases from other jurisdictions.
Purported religious organization which was organized and operated primarily for motive of tax avoidance by private individuals in control of 501(c)(3) corporation, had no formally trained or ordained ministry, had no sacraments, rituals, education classes or literature of its own, had no liturgy other than simple meetings resembling mere social gatherings or discussion groups and did not require a belief in any supreme being or other being, and whose doctrine and beliefs were intentionally vague and nonbinding upon its members and whose members freely continued to practice other religions, was not a “church” as such term was used in state’s tax exemption laws.
Threshold question in determining whether real property is “church” entitled to tax exemption is whether entity claiming exemption is “church” within meaning of statute…. The organization in this case was an incorporated 501(c)(3) church. Test for determining whether organization is “church” entitled to tax exemption is subjective one, focusing on sincerity of belief and taking into account evidence on objective issues. … Principal motivation for organizing religious corporation was tax minimization and therefore, organization was not “church” and, therefore was not entitled to real property tax exemption in view of evidence that most of financial contributions to organization came from individual founder, that most of founder’s income came from taxpayer, that founder was primary beneficiary of organization’s financial actions, and that founder and his wife, who was co-founder, dominated meetings of organization’s board of trustees.
The precise question involved in the instant case–whether the reverence of a deity is a prerequisite to the receiving of a tax exemption for church property. A humanist organization organized as a nonprofit corporation under the laws of California, Fellowship of Humanity, applied for property tax exemption on the ground that the property was used “solely and exclusively for religious worship….” The fundamental question–is a belief in God or gods essential to “religious worship,” as those terms are used in the state Constitution? The answer of the court: “No.”
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin reviewed the evidence and concluded that “The evidence indicates that Basic Bible was established to evade taxation. Basic Bible failed to meet its burden of proving that it is a “church” or “religious association” under [Wisconsin law]. The court held that Basic Bible was not property tax exempt.” The fact that the church held “in trust” the property for which a property tax exemption was sought was not a factor in the decision. The Court concluded that incorporation and 501(c)(3) status is not a prerequisite for church property tax exemption; and, again, made clear that the fact that the church held the property “in trust” did not disqualify the church from property tax exemption.
En 4 For further study for the interested believer:
“Trust” is a Bible relationship that is recognized, not created, by man’s law. See Endnote 1.Many historic churches have honored this Bible relationship so as to keep their churches free from entanglement with civil government. See Endnote 2. Many American churches are presently declaring this trust relationship. See Endnote 3.
Recently, at an Unregistered Baptist Fellowship Conference, a gentleman said to me something others have commented on over the years, “We use the term steward because Biblical law is over man’s law.” His statement raises the question: “Why not use the term ‘steward’ instead of ‘trustee’ in describing the ‘trust’ relationship with property?” This article will look at Bible teaching for the answer and address some collateral matters: the meanings of the words “steward,” “trust,” “trustee,” “beneficiary,” “trust estate;” the eternal and temporal applications of the relationship; just versus unjust stewardship according to God; and the consequences of just and unjust application of the relationship.
Both “steward” and “trust” are Bible terms. “Steward” refers to the person to whom someone commits the care and management of his goods for his benefit. The term “trust” refers to the relationship created. The term “trustee,” a derivative of the word “trust,” is the equivalent of the term “steward.”
The term “trust” refers to both temporal/earthly and eternal/heavenly or spiritual relationships. “Trust” relationships are found throughout the Bible, even when the word “trust” or “steward” is not mentioned. Luke 16 speaks of a temporal material trust, and relates that trust to an eternal spiritual trust. 1 Thessalonians 2.4, and Titus 1.11 speak specifically and solely of the eternal spiritual trust. The first time the relationship is mentioned is in Genesis 1.27-31, where obviously although not explicitly stated, the relationship is both earthly and spiritual:
“27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
All such earthly and spiritual relationships have several essentials: the possession(s); the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of the possession(s); the commitment by the true owner of the possession(s) to another’s care and management; and the one to whom is entrusted the care and management of the possession(s) for the benefit of the true owner. Every Bible dispensation presents a specific stewardship under God.
Only once in the Bible, in Luke 16.1-13, are the words “steward” and “trust” used in the same passage. That passage is concerned with an earthly steward dealing with earthly possessions of his earthly master, the true owner of the possessions. There, “steward” refers to the person who has a duty to manage the goods of his master, for his master’s benefit. However, the Lord makes a connection between one’s earthly stewardship and his eternal stewardship (“Stewardship” means the office of a steward). The Lord says, “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? … “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk. 16.11, 13).
As has been pointed out, “steward” has the same meaning as “trustee.” So why not use “steward” instead of using derivatives of the word “trust,” to include “trustee.” The conclusion will answer this question; but first, this brief article takes a further look at “steward” and “trust.”
God entrusted mankind with all possessions, real and personal as well as spiritual. He owned all things—even the body, soul and spirit of man—but left all things, including the real estate, to man to be used for Him. God trusted man with all His earthly and eternal possessions. God committed all to his trust. He was “steward” or “trustee,” the one to whom God entrusted management and care of His possessions.
Now, let us examine the term “steward” and “stewardship” from a Bible perspective. Then we will look at “trust” and related terms—“trustor,” “trustee,” and “trust estate.”
The term “steward” is found in Genesis 15.2, 43.19, 44.1, 44.4; 1 Kings 16.9; Daniel 1.11; Matthew 20.8; Luke 8.3, 12.42; 16.1,2, 3, 8; 1 Corinthians 4.1,2; Titus 1:7. The word “stewardship” is used only three times in the Bible, all in Luke 16, verses 2, 3, and 4. “Stewardship” simply means “The office of a steward.”
A steward is a man who has charge of another’s goods. As defined in the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, “steward” means: “(1) A man employed in great families to manage the domestic concerns, superintend the other servants, collect the rents or income, keep the accounts, &c. See Gen. xv. 2—xliii. (2) In Scripture and theology, a minister of Christ, whose duty is to dispense the provisions of the gospel, to preach its doctrines and administer its ordinances. It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 1 Cor. iv.”
The first meaning of “steward” is reflected in several passages of the Bible: Genesis 15.2, 43.19, 44.1, 44.4; 1 Kings 16.9; Matthew 20.8; Luke 8.3, 12.42, 16.1-13 (parable of the unjust steward). Certainly, although not directly dealing with the eternal meaning, many of those stewardships have spiritual applications: Matthew 20.8; Luke 12.42-48 (levels of punishment based upon whether or not the steward knew the Lord’s will), 16.1-13.
The eternal application alone is seen in 1 Corinthians 4.1, 2: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”; and Titus 1.7: “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.”.
The story of a rich man and his unjust steward, which is related in Luke 16.1-13, is very instructive. The terms “trust” and “steward” are used in that parable. The master committed his goods to the steward’s trust (verses 1 and 11). The master was the beneficiary, “the true, beneficial, and equitable owner.”
The steward in this parable was an out-and-out-crook. He was guilty of malfeasance in office and misappropriation of funds. He wasted the goods of his master. His day of reckoning had come (Lk. 16.3). He was afraid of losing his stewardship, felt he could not do manual work, and was ashamed to beg. However, he, like many, was not ashamed to steal (verse 3). He did not repent, nor did he have regret or remorse for his actions. He was crooked—called “clever” by the world’s standards. He had no training for other work, his age was probably against him, he was too proud to beg, but he was not ashamed to be dishonest. He called all his master’s debtors and gave them big discounts.
The Bible tells us that the world loves its own but hates those who belong to God. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (Jn. 15:18-19). In Galatians 1.3-4, Paul says, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Again in Romans 12.2 Paul says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15).
The first commandment of the world is “self-preservation.” A shady business deal is winked at, questionable practices countenanced, and a clever crook is commended by the world. The law is on the side of the crook and the criminal many times. Every man, according to the world’s law, is innocent until proven guilty. God takes the opposite approach. God says that a man is guilty until proven innocent. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3.23). A man can never be innocent before God, but he can be justified before Him. When a man trusts Jesus Christ as his Savior, he is justified by faith. See, e.g., Ro. 8.1.
The master did not punish the unjust steward, but commended him. Apparently the rich man got rich using the same kind of principles that his unjust steward used and he commended him, saying that the steward had done wisely. In what way? According to the principles of the world. This is the world that hates Christ. It makes its own rules. The law of the world is “dog eat dog.” The worldly master commended his worldly steward for his worldly wisdom according to his worldly dealings. The Lord Jesus said, “… For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” That is, the children of this world, of this age, use their money more wisely than do the children of light.
Then, our Lord makes the most shocking and startling statement of all. It concerns the relationship of the “mammon of righteousness,” that is, riches, money: “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations” (Lk. 16.9). Money is not evil in itself; it is amoral. The love of money is the root of all evil. For believers, money is to be spiritual. Our Lord said that we should lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. We should be wise in the way we use our money. Then when we “fail” or come to the end of life, we will be welcomed in heaven.
Believers are spiritual stewards (trustees) of all that God commits to their trust; all of which is spiritual. We own nothing as believers. We are responsible to God for how we use His goods. We are to use the “mammon of unrighteousness” to gather spiritual wealth:
“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own. No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Lk. 16.10-13).
In this parable, the Lord Jesus is saying, “Do you think God is going to trust you with heavenly riches if you are not using properly or rightly the earthly possessions which He has given you?” Are you serving God or mammon? You cannot serve both.
Now, let us look at “trust” and related terms. “Trustor,” “trustee,” and “trust estate” are derivatives of the word “trust.” The concept of trust if found throughout the Bible. The suffix “-ee” added to trust results in a new word meaning a person with to whom something is entrusted. A “trustor” is one who entrusts monies and properties to a “trustee” who holds the money and property entrusted to him in “trust” for the benefit of the true, equitable, and beneficial owner, the “beneficiary.”
Some meanings of trust, as given in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, are: “(1) Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person. He that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. Proverbs 20.25. (2) Something committed to a person’s care for use or management, and for which an account must be rendered. Every man’s talents and advantages are a trust committed to him by his Maker, and for the use or employment of which he is accountable.”
In the context of definition (2), the word “trust” is mentioned four times in the Bible:
“But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thes. 2.4).
“According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (1 Ti. 1:11).
“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Ti. 6:20).
“If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who [what trustor] will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own” (Lk. 16:11-12)?
In all these references, that which God entrusted was not material and spiritual, but spiritual only—“the true riches.”
The Lord spoke of this concept of trust, in conjunction with an earthly temporal example, in Matthew 25.14-30 and Luke 19.12-27, although He used neither the word “trust” nor “steward or stewardship.” He spoke of an earthly master leaving certain amounts of his goods or money with his servants, according to their abilities. Actually, the more important parallel spiritual meaning was to the Lord and His servants. The master had an absolute right to his own goods, but he distributed to his servants to be used for the benefit of the master, the servants to be awarded according to their profitable use of the property entrusted to them. Some used the money productively and upon the master’s return presented him with a profit. The property belonged to the master, and the servants were to use it for the master’s benefit, not for their own benefit. Of course, they would be rewarded if they used the property wisely for the benefit of the master. One servant in each example returned only the original amount left in trust with them. The master instructed that the goods which he had left with the unprofitable servants be taken from them, and they were left with nothing. The profitable servants were rewarded by the master. In the story found in Matthew, the Master said, “[C]ast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 25.30). Men, as servants of the Master are likewise left in trust of all things for His benefit and will be rewarded or punished according to their use of His goods.
In conclusion, the words “steward” and “trustee” signify the same thing. However, the use of the term “trustee,” a word derived from the word “trust” by adding the suffix “-ee” is preferable to the use of “steward” when describing the entire relationship. Why? For five reasons taken together. First, the terms “steward” and “trustee” mean the same thing.
Second, the one time “trust” and “steward” are used in the same immediate verses, “steward” denotes the person with the responsibility over another’s goods and “trust” is used to signify the fiduciary relationship with the master’s goods or property (Lk. 16). Even though “steward” is the one with the duty to rightly administer the goods the master commits to his trust, the name given to the arrangement is “trust.”
Third, no where in the Bible are all the terms involved in the relationship reduced to singular (as “trustor”) or modified terms (as “trust estate”).
Thus, fourth, the use of “trust” and derivatives is more practical. The term “trust” as a noun (and as an adjective) and its derivatives, more succinctly describe all aspects of the relationship: “trustor,” “trustee,” and “trust estate.” On the other hand, the term “stewardship” is less adaptable: one can interchange “steward” and “trustee;” but the word “trust” describes the overall relationship. No word derived from “steward” describes the person who establishes the stewardship (the “trustor”). No word derived from “steward” describes the estate the steward is responsible for (“trust estate”)—er, perhaps the “stewardship estate?”; but stewardship means the office of a steward. Parallel words leave less room for argument and misunderstanding. Imagine trying to explain these matters to a lost person.
Finally, American law, although not establishing the Bible concept of trust, recognizes it. In so doing, American law uses the Bible term “trust” and its derivatives. For example, American Jurisprudence 2d Trusts, a highly regarded encyclopedia of American law, describes “trust” in § 1, as follows:
“The fundamental nature of a trust is the division of title, with the trustee being the holder of legal title and the beneficiary that of equitable title. By definition, the creation of a trust must involve a conveyance of property.
“A ‘trust’ exists where the legal title to property is held by one or more persons, under an equitable obligation to convey, apply, or deal with such property for the benefit of other persons. A trust has been defined as a fiduciary relationship with respect to property, subjecting the person by whom the title to the property is held to equitable duties to deal with the property for the benefit of another person, which arises as a result of a manifestation of an intention to create it. The Restatement definition is similar, providing that a trust, when not qualified by the word ‘resulting’ or ‘constructive,’ is a fiduciary relationship with respect to property, arising from a manifestation of intention to create that relationship and subjecting the person who holds title to the property to duties to deal with it for the benefit of charity or for one or more persons, at least one of whom is not the sole trustee.
“Caution: A trust consists not only of property, but also of the trust instrument, the trust’s beneficiaries and trustees, and the trust administrator [if any].”
American Jurisprudence 2d, Trusts § 2 makes clear that a “trust” is not a legal entity, but merely a fiduciary relationship with property. For one thing, this means that the one cannot sue the trust, since it is not recognized as a legal entity. This is not true of a “business trust,” a “charitable trust” or some other legal extensions of the “trust” relationship.
“No particular words are necessary to create a trust if there exists reasonable certainty as to the intended property, object, and beneficiary. Further, the purpose and intention, rather than the use of any particular term, determines whether a valid trust has been established.” American Jurisprudence 2d, Trusts § 65.
The important thing for the born again believer, regardless of the terms used, is that he handle the use of God’s properties, all of which are spiritual to a born again believer, according to the principle of trust as described in the Bible. Those faithful and wise churches who remain under God only will be blessed by their Lord. However, churches who choose to leave their first love by placing themselves at least partially under the state (for example, corporate (aggregate of sole) 501(c)(3) or 508 churches), have left their first love and betrayed their Lord’s trust. They are unfaithful and act unwisely; they act either knowingly or unknowingly and will punished accordingly (see Lk. 12.42-48; see also Lk. 16 discussed above).
En 2: In WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 157 Wis.2d 539 (1990), 461 N.W.2d 143, Court of Appeals of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs December 8, 1989. Decided August 2, 1990 the court reviewed pertinent Wisconsin statutes back to 1849 to determine if a church or religious organization must be incorporated for its property to be tax exempt [under state law]. Annotation to the law said: “Achurch consists of those who are communicants, have made a public profession of religion and are united by a religious bond of common spiritual welfare. It is the spiritual body….we must hold that the mere fact that [a] church or religious society had not yet been incorporated at the time of the delivery of [a] deed in no way frustrated the trust thereby created, if such trust was otherwise valid.” Fadness v. Braunborg, 73 Wis. 257, 278-79, 41 N.W. 84, 90 (1889) (emphasis in original)…. In Holm v. Holm, 81 Wis. 374, 382, 51 N.W. 579, 581 (1892), the facts included that the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Roche-a-Cree was a voluntary association until February 7, 1889. The court noted that “[p]rior to that date the title to the churches in which the members of the association worshiped was vested in trustees named in . . . deeds, and their successors in office. . . . The trusts imposed by such deeds appear to have been valid upon the principles stated by this court in Fadness v. Braunborg. . . .Id. …In Franke v. Mann, 106 Wis. 118, 131, 81 N.W. 1014, 1018-19 (1900), the court further said that ‘[w]hat has been said is in harmony with the law regarding trusts for religious uses….’ The Basic Bible Church established that title to the real estate subject to foreclosure was held in the name of the trustees for the benefit of the church. We conclude that the trust constituted an ‘entity’ which could claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4), Stats., for the benefit of the Basic Bible Church.”
“A valid trust need not be in writing. It can be created orally unless the language of the written conveyance excludes the existence of a trust. Sanderson v. Milligan,585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Linder v. Little, 490 S.W.2d 717, 723 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1972); and Adrian v. Brown, 29 Tenn. App. 236, 243, 196 S.W.2d 118, 121 (1946). However, when a party seeks to establish an oral trust, it must do so by greater than a preponderance of the evidence. Sanderson v. Milligan, 585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Hunt v. Hunt, 169 Tenn. 1, 9, 80 S.W.2d 666, 669 (1935); and Browder v. Hite, 602 S.W.2d 489, 493 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1980).
“The existence of a trust requires proof of three elements: (1) a trustee who holds trust property and who is subject to the equitable duties to deal with it for the benefit of another, (2) a beneficiary to whom the trustee owes the equitable duties to deal with the trust property for his benefit, and (3) identifiable trust property. See G.G. Bogert & G.T. Bogert, The Law of Trusts and Trustees § 1, at 6 (rev. 2d ed. 1984) and Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 2 comment h (1957). We find that the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center has proved the existence of each of these elements by clear and convincing evidence.” [p. 333].
En 3: Many churches are now organized in accordance with the Bible trust relationship. More are honoring God in this matter on a regular basis: the Biblical Law Center has organized over a dozen in the last year and a half, as well as scores of churches over the last 30 years. No matter what terms a Christian uses, he should do all in accordance with Bible principle for the glory of God.
Churches under Christ Ministry is under the authority of Charity Baptist Tabernacle of Amarillo, Texas, Benjamin Hickam Pastor. Jerald Finney, a Christian Lawyer and member of Charity Baptist Tabernacle explains how a church in America can remain under the Lord Jesus Christ and Him only. "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1.22).