The Rose of Sharon (Transcript of a sermon depicting the love relationship between Christ and His local visible church, emphasizing the importance of organization under Christ only as opposed to corporate 501c3 or 508 status or legal status of any kind.
First, the wrong response by believers and churches to Obergefell. Obviously, some incorporated 501c3 churches, their leaders, and their attorneys cannot see the light. They continue in their ignorance of the Bible principles of church, government, and separation of church and state. They do not realize that they have done great damage to the cause of Christ by placing their (notice that I did not say “the Lord’s”) churches under civil government through legal entity status (incorporation including corporation sole, unincorporated association, charitable trust, Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) Status, etc.). The two entries below, followed by my responses, exemplify my point. The first entry below is a Facebook entry of Clyde C. Parker, Jr. His advice shows his ignorance. Sadly, his entry has been shared by a lot of people, demonstrating the extent of ignorance about these matters. The second entry is a link to a CLA press release responding to the Obergefell decision advising churches what to do in response to that decision. Both display total lack of spiritual understanding of what should be done.
Clyde C. Parker JrEdited·Everyone please make this post Public and share with everyone. Attention all Fundamental Baptist Churches!!! Because of the recent Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage please immediately update your “By Laws and Articles of Faith/” You can contact “The Christian Law Association” We’re in the process of doing it NOW and as quick as I can I’ll post a copy of what CLA says about updating.
Updating your “By Laws and Articles of Faith” is not what you should do. Parker is alarmed and has no clue as to the right thing to do. You should get your churches out from under civil government. Your first and preeminent step should be to get rid of corporate, 501c3 status and all legal entity status asap–to understand why, you need to study the Bible doctrines of church, government and separation of church and state. You need to apply those doctrines. To understand how, you need the help of a lawyer who follows Bible precept, not hirelings who forsook Bible principle and got rich by either charging for their services or by taking only donations or gifts rather than “charging for their services.” Many churches and Christians give God’s money to these organizations which then promote and implement Satan’s methods of church organization. This website has all the resources you need to speed up your study.
The above press release proves that the CLA is totally lacking in historical, legal, and scriptural understanding of what to do. If I get time, I may analyze the release in an article. The informed believer should be able to read, analyze, and see the article for what it is. The CLA is part of the reason America and America’s churches are where they are. The CLA has convinced untold numbers of churches to become legal entities under state and federal law and not under God as prescribed in the New Testament and in the First Amendment. CLA and other such “Christian” legal organizations are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Now to the correct response. My message to churches and believers who wish to please God: start in depth studies of the resources on this website. Can’t you see that your ways have failed? Can’t you see that you have been lied to and that you have followed lies? Open your eyes now and love light rather than darkness, if you wish to glorify God. Repent! Church incorporation and 501(c)(3) status are evil. The resources on this website prove this. The resources on this website give you the truth you need to know in light of the Obergefell decision. Reorganize the church you are a member of, then seek to please God in all matters as you are taught by the word of God, the King James Bible, in all things.
The webpage, The Sodomite Agenda, Religious Organizations, And Government Tyranny, and the resources linked to therein, along with other resources on this website, explain the important biblical doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state as well as relevant historical facts and legal concepts which guide the Bible believing Christian in the way he, and the church he is a member of, should go – actually, the way he and churches should have gone long ago – in order to glorify God in these times of religious heresy and apostasy, moral awfulness and political and governmental tyranny. Most believers, churches, and “Christian” legal organizations (e.g., the CLA) do not have a clue about God’s mind concerning these matters; instead, they are in panic mode, remain in darkness, and continue in what they perceive to be right and what America and most of America’s churches teach them that they need to do to be good Americans rather than what the Bible teaches that they should do to be good Christians. By the way, the former assures that they will be neither good Christians nor good Americans, and the latter assures that they will be both good Christians and good Americans. Follow the former and hurt individuals, families, churches, and America; follow the latter and help individuals, families, churches, and America.
The Bible explains why the wrong response predominates. John 3:19-21: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
The remnant has assurance: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:19-20).
Man, since the beginning, has always been seduced by Satan. Things will not change until the Lord crushes the world powers, all of which operate under the principles of the god of this world, and establishes his kingdom. The trend of individuals, families, churches, and nations is, in general, always downward and deeper into religious apostasy, moral awfulness, and political tyranny; Obergefell and its progenitors as well as the downward religious, moral and political slide of America again prove this. Sadly, America and the world will continue into greater depths of depravity and rebellion against God’s way. Satan’s ways always offer what seems to man to be the best rewards; while in fact leading to dire consequences. God’s ways, on the other hand actually result in the glory of God, the joy of man, eternal life, and other positive consequences. A remnant has already acted according to Bible principles and guidelines or will modify their conduct and respond correctly to Obergefell by diligent study and modification of their conduct so as to comply with biblical guidelines;but the majority of those who profess to be believers will respond incorrectly, thereby aiding the god of this world in his ultimately unsuccessful schemes.
See Spurious rationale for church incorporation: to hold property (Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed; Chapter 7 of Separation of Church and State) for an explanation of the ordinary trust. That chapter shows how the ordinary trust comports perfectly with Bible principle and why this author now co-labels the ordinary trust a Bible trust.
Chapter 11: Answer to Ben Townsend’s Article, “It Really Isn’t Personal: ‘It’s Financial!'”
Townsend’s article demonstrates that Finney’s hope that publication of the booklet would foster a reasoned discussion has not materialized. From Townsend’s article, studied with an understanding of what Finney has published in the above online booklet, one who knows what is going on or who takes the time to study these matters out will readily understand that Townsend is not interested in or is incapable of a reasoned argumentation; understanding, explanation, and defense of the ELC method of church organization; and/or defense of his attacks against the Declaration of Trust and the ordinary trust thereby created which is promoted by the Biblical Law Center (“BLC”) and the ordinary Bible trust of the Old Paths Baptist Church “Separation of Church and State Law Ministry” (SCSLM). Townsend sets up fictitious straw-men and attacks those straw-men instead of confronting the issues raised, incorrectly frames the issues, creates his own reality, cannot engage in any meaningful dialogue, misleads the uneducated, engages in trivialities, and dishonors our Lord Jesus Christ. In this latest of ridiculous publications by Townsend “It Really Isn’t Personal: “It’s Financial!” Townsend proves true to form.
Townsend states in his article:
“There was a certain church we were using to demonstrate the truth that Scripture never wants the pastor to be any legal officer of any legal “instrument,” including an “Ordinary Trust” (Attorney Finney’s term) or a “Declaration of Trust” (BLC’s term). These are not Biblical instruments for Lordship Churches. They attempt to tell us that their “Trust” is not like any other Trusts. And MY dog is not like any OTHER dog! You have your “Business Dogs,” your “Revocable Dogs,” “Living Dogs,” “Charitable Dogs,” and I am sure Attorney Finney has an “Ordinary Dog.” And just because he may call his Ordinary Dog’s tail a leg, it does not make it have five legs. Actually, I would have preferred to use the BLC’s terminology and just say that I have made a “Declaration” that I HAVE a Dog. (Note: I use Dog here not making fun of anyone in the BLC or “whatever the name that other group is” who happens to be Dyslexic.)”
This paragraph demonstrates that Townsend is unlearned and incapable of honest study and debate. Prior chapters of this booklet point to the law that proves there are different types of trusts. If one does not believe what Jerald Finney writes in those chapters, he can go to the sources cited by Finney to determine whether Finney is telling the truth.
By the way, “ordinary trust” was not termed by Jerald Finney. The law of business trusts, for example, refers to the “ordinary trust,” something entirely different from the business trust.
Finney adopted the use of the term “Bible trust” or “ordinary Bible trust” to apply to the ordinary trust and related documents which he recommends for churches and which mirrors relevant Bible precepts. The pastor or other believer who is truly interested in honoring the Lord Jesus Christ can study these and other writings of Jerald Finney and find that:
The Ben Townsend and the Ecclesiastical Law Center (“ELC”) method creates a trust which is different from an “ordinary trust.” In other words, Ben Townsend’s method is a “dog” of a different breed.
Although the Ben Townsend and the Ecclesiastical Law Center (“ELC”) method does not utilize a Declaration of Trust (“DOT”) for each church, the ELC has a DOT which is published in ELC writings.
The ELC method creates a trust which is a legal entity and sets up the church using that method as a legal entity.
The Ben Townsend and the ELC method puts the pastor in the position of trustee for the church of a type of trust which is a legal entity.
The Ben Townsend and the ELC method makes an ELC church a legal entity.
The Declaration of Trust and ordinary Bible trust thereby created perfectly correspond to biblical principle. The ordinary trust thereby created is not a legal entity.
The church who places tithes, offerings, and gifts into the trust estate of an ordinary trust does not thereby make herself a legal entity; and she remains a non-legal entity as long as she does not act legally in any way.
The Declaration of Trust and ordinary trust thereby created does not make the pastor a legal office and the Declaration of Trust is not a legal document.
Townsend also suggests that money is a motivating factor for Finney. This is another ridiculous statement. This is a ministry for Finney into which he has poured a lot of money without any financial reward, and for which he has never asked (or received in gift any but insignificant) remuneration. Furthermore, this argument is another straw man which has nothing to do with the truths Finney has published in this booklet.
Townsend also states in the article:
“We have in our possession the document between the local church and the Pastor/Trustee, with RESOLUTIONS from the church body. Now, I am putting my neck out there and stating this is just paperwork that is done for you, and that NO ACTUAL business meeting was called by the church to pass these “Resolutions.” Let me define “Resolution:” “A corporate action, sometimes in the form of a legal document, that will be voted on or has been voted on at a meeting of the board of directors for a corporation.” I also have the Declaration of Trust from this same church, naming the pastor as “Pastor/Trustee.” I also have the document from an “entity” which rented part of the church’s building, naming the “Pastor/Trustee” as the “LandLORD” This “Pastor/Trustee” (according to the legal lease) “herein known as Landlord, has the right and authority to sub-let any portion of said leased premiseshe so desires.” (UNQUOTE ACTUAL DOCUMENT, emphasis added) And may I add something that Peter said: “Not for filthy lucre…neither as being LORDS over God’s heritage. (1 Peter 5:2-3).” Do you see? There is no need for Christ to be over His own church, the Pastor/Trustee/LandLORD can handle it just fine.”
Again, Townsend refers to a “corporate resolution” as though that were the only type resolution in existence. This author assumes that the reader has enough intelligence to figure this matter out and will not waste his time to show how utterly ridiculous Townsend’s reference is. This author knows that the churches he has worked with in establishing an ordinary trust have presented and explained the Resolution, DOT, and the ordinary trust to the entire church body.
This attorney would be glad to sit down with Townsend and the alleged Pastor/Trustee “LandLORD” and examine the alleged document to which Townsend refers. That is the only way this author or anyone else would be able to honestly evaluate the whole matter since one cannot depend for Townsend for the truth, only for misdirection.
This discourse between Townsend and this believer/attorney will, for those who take the time to study it out, reveal that Townsend and the ELC should not be depended upon for help in the matter of church organization. Those who blindly follow Townsend will continue in their misguided ways and thereby compromise their position as churches under the Lord Jesus Christ only as they proceed according to a chaotic ELC system of organization which is replete with scriptural and legal flaws.
The Bible teaches, for the present time, the local autonomous spiritual body (church), not the universal visible or invisible church. There will be a universal visible church after the marriage supper of the Lamb; then there will be no more local autonomous churches. For Bible teaching on this, see The Biblical Doctrine of the Church. Great sermons by Pastor Jason Cooley on the local church are:
Pastor Cooley has preached many sermons on the doctrine of the church. Links to those sermons are at Sermons by Pastor Jason Cooley at “3. Sermons dealing with the doctrine of the church.” Pastor Cooley will be preaching more on this doctrine and those sermons will be added to the page.
The notes in the C.I. Scofield Study Bible comment on a multitude of matters. Some churches use the Scofield Bible exclusively to the extent that the pastor, when preaching, will reference the page numbers he wishes the other church members to turn to. Scofield’s notes are not inspired by God. His commentaries are not the word of God. The word of God itself is totally true; and one must be careful to compare everything a Bible teacher says to the word of God. Some of Scofield’s teachings are true; some are false. He gave a lot of good and accurate insights to the Bible. However, his study Bible is flawed; and many of his margin notes, headnotes, and footnotes are inaccurate. Some of the fallacies that he taught (along with other deceived “Bible believers”) have had serious negative effects in the spiritual warfare that the Bible tells the believer, as a soldier of the Lord, to fight.
This brief article will address one of the serious fallacies promoted by the Scofield Study Notes, give some examples of both his incorrect (Headnote to Ephesians) and correct (Headnote to Titus and Note 1 to Acts 15.13, page 1169) teachings, and conclude with his complete line of verses linked by his margin notes on what he calls the “true church.”
Scofield’s headnotes to each book of the Bible, footnotes, and margin notes reference many subjects. The margin notes are listed in alphabetical order in the middle of each two column page; and, according to Scofield, lead the reader from the first clear mention of a great truth to the last. The subject is the first word(s) in the margin note. Following that is the verse (or verses) where the subject is at that particular place. The next verse(s) is/are the next reference in the chain, and the references in parenthesis are the first and last.
The author, when beginning his studies of the biblical doctrine of the church, followed, among other things, Scofield’s footnotes and margin notes which dealt with the doctrine of the church to include his so-called “true church” doctrine. After years of intense Bible study, the author concluded that the “true church” or universal church doctrine is totally unsound, according to the word of God. It seems that some Bible students simply did not understand what God was saying when He referred to “the church” or “my church” in the His Word; so they invented a doctrine that makes absolutely no sense when considered in light of Bible teaching. Of course, when a religious organization such as the Catholic church decides that that institution is the authority, it can propose that it is the universal church. Other churches have also incorporated the idea of a true or universal church (visible or invisible) into their theology. Now, the idea of the “universal church” has been picked up by many who are not in a local, autonomous New Testament church. Many of these heretics as to the doctrine of the church have their own “ministries” operating outside the authority of a local spiritual assembly. Some of them are right about many matters, but they are all wrong about many other matters. When one gets his doctrine of the church wrong, other doctrines which are intertwined with the doctrine of the church must be perverted.
Many Bible believers teach a universal church doctrine. Many are acting outside local church authority over the internet and on radio and television; there they operate outside God’s church, teaching and leading the unwary who usually contribute to their “ministry.” Some also correctly organize into local churches with no earthly authority over them (except the federal government if they choose to violate the Bible principle and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution by becoming a legal entity such as an incorporated and/or Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) religious organization).
The spiritual and temporal implications are enormous. For example, in soul-winning, lost people are told by some, “We are not concerned about which church you attend. We just want to explain to you what the Bible teaches about how to be saved. We want you to know that you will go to heaven when you die.” They follow that with their sales pitch to try to lead the person to saying a prayer. In the author’s experience, almost all the people who say the prayer never show any change in lifestyle. If they go to a “church” such as the Roman Catholic religious organization or cult, they stay there. Whether or not they become a member of a church, many die and go to hell because their so-called “fire insurance” was worthless. Other universal church adherents get the doctrine of salvation right even though their “after salvation” theology is wrong, according to the Bible.
Click the following to access teaching of the correct doctrine of the church: “The Biblical Doctrine Of The Church.” One can also reference “Biblical principles concerning the institution of the church and local autonomous churches” (From Jerald Finney’s Bible Study Notes”) which have been organized and also revised by correcting Scofield’s errors in most of his notes on “true church” doctrine. Understanding the doctrine of the church is very important for a believer since “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ep. 5:25-27. The believer who does not correctly understand this doctrine cannot understand other important principles and doctrines in the Bible. Of course, the believer should examine, with the Bible as his standard, what anyone says, including what this author writes, concerning any biblical doctrine.
Scofield’s Headnote to Ephesians says in relevant part:
“DATE. … Ephesians is the most impersonal of Paul’s letters. Indeed the words, ‘to the Ephesians,’ are not in the best manuscripts. Col 4:16 mentions an epistle to the Laodiceans. It has been conjectured that the letter known to us as Ephesians is really the Laodicean letter. Probably it was sent to Ephesus and Laodicea without being addressed to any church. The letter would then be ‘to the saints and the faithful in Christ Jesus’ anywhere.
“THEME. The doctrine of the Epistle confirms this view. It contains the highest church truth, but has nothing about church order. The church here is the true church, ‘His body,’ not the local church, as in Philippians, Corinthians, etc. Essentially, three lines of truth make up this Epistle: the believer’s exalted position through grace; the truth concerning the body of Christ; and a walk in accordance with that position.”
This short article cannot explain the error in the false conclusions he makes concerning the “true church, ‘His body’.” The teachings linked to above will explain what the Bible really teaches on the subject. Scofield’s conclusions on the “true church” do not withstand biblical scrutiny. Of course, any book of the Bible is written to “to the saints and the faithful in Christ Jesus” anywhere. However, when taken in the immediate and overall context, Ephesians certainly does not teach a “true church” as conceived by Scofield.
Notice that Scofield not only makes a false statement concerning the “true church,” but also discredits the King James Bible in a few of his notes. Sadly, many Christians have blindly followed Scofield or other teachers without checking out what they say against the authority – the word of God. I strongly disagree with Scofield’s assertion that the King James Bible was not based upon the best manuscripts. Although that is not the subject of this article, the subject is so important that it cannot go unmentioned. See King James Bible.
Scofield gets it right in some of his notes concerning some aspects of the doctrine of the church:
Headnote to Titus: “Titus has much in common with First Timothy. Both Epistles are concerned with the due order of the churches. The distinction is that in First Timothy sound doctrine is more prominent (1Tim. 1:3-10), in Titus the divine order for the local churches (Tit. 1:5). The permanent use of these Epistles lies in this twofold application, on the one hand to churches grown careless as to the truth of God, on the other, to churches careless as to the order of God’s house. The importance of this order is made solemnly emphatic in that the tests by which true elders and deacons may be known are repeated (1Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:6-9). There are two divisions: I. The qualifications and functions of elders, 1.1-16. II. The pastoral work of the true elder, 2.1-3, 15.”
Note 1 to Acts 15.13, page 1169: “Dispensationally, [Acts 15.13 et. seq.] is the most important passage in the NT. It gives the divine purpose for this age, and for the beginning of the next. (1) The taking out from among the Gentiles of a people for His name, the distinctive work of the present, or church-age. The church is the ecclesia—the “called-out assembly.” [Here correctly explained what the church is for this age – a called out assembly. Such a thing cannot be universal, but must be local. As explained in Hebrews 12.22-24 (see below)]
Mt. 16.18: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Acts 2:47: “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
1. Co. 12:12-28 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”
2 Co. 11:2-3: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Ep. 1.22-23: “22 And hat put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”
Ep. 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.”
Ep. 3.1-10: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,”
Ep. 5:23, 25-27, 29-32: “(23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. (24) Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (29) For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (31) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (32) This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
Col. 1:18, 24: “(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…. (24) Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.”
He. 2:12: “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”
1 Thes. 4.16-17: 1 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
He. 12:23 which is the end of the line for Scofield’s sloppy “true church” doctrine: “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,” [He. 12:22-24 says: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” [Conclusion: The universal visible church spoken of here will come into existence in the heavenly Jerusalem.]
Someone recently referred me to a YouTube excerpt from one of Pastor Steven Anderson’s sermons dealing with the issue of church Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0l2EkAZwB8&feature=youtu.be. A brief review of his ridiculous tirade is in order since Pastor Anderson’s teaching in that blurb is published for the world and since it deals with the institution which Christ loved and gave Himself for. The author offers a cursory analysis in this article, but one can educate himself biblically, historically, and legally on these matters by going to the Separation of Church and State Law blog. Pastor Anderson’s statements, usually in red and parentheses, are followed by the author’s comments.
The author will address some of Anderson’s points in the order or his presentation:
(1) “I don’t go to church because all the churches are 501c3. You didn’t get that from reading the Bible….”
The Bible is a book of many principles. One such principle is separation of church and state. 501c3 churches have at least partially submitted themselves to a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ who desires to be the only head of the local New Testament church. This is explained in much detail in the materials on the above website. For specific information on 501c3 go to the following articles: Federal government control of churches through 501(c)(3) tax exemption and The church incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme. By the way, all churches are not 501c3.
(2) “You got that off the internet, off some website…. ”
How does he know where they got it? The author got it from studying the Bible and 501c3 to see if 501c3 displeases our Lord. That is where the author’s pastor got it. The truth about the matter is undeniable by any knowledgeable believer. Of course, one must first understand the Biblical principles of church, government, and separation of church and state before he can fully understand some more advanced matters, but the above articles will easily be comprehended by the believer who has done some study of the Bible. One can study the Biblical principles of church, government, and separation of church and state by going to sections 1-3 (A-C) of the book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. The book is available free in both PDF and online form. Or one can order this and other books by Jerald Finney by going to Order information for books by Jerald Finney.
(3) He then swerves into an explanation of the meaning of incorporation.
To understand incorporation, go to Church Corporate-501c3 Status, and especially to the Incorporation of Churches chapter. You will discover that he does not know what he is talking about. He is out of his field of expertise.
He states that the vehicle outside belongs to “the church” and that for the church to own it, the church has to be its own entity.
He is right about that. However, a church can take advantage of the use of a vehicle or the use of a building, for example without owning it. To own anything, a church must become a legal entity, as opposed to a spiritual entity. The Biblical principle is that God desires all His churches to remain spiritual entities only. Study the free materials above to understand this. The book, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities, is a short book for a pastor or believer who already has a basic knowledge of Biblical principles. Pastor Anderson does not meet that condition. The book is available in both PDF and online form, or can be ordered (see the link above).
(4) He then abruptly asks, “Who thinks we should get rid of driver’s licenses, … birth certificates, … not carry I.d…“?
That has nothing to do with church incorporation and 501c3. Those things involve the individual, not the church. This author has a driver’s license, birth certificate, and carries an I.D. Anderson, not knowing what he is talking about, resorts to “straw men,” and attacks the straw men. Those who are not studied in these matters may be convinced.
(5) He says, “Running a church legally is really complicated. I spend days….”
He is incorrect. His church is run illegally and it takes so much time and effort to run his religious organization that he does not have the time to also pastor a First Amendment (New Testament) church. Maybe that is why he is so ignorant about these matters. He does not have the time to do the studying a pastor is instructed by the Bible to do. He does not have time to be a pastor because his religious organization is a legal entity (not a church or a spiritual entity) and the non-profit corporation law requirements of the sovereign under whose laws that entity was organized (the state) overwhelm the pastor, the trustees, and the corporate offices in legal red tape. The incorporated religious organization, a legal entity, is illegally organized according to the Highest Law (God’s Law) and man’s law (The First Amendment to the United States Constitution). According to the First Amendment, the civil government may make no law respecting an establishment of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof. Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) is a law which was made by Congress which, when applied to churches, violates the First Amendment which is a statement of the Biblical principle of separation of church and state (not separation of God and state). Even though many religious organizations run down to get their illegal 501c3 status, the First Amendment guarantees churches the freedom to do things God’s way. Again, see the website for more information on this – the following articles give a quick look at the issues: Does God and/or Civil Government Require Churches to Get 501(c)(3) Status, and Christians Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil.
(6) Then he says, “Same thing with my business. Running a business is even worse than running a church…. [It takes me days and weeks to figure out my taxes].”
He runs his church like he runs his business! Exactly. Are you getting the picture? Of course, when one runs a church like he runs a business, he is grieving our Lord, according to the Bible. No wonder this man is so utterly ignorant about these matters. Here he is, running his business and running a church according to the same principles. In addition, he leaves absolutely no significant time to study, prepare his sermons, and serve as a pastor.
(7) “That is the way you have to do it in America to be legal in America, like you have to drive with a driver’s license…. I know a pastor in town … he has no driver’s license, he has no vehicle registration, he never files taxes, his church is totally off the grid, I mean he doesn’t report anything….. He even says to me, ‘Don’t do this’…. His church is much smaller than ours…. All of these people jumping up and screaming, ‘I don’t want to go to any church that’s incorporated,’ … you’d think he’d have 5000 people in his service this morning…. That’s shows me that these people are all just talk. They just have an excuse for not going to church…. ”
There are plenty of non-incorporated non-501c3 churches. Refer to the author’s comments under (4) and (5) above for more relevant information. No more time will be expended to explain the obvious about these ludicrous remarks.
(8) “There’s all this disinformation and lies out there claiming that any church that’s incorporated is of the devil, and that it’s worshiping Satan, and the head of the IRS actually runs the church….”
See Separation of Church and State Law blog, for biblically, historically, and legally reasoned and reliable teaching on these matters. PerhapsAnderson is offering his spurious diatribe as justification for his own presumptuous, willful, or ignorant sin.
(9) “None of it’s Biblical, none of it came from studying of the word of God, none of it came from the Holy Spirit.”
Those assertions are applicable to his arguments.
(10) “There are different levels of going off the grid against government…. [Gets back into straw men arguments as “Driver’s License.”] I render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars.”
He renders unto Caesar the things that are God’s when he incorporates a church. The church the author is a member of (Old Paths Baptist Church of Northfield, Minnesota), the pastor (Pastor Jason Cooley), and the members thereof render unto God the things that are His and unto Caesar the things that are Caesars. See Render unto God the Things that Are His/A Systematic Study or Romans 13 and Related Verses, available in both PDF and online form.
(11) “I’m not going to prison…. If anyone goes to prison because of the way offerings are taken and the way the bank account is, I’m the one that’s gonna go to prison. Pastor Anderson, the money that you make pastoring, I don’t think you should pay taxes on that. You need to be off the grid, our church needs to be totally off the grid. I church needs to do everything in cash. I’m the one that’s gonna go to prison and you’re just gonna disappear off into the sunset.”
Anderson speaks like a businessman or the CEO or a corporate religious organization. He speaks in secular, not Biblical terms. A religious organization pays its pastor. The members of a First Amendment (New Testament) church provide for the pastor and his family.
The church the author is a member of is a First Amendment (New Testament) church (Old Paths Baptist Church of Northfield, Minnesota) which means it is non-incorporated and non-501c3. The pastor (Pastor Jason Cooley) pays income tax on the money given by the church body to provide for him and his family. Tithes, offerings, and gifts which are administered through a bank account (which is not in the name of the church but which is held in accordance with the law) are given to God, not to a religious organization or a corporation (as is the case with the incorporated and/or 501c3 religious organization), and used for Biblically acceptable purposes. If any pastor or church member commits a crime and is charged and convicted, he will be punished according to the prescriptions of his state (or the federal) penal code. That is true no matter how one’s church is organized. If one commits a tort, he is subject to suit in civil court, no matter how his church is organized. See Separation of Church and State Lawand resources thereon for much more on this. See the website to learn who is more subject to liability – the member of the incorporated and/or 501c3 church or the member of a church which is not a legal entity.
(12) “Most churches are 501c3 and to say they’re wicked, you’re wicked.”
His misleading and false arguments and attacks would be funny if the subject matter were not so important. Sadly, many so called “Doctors” who are pastors, presidents of Bible Colleges, etc. are as lacking in substance and reasoning ability as this man as they argue before their “herd” and before the world, thereby not only hurting the cause of Christ as they mislead the members of their corporation while giving the world a good laugh as they are turned off to what they perceive to be a ridiculous religion. If one is going to invoke the ire of the world, why not do it in a manner which honors God – that is, with knowledge, understanding, and wisdom – the way the apostles did it and the way the Lord instructs us to do it in his word.
The author chooses to stop there with the analysis. The reader has access to enough information in the links above to check the matter out for himself. He can also get the same information by studying the Bible, law, and history. “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2). “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27). The incorporated churches and the 501c3 churches have taken on another lover for worldly approval, help, direction, control, power and financial gain. If a church is both incorporated and 501c3, that church has taken on two other lovers and is doubly the adulteress. These actions grieve our Lord, the Bridegroom, Husband, and Head of the church. Ultimately, these actions result in the death of the adulterous, heretical, and apostate churches.
Note. This is a significantly revised version of Section II, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application.
The Coming Universal Church Will Reign with the Lord
Several so-called universal “churches” were instituted and built by those who did not honor the word of God. Those “churches” killed untold millions of what they deem to be heretics (many of whom were born-again believers who refused to bow down to the false religion-state) while leading multitudes to hell since the initiation of the first such “church” in the early fourth century. Nonetheless, true believers in Christ, even in martyrdom, have always rejoiced in exceeding gladness. They will become members of the universal visible church which will be established at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
As explained in the last article, no universal church exists on earth. Rather, unbiblical “ universal” religious organizations were organized by the god of this world: first the Catholic “church,” then the Protestant “churches,” and many religious offshoots from biblical heresies and apostasies. Due to a lack of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, some believers join or continue alongside the lost members of those organizations. Those believers are out of order. God’s desire is for them to seek out a local, autonomous, New Testament Church—i.e., a church which orders herself according to the principles of the New Testament. Only in such churches is the service of God in biblical order; and properly ordered New Testament churches have continuously existed since Jesus Christ ordained the institution of the church. Jesus said to Peter, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18).
In spite of the steady movement toward the foretold end time political and religious Babylon, true Christians have the ultimate hope: they will reign with the Lord. This should be a cause for great rejoicing as well as incentive to be responsible members of the body of Christ, to make sure that every effort is made to glorify God, and to assure that the individual, his family and the church he is a member of remains totally under Christ in every way.
The Holy Spirit is now calling out, not the subjects, but the co-heirs and co-rulers of the kingdom:
2 Ti. 2.11-12: “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us;”
Re. 1.6: “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen;”
Re. 3.21: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne;”
Re. 5.10: “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth;”
Ro. 8.15-18: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us;”
1 Co. 6.2-3: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?”
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mt. 5.10-12).
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (He. 12:22-24).
After this “Preface,” Finney will review (1) Did Roger Williams Start The First Baptist Church In America?Is the “Baptist Church the Bride of Christ? What About Landmarkism or the Baptist Church Succession Theory by Jim Fellure; and (2) Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance by Joshua S. Davenport. This preface will explain the importance of writing this review including important issues which are raised by Jim Fellure’s booklet and Finney’s belief as to which was the first Baptist church in America.
Jim Fellure wrote in Did Roger Williams Start the First Baptist Church In America? Is the “Baptist Church the Bride of Christ? What About Landmarkism or the Baptist Church Succession Theory: “Now brethren, please believe me when I say that it is not our intention to create contention and strife…. I will, however, as have historical Baptists, fight for one’s right to freedom of conscious, but I will also ‘earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.’” Jerald Finney, the reviewer, seconds that by writing this review because the truth and the Glory of God are preeminent. Our Lord has instructed believers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
Jim Fellure’s booklet started a debate in that it summarily deals with issues at the very heart of the faith which was once delivered to the saints. Joshua Davenport entered the debate and countered Brother Fellure with the publication of Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance.
The reviewer, Jerald Finney, attended the April 17-20, 2012 Baptist Heritage Revival Tour which was planned and executed by Evangelist Ted Alexander. A few days before he left for the tour, he came across a book he had in his library entitled Did Roger Williams Start the First Baptist Church In America? by Jim Fellure. Finney did not ask for or buy the book. Brother Fellure handed him a copy of the book in April, 2011 at a camp meeting, explaining that he did not realize that the publication of the book would start a firestorm. Perhaps reading the book just before attending the tour was a coincidence, or perhaps God wanted Finney to read it at that very time. At any rate, after reading the book, further study of relevant historical facts and consideration of biblical principles surrounding issues raised in the book was placed on his agenda. Fortunately, others, as he was to discover very soon, had already done and published such studies concerning, especially, Brother Fellure’s historical conclusions and the facts upon which he based those conclusions.
On the tour, Finney bought several books, two of which addressed the issue of which was the first Baptist church in America: Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance by Joshua S. Davenport and The First Baptist Church in America: Not Started by Roger Williams by J. R. Graves, first published in 1887. Finney read Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated on the tour bus. He later read The First Baptist Church in America: Not Started by Roger Williams. Brother Ted Alexander, the tour organizer and leader, did not ever address or discuss Brother Jim Fellure or his booklet, either to the entire group or to Finney individually.
Finney is always seeking truth on important issues relevant to the topic of separation of church and state. The subject of this book review is one which God has impressed upon him as a result of the above-mentioned events. In earnestly contending for the faith, Finney was compelled to write this review. As will become apparent as one reads this review, the issues raised by the search to find out which was the first Baptist church started in America are extremely important both doctrinally and historically. An open-minded honest search for truth in the matter should be the goal. Finney has based his conclusions on the Bible and historical facts, nothing more. He knows both Jim Fellure and Joshua Davenport and loves them both. Brother Fellure has been a friend for many years. Finney has known Brother Davenport only a short time, but has grown to love him as well.
The first Baptist church in America was started by either Roger Williams at Providence, Rhode Island, or Dr. John Clarke at Newport, Rhode Island. Searching for the answer to the question as to which of these churches was first is of immense significance because Roger Williams, when he arrived in Rhode Island, was immersed by a man who was not only himself unbaptized, unordained, and a member of no church; and then Williams, after being thus baptized and also being unordained except by the Anglican Church in England, baptized others and started what he temporarily called a Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. John Clarke was baptized and ordained a Baptist and started a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island.
Brother Fellure concludes, among other things, that Roger Williams started the first Baptist church in America at Providence, Rhode Island. Brother Davenport concludes that Dr. John Clarke started the first Baptist church in America at Newport, Rhode Island. Two questions are inherent in the debate: (1) Was the church Roger Williams started a Baptist church in name only? (2) Which church was started first?
In answering the question of whether the church Roger Williams started was a Baptist church, other very important questions are implicated:
(1) Have the gates of hell prevailed against Christ’s church such that there was no continual succession of true churches? In other words, were there time periods in history since the beginning of New Testament churches during which no true churches existed?
(2) Are all so-called churches valid and biblically ordered, according to God and the Bible? If not, which churches are biblically valid and ordered? Is there a biblical order for the planting of a local church? If so, what is that order?
(3) Does the Bible teach an order for the ordination of pastors? For example, is it within God’s perfect will for a man to ordain himself? Is it within God’s perfect will for an unbaptized, unordained person to baptize and/or ordain another man? Is mail order ordination valid and/or within God’s perfect will? (4) Is an ordination valid if administered by a man who believes that there is no biblical order for ordination?
(5) Is an ordination valid if conducted by some who were biblically ordained and baptized and some who were not (if there is a biblical order for ordination and baptism)?
(6) Did God set up a biblical order for baptism? Can a man who was unordained and unbaptized be baptized by an unordained, unbaptized man then administer valid baptism to others and form a biblically ordered church? Quoting from The First Baptist Church in America: Not started by Roger Williams by J. R. Graves:
“Suppose a person, baptized by a man, who takes upon himself to preach the gospel, and proceeds to administer the ordinances without a regular call or ordination from any church, whether the person so baptized may be admitted into any orderly church—yea or nay?”
Can a person get saved, have a friend baptize him, baptize that person and others, and from that group form and pastor a biblically ordered church? Can an unsaved person have a friend baptize him, baptize that person and others, and from that group form and pastor a biblically ordered church?
(7) Can orderly ordinances come from disorderly ones (if there is a biblical order for ordinances)?
(8) Can orderly churches be planted by a disorderly church (if there is a biblical order for churches)?
(9) Does the Bible teach that God established both a universal invisible church and local autonomous churches (assemblies), or does the Bible teach the concept of the institution of the church and local autonomous churches?
(10) What are the true historical facts concerning the formation of the church in Providence by Roger Williams, Roger Williams’ view of the validity of that church, and the subsequent history of that church?
(11) What are the historical facts concerning the formation of the Baptist church at Newport and the subsequent history of that church?
Of course, some facts about history are subject to debate, and sometimes one cannot prove a fact or issue by a preponderance of the evidence, by clear and convincing evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt (the highest standard in the legal system). The only way one can know some facts beyond all doubt is by being a witness. Sometimes, even then, one cannot know the truth for sure. One can correctly understand biblical principles but still be misled (1) by inaccurate facts, facts taken out of context, only some of the facts, or by a distortion of true facts; (2) by failing to look at all arguments (unless one looks at all facts and arguments, he definitely is in danger of coming to the wrong conclusion(s)); (3) or by failing to apply the true principles in the Word of God to the facts.
Finney is always open-minded on any issue and will consider all facts, doctrines, and positions in reaching his conclusions. After reading the books which are the subject of this review, having already built a sound foundation in the religious history of the colonies through thousands of hours of study, Finney is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Dr. John Clarke started the first Baptist Church in America. His conclusion is based upon facts and biblical principles. Furthermore, this question of who started the first Baptist church in America can be answered without resort to a reference to the Baptist Bride, Landmark, or Baptist church succession beliefs. Finney has not studied the Baptist Bride, Church succession, or Landmark positions, although he believes that the Bible teaches a continuing succession of true New Testament churches; in other words, by faith alone Finney believes in such a succession. He also believes that many facts, both circumstantial and concrete, demonstrate that there has never been a time in history that New Testament churches and the institution of the church (as opposed to false or non-New Testament churches and false institutions which label themselves “churches” and “the church”) since ordained by the Lord Jesus were non-existent. Finney believes Christ’s promise that the “gates of hell will not prevail against his church [that is, when correctly and contextually interpreted, the institution of the church and his local churches].”
Did Roger Williams Start The First Baptist Church In America? Is the “Baptist Church the Bride of Christ? What About Landmarkism or the Baptist Church Succession Theory? by Jim Fellure
The title and subtitle to Brother Fellure’s booklet present not only one, but three, very important questions for a serious student of history and the Word of God. Does Brother Fellure successfully and convincingly answer the primary and secondary questions presented in his short, 22 page, double-spaced pamphlet? Is it necessary to address the sub-questions in order to answer the primary question?
Two important questions in the debate over which was the first Baptist church in America are:
(1) Was Roger Williams qualified to start a Baptist church or, put another way, was the church he started Baptist?
(2) Did Roger Williams start the church in Providence before John Clarke started the church in Newport?
The first question is important because Roger Williams was not ordained in a Baptist church (he was only ordained as an Anglican) and because of the order of his baptism. Williams was baptized by one of the men who joined him in Rhode Island. Williams then baptized that man and the others who became part of the church he started.
Concerning question 1 above, Brother Fellure concluded in his booklet that the church Roger Williams started was Baptist. He certainly did not biblically support that conclusion in any way except through explicit or implicit assertions such as: “Just trust me since I have studied these matters;” “You certainly can’t rationally believe otherwise because anyone who is saved is a member of the universal invisible church;” and “as a saved person, one is qualified to baptize.” Furthermore, he most likely understands that his short and perfunctory defense of the “universal invisible church” position and his selective references to the Baptist Bride position and Landmarkism or Baptist Church Succession theory and his conclusions based thereon are in no way adequate to convince a serious student of history and the Word of God.
He asserts that opposition to his conclusions on these matters “has come from those who follow the Baptist Bride, Landmark, or the Baptist Church Succession philosophy.” However, those are not the only sources of opposition. Interestingly, among those who opposed Fellure’s conclusions concerning the authenticity of the church Williams started, as a matter of historical fact, was Roger Williams himself who made known his belief that the church was not authentic and withdrew therefrom a few weeks after starting it, as pointed out in many reliable historical works including the opposing work which is the subject of this review. This reviewer is among many who are not Baptist Briders, Landmarkers, or per se Baptist Successionists who are convinced that Brother Fellure’s conclusions are wrong. Brother Fellure also has asserted that James Beller, a pastor who opposes his view that Roger Williams started the First Baptist Church in America, is a “Brider.” Brother Beller wrote an open letter and published it over the internet. In that letter, Brother Beller replies to certain assertions made by Brother Fellure. See En4 for the entire letter and the online link.
Brother Fellure’s analysis indicates that he believes that any baptism by a saved person, and even a baptism by an unsaved man, may be valid; perhaps he does not believe the latter, but if not, he needs to make clear what he believes concerning that issue and why. He also needs to give some convincing biblical reasoning to support his belief that one who is saved, yet unbaptized, can perform a biblically acceptable baptism. He quotes a few verses and states some conclusions and selected facts concerning baptism, ordination, the church, and other doctrines but does not give the issue and his conclusions anywhere near the degree of analysis needed to support his positions.
As to question 2, Brother Fellure concludes that Roger Williams started the church in Providence before Dr. John Clarke started the church at Newport. Even if one assumes or concludes, as does Brother Fellure, that the answer to question 1 above is that Williams was qualified to start a Baptist church, historical facts which are available from various sources and which are presented in Joshua Davenport’s book which is reviewed below prove that Clarke started the Newport church before Williams started the Providence church. Fellure states on page 14 of his booklet:
“[O]ut of all the books and documents I have read, I have not found one historical record stating Dr. John Clarke started any Baptist church before 1644. Some historians claim 1639 as the most probable date, but all records I have found agree Roger Williams did start the First Baptist Church in America.”
That statement alone totally discredits his analysis and proves that he is not qualified to write on the subject. There are many historical records which refute the conclusion that Roger Williams started the church in Providence before Dr. John Clarke started the Baptist church at Newport. In other words, Brother Fellure was not qualified to comment on the issue because, by his own admission as applied to all the facts, he did not know of and consider all the facts.
Brother Fellure not only fails to consider all the historical facts concerning the issue of who started the first Baptist church in America, he also, within this 22 page, 5 ¼ by 8 ½ inch double spaced book, addresses many other matters. 22 double spaced pages are woefully inadequate for such a task. In 22 short pages, Brother Fellure, among other things:
attempts to discredit the followers of Baptist Bride, Landmark or Baptist Church succession “philosophies” who opposed his position that Roger Williams started the first Baptist church in America, proclaiming that their conclusions are guided by ulterior motives only. This was completely off point and unnecessary and to have any credibility would require a very voluminous and painstaking study and written refutation and not a few paragraphs interspersed within a very short, 22 page book;
attempts to discredit the history utilized by the Baptist Succession theory (the author in his own studies has encountered facts which would refute some of Fellure’s cursory historical assertions about Baptist Succession);
attempts to explain some parts of his version of the biblical doctrine of the church. The universal church doctrine of the Catholic and Protestant churches may not be the same as Brother Fellure’s version in all respects, but understanding and explaining any version of the doctrine requires a lot more than a few paragraphs out of a 22 page pamphlet. He summarily describes his versions of both a universal invisible church versus local autonomous New Testament churches. All these matters have been painstakingly analyzed by serious students of the Word over the centuries. Brother Fellure does a disservice to the cause of Christ in this ill-conceived effort. Serious biblical study (perhaps aided by the study of relevant scholarly works) would be required for a believer to arrive at correct conclusions concerning the issues he raises.
To comprehensively address the universal invisible church theory would be a voluminous undertaking, but one of Brother Fellure’s statements will be summarily addressed. On page 4, he writes:
“Where Victory Baptist Press differs with such a philosophy is that out of the fifteen times the word ‘Baptist’ is used in the Bible, it is always referring to John, the man who was baptizing, and there is no indication John was starting a church, and when Jesus said ‘upon this rock I will build my church…’ (Matthew 16.18), He was not referring to a local Baptist Church, He was referring to the ‘church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven…’ (Hebrews 12:23). ‘…written is heaven’ is a very interesting phrase. It would be hard to support the idea that God will wait until a saved person is baptized in water by a ‘qualified Baptist’ to write their name in heaven.”
The reviewer agrees that when one is saved, his name is written in the “book of life.” However, please notice that Brother Fellure makes a quantum leap in his statement in the above paragraph in his supposed identification of the church Jesus was referring to in Matthew 16.18. He quotes one verse, Hebrews 12.23, to make his point, but he does not refer to any context. Hebrews 12.22-24, which includes the immediate contest of Hebrews 12.23, states:
“22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinking, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”
Clearly, “the church of the firstborn” spoken of in verse 23 exists at the time of “the city of the living God and the heavenly Jerusalem,” and in the presence of “an innumerable company of angels” (see verse 22). Historic Baptists have never believed that a universal visible or invisible church, a city of God and the Kingdom operate at present. From what he says in his booklet, it appears that Brother Fellure, at least to some degree, agrees with Catholic and Protestant doctrines of the church; while necessarily disagreeing with the historical Baptist and biblical position. Finney believes that not only the verses surrounding Hebrews 12.23, but also all verses in the New Testament which deal with the doctrine of the church, disprove his version of “church of the firstborn,” and“universal invisible church.” For example, the Lord Jesus stood among the seven golden candlesticks and wrote a message to each. (See Revelation 1.9-3.22; those “candlesticks” are local churches, not a universal invisible church (Revelation 1.20). That said, the reviewer knows that this brief review is no more adequate to explain the doctrine of the church than are the few paragraphs in Brother Fellure’s booklet, but a few insights are appropriate.)
Furthermore, the name “Baptist” is just an identifier used by many Baptist authors to refer to those churches, although not always called “Baptist,” which, since the time of Christ, held to, at all costs, certain principles which have been called “Baptist distinctives.”
For the last ten years, the reviewer has done and continues to do extensive biblical studies and, during the course of those studies, has pondered upon on the doctrine of the church. He agrees with Pastor Jason Cooley that the New Testament speaks of no “true” church (as it is called by C. I. Scofield), or “universal invisible (or visible) church” terms adopted by Catholicism, Protestantism, and by many modern churches including so-called Fundamental Independent Baptist churches. When the Bible speaks of “the church,” it is referring to the institution of the church which consists of all local autonomous assemblies in which born again believers are instructed to be baptized, to be added to the institution of the church (in a local autonomous assembly), to observe the Lord’s supper, and to exercise their God-given gifts as they glorify God by growing in spiritual knowledge and obeying and following the Lord Jesus Christ and his precepts.
In other words, when the New Testament refers to “the church,” it is referring to the institution of the church. Can a universal visible or invisible church have a pastor, teachers, etc. who are functioning? How can they function as an all-encompassing visible or invisible institution? Are the local churches then subject to or part of an alleged “universal visible or invisible church?” If so, how can that be since the Bible in no way explains the organization, methods, jurisdiction, etc. of such such a universal institution—only local autonomous churches? Does God desire that a person be saved and remain only in a universal church and not a local autonomous New Testament church? Is it within God’s perfect will for a person to be saved and then to become, or remain, a member of a spiritual harlot who claims to be a church (but only God can remove a candlestick, but he has warned that He will do so in some cases) or even a non-New Testament church? Of course, there are no perfect churches, but one can glean principles from the Bible to guide him in his search for a New Testament church or to help him disciple new converts on finding and joining with a New Testament church and many other important matters. Is it God’s will for one, in his attempts to lead others to the Lord, to state, “I am not concerned about which church you attend. I am only concerned about your eternal salvation”?
The questions and insights in the preceding paragraph are very important because one must believe in some type of “universal church” in order to buy the conclusion that Roger Williams started a Baptist church. Finney believes that “universal church” doctrine makes no sense biblically or in reality.
(4) states (notice, in relation to local autonomous churches), “If a Church is found today believing and practicing the same thing the churches believed and practiced 2000 years ago, I would not assume they were linked to each other through an unbroken chain of Baptist Church Succession. My assumption would be that both churches had been influenced by the truths of the same Book.” Must one’s conclusion on this matter be based upon Jim Fellure’s or any other person’s assumption? One can be influenced by the truths of the Bible but still be in error on any number of biblical doctrines. How much does a church have to be “influenced” by the truths of the Bible to be either within or outside the will of God as to organization, practice, methodology, etc.? In examining whether a church believes and practices the same thing the churches believed and practiced 2000 years ago, one must answer many questions such as:
(a) What was the New Testament model for planting a church? What New Testament church was first started by an unordained man who was baptized by another unordained unbaptized man, and who then baptized that man and others and formed a church which believed and practiced the things a New Testament church was to believe and practice?
(b) What is to be the biblically acceptable motive of church members for giving: one’s love for God or for some other reason such as, partially or wholly, a tax deduction? Biblically, to whom are tithes and offerings given: to the Lord Jesus Christ for His purposes or to, for example, a non-profit, incorporated, 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization? Is the church (which is the body made up of individual members) the giver or the receiver?
(c) What is the biblically correct view of pastoral leadership?
(d) What about the exercise of gifts by members of the local church body? Certainly exercise of such gifts cannot take place in an invisible organization; the exercise must be in a local assembly.
(e) What is the role of deacons? What place would deacons have in an invisible body?
(f) What is the biblical order, if any, concerning, for example, ordination, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the marriage of a man and a woman, the marriage of Christ and His church, etc.?
(g) What about the doctrine of separation including separation of church and state? All New Testament churches in the Bible and thereafter have believed in and practiced separation of church and state. Is a church which combines with state through incorporation and/or through 501(c)(3) tax exempt status practicing the same thing the churches believed and practiced 2000 years ago?
(h) What are the biblical principles for organization of a church?
(i) Is there a biblical order concerning the methods practiced by a church? For example, is it within God’s perfect will for a church to utilize business and/or worldly methods which conflict with the methodology laid out in the Bible in reaching its goals? To what extent?
(5) raises the issue of the definition of a Baptist church.
(6) raises the issue of whether the Baptist Bride, Landmark, and Baptist Church Succession theories are true. Can this debate be decided upon biblical teaching and/or facts? Does one have to trash the Baptist Bride position, Landmarkism, and the belief in church Succession to prove that Roger Williams started the First Baptist church in America?
(7) raises the issue of whether there is a proper order for churches, baptism, ordination, etc. What should a church do should she, from a study of Scripture, decide that she is not biblically ordered? See Endnotes 1 and 2 examples of what some churches have done if out of order as to ordination and baptism. (8) quotes from doctrinal statements of two Baptist churches who follow the “Baptist Bride of Baptist Church Succession” theory (pp. 2-3). He assumes that those brief statements will be sufficient to discredit those theories.
In addition to his conclusions about the “universal invisible church,” the Baptist Bride position and Landmarkism or the Baptist Succession theory which raise the above questions, Brother Fellure presents quotes from some records of history to support his position that Roger Williams started the church at Providence before Dr. John Clarke started the church at Newport. Finney, in his book God Betrayed (see pages 241-242) which was published in 2008, pointed out that the issue was factually disputed and that Dr. John Clarke may have started a Baptist church in Newport Rhode Island in 1838, but did not do further study on the issue at that time. That was written in the midst of a voluminous study of the issue of separation of church and state in which Finney came across, in the natural course of his studies, some disputed facts on the issue of which was the first Baptist church in America. Certainly one who has done a serious historical study of the facts would have come across at least some of those facts.
Brother Fellure states on page 20 of his booklet: “At Victory Press we have no intention of ‘revising’ history or reading into the historical records events that did not happen in order to promote our agenda,” yet he does just that plus more which is not in the interest of serious study in the name of Christ. This is a hard thing to say to a man the reviewer loves, but it is something that must be said. Brother Fellure’s booklet is a result of either a biased selection of facts or incomplete research. Now that Brother Davenport has published his reply, Brother Fellure has access to many facts which he did not consider when writing his book.
Brother Fellure is put on alert, by this review, of the folly of his offering. He states that his pamphlet is an “expanded edition;” but a study of his booklet by one who has some understanding of biblical doctrine and Baptist history reveals that he has bitten off more than he can chew in such a short publication. The task he assumes requires a treatise, not a tract. Whether he will do the research needed to uphold his conclusions and publish the results thereof remains to be seen. This reviewer believes that the Bible, history, and honesty render that an impossible task.
Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance by Pastor Joshua S. Davenport
Pastor Joshua Davenport’s book shows a keen understanding of the issue presented and its importance. He backs up his position that Dr. John Clarke founded the first Baptist church in America with studied facts and analyses. Davenport bases his conclusion that the Newport church started by Dr. John Clarke in 1638 was the first Baptist church in America on historical research and facts. His conclusions are enhanced by correctly recorded citations of the historical sources he relies upon. Many other sources could be cited to support Brother Davenport’s conclusion, but the reviewer does not expect that anyone has the time to cover all possible sources. Finney is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Baptist History IN AMERICA is correct factually and historically and proves that the church started by Dr. John Clarke in Newport, Rhode Island was the first Baptist church in America, even should one consider the church started by Roger Williams to be a Baptist church.
Brother Davenport does not address Landmarkism, the Baptist Bride theory, or Baptist Church succession, but “a matter of mere historical correctness and facts.” Like any good advocate who believes in the factual and doctrinal truth of his position on a very important issue, he considers some facts concerning Jim Fellure’s possible personal motivation for writing his booklet. Then he gives the four necessary categories of facts that need to be considered in order for the issue to be correctly understood. His well-documented facts are very persuasive in supporting his conclusion.
In addition to the facts, Davenport explains the importance of the issue and the importance of accurate facts. He correctly and with great insight points out that “Once one starts changing history, one changes who he is, where he came from and where he is going.” As he explains, (1) “Integrity for Historical Correctness is at Stake. (2) Proper Examples of Doctrinal Soundness is at Stake. In this section, Davenport gives his argument for a biblical order for baptism. (3) Regard for our Baptist Heritage and Identity is at Stake. (4) Historical Influence on American Principles is at Stake.” In this last section, Davenport declares something which Finney discovered himself after an intensive study over several years: “One cannot truly understand American history until he understands Baptist history.”
Finney, without equivocation, recommends that all true Baptists read and study Davenport’s jewel, Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance. This booklet is the kind of writing and teaching those seeking the truth of the matter need to read and digest, and the quality of writing that needs to come forth from one who is contending for the faith. From a foundation of intense study over many years, Finney attests to Davenport’s biblical, historical, and analytical acuity. See En3 for information on books by Jerald Finney.
En1. The following concerning ordination is from J. A. Shackelford, Compendium of Baptist History (Louisville, Kentucky: Press Baptist Book Concern, 1892 (Reprint), pp. 123-124. (Can be ordered from Local Church Bible Publishers):
“‘Commenius, who published a synopsis of the discipline of the churches of Bohemia, dwells particularly upon this article and shows that ‘a stated ministry was always considered as a matter of great importance among the Waldensean churches.’ A dreadful persecution broke out among the Bohemian brethren in the days of Commenius, which produced such havoc among them that he himself ‘was the only surviving bishop that escaped.’ The scattered brethren, in process of time, elected three persons as qualified for the pastoral office, but ‘found themselves greatly perplexed about their ordination.’
“‘Having understood that there were some Waldensean churches on the confines of Moravia and Austria, to satisfy their own scruples, as well as those of others, they resolved to send Michael Zambergius, one of their pastors, with two other persons to find out those Waldenses, and give them an account of what has passed among them, and especially to ask their advice upon the matter in hand. They met with one Stephen, a Waldensean bishop, who sent for others also residing in that quarter, with whom they had a conference upon the doctrines of the gospel, and the state of their churches, and by them the said three pastors were ordained by the imposition of hands. ‘Hence,’ says Dr. Allix, ‘it is abundantly evident, that as the Waldenses have preserved the faith that was committed to them, so have they been as careful to preserve entire among them the ancient discipline of the church.’
“These Waldensean brethren regarded regular ordination so much of importance, that they sent the three brethren some five or six hundred miles that they might be ‘examined upon the doctrines of the gospel,’ and receive ordination at the hands of a regularly ordained ministry. In this way have the pure doctrines of the gospel been preserved through all ages.”
En2. From the May 12 entry concerning baptism of This Day in Baptist History Past, “The Conversion of a Church”:
The Congregational church in Sedgwick, Maine, had enjoyed the ministry of the Reverend Danil Merrill for twelve years. During which time it became one of the largest of the denomination’s churches in the state. However, when several of his ministerial students became Baptists, the rev. Mr. Merrill determined to restudy the matter of baptism and write a book on the subject which would protect against such losses, and such a volume would be invaluable to many in refuting what he considered heresy taught by the Baptists. After more than two years of studying the scriptures he concluded that the Bible did not support his long-held position of sprinkling.
The matter came to a head when a group of children were presented to be sprinkled and the pastor could no longer with good conscience perform the rite. For several months Merrill continued in agony of heart for, as he confessed, he “could not bear the idea of being called one .
On February 28, 1805, after a series of sermons on the biblical mode of baptism, the congregation voted unanimously to call for a council of Baptist ministers to administer New Testament immersion, to constitute them as a Baptist church, and to ordain Daniel Merrill as their pastor. In all, sixty-six candidates were baptized on May 13, 1805, and nineteen more were baptized on the following day.
En3. Notice that two of Finney’s books listed below have already been fully reproduced on the “Separation of Church and State Law” website; links are included below. Also, God Betrayed has already been reproduced in audio form on the website, and much of the book is already reproduced, in written form, on the website. Soon, all the books will be in written form on the website. Finney is concerned with imparting truth, not with making money, in his God-called “Separation of Church and State Law” ministry. If one does not want to buy the books, but wishes to read them, he can do so at no cost.
1 / 3A Letter to Jim Fellure of Victory Baptist Press
March 13, 2011
Thank you for your time on the phone on March 3, 2011. I had called to clarify some things with you concerning the “Open Letter To Those Who have Questioned Our Stand On The Baptist Bride, Lankmarkism, or Baptist Church Succession Theory,” which was dated March 3, 2011. This email letter was sent to over 15,000 recipients and, as I shared with you, had references to me, describing me as a Baptist “brider.” In this you linked me with a group of people I do not represent. I mean no disrespect in this short answer and I believe you to be a good man, but I mean to try to set the record straight.
Even though I am not a part of this group, nor have I ever denominated myself as a “landmarker,” you painted me as such. As I mentioned on the phone, I would have wished you had contacted me before you painted me with such a broad brush. I will say that some of what is called “landmarkism” I embrace, as do a large number of independent Baptists. For instance, our church does not accept immersions for membership from any organization that has its roots in the Roman Catholic, or catholic Reformed. This is an ancient practice. We also believe in the local church as the only church found in the Bible. We also believe strongly that churches are to birth churches. We also, like many, many Baptists believe in the succession of principles. This was believed by Henry D’Anvers, Theilman Van Braght, Charles Spurgeon and the late David L. Cummins. This is nothing new. You seem to misunderstand both “brider” and “landmark” positions, mixing them together. I am going to answer your letter in detail at a latter time, but you promised me a retraction:
1. On page 2 you write:
“The Baptist Bible Fellowship, the Bible Baptist Fellowship, the World Baptist Fellowship, and the Independent Baptist Fellowship International can all trace their history back to Dr. J. Frank Norris, an ordained Southern Baptist pastor who left the SBC and promoted and influenced the independent, fundamental Baptist movement. Men such as Dr. John R. Rice, Dr. Jack Hyles, Dr. Lee Roberson, Dr. Harold Sightler, Dr. Shelton Smith, Lester Roloff and many others had their roots in the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention has its roots in the American Baptist Convention, which is linked back to Roger Williams and the First Baptist Church in America at Providence, Rhode, Island.“ It is a grievous error to claim “the independent, fundamental Baptist movement…had their roots in the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention has its roots in the American Baptist Convention, which is linked back to Roger Williams and the First Baptist Church in America at Providence, Rhode, Island.” ANY Baptist historian, Cathcart, Armitage, McBeth, etc. knows the SBC has its roots in the Separate Baptist Revival through Shubal Stearns. Stearns was baptized by Wait Palmer and the line of baptism does go back to Newport, Rhode Island. However, all that aside, you…
2. On page 3 state:
“The Landmark theory would teach that not one of the pastors mentioned previously, or the converts that were saved and baptized under their ministry, are legitimate Baptists, and none of them will be in the Bride of Christ.”
I know of no “landmarker” that believes this and even if they did, I don’t believe it and have never said such a thing. But you make me one of the number that would say this by…
3. Writing on page 3:
“Some writers that follow the Landmark theory have some great historical information. Examples of two of these mens’ books are, The Trail of Blood, by J. M. Carroll, which VBP prints and sells, and America in Crimson Red, by Brother James Beller which we sell in our bookstore.”
You have made me a companion of those you claim “would teach that not one of the pastors mentioned previously, or the converts that were saved and baptized under their ministry, are legitimate Baptists, and none of them will be in the Bride of Christ.”
I do not believe this, nor do I know of any “landmarker” who believes it either. You made me out to say things I have never said, nor believed.
Bro. Fellure, you said you would print a retraction, but instead you re-sent the same email letter on March 10 (even though it was still dated March 3). Is this a retraction?
Churches under Christ Ministry of Charity Baptist Tabernacle of Amarillo, Texas. A Christian Lawyer 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).