Tag Archives: church incorporation

A Call to Anguish: Churches Reject God’s Authority


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


Jerald Finney
Copyright © November 21, 2017


A Call to Anguish: Churches Reject God’s Authority

1God 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.

How far off base would civil government go in the definition of “church” as multitudes of organizations sought and continue to seek non-profit corporation and tax exempt status? Let us look at an illustration. “A New Religion Forms That Will Worship A ‘Godhead’ Based On AI” states in the introduction:

“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 1 gives 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.”

2In 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?

Listen to the powerful clip from sermon A Call to Anguish.

[For complete studies which cover all issues (such as the Ro. 13 issue, the incorporation issue, etc.) see the resources linked to in En 4.]

Endnotes

En 1 Churches Defined

“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 congregations
  • 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.

“Source:  Publication 1828, Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations.”

See DEFINING “CHURCH” – THE CONCEPT OF A CONGREGATION by Robert Louthian and Thomas Miller for a discussion of court application of the above criteria.

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”:

PARSHALL CHRISTIAN ORDER v. BOARD OF REVIEW, COUNTY OF MARION, 315 N.W.2d 798 (1982)(Supreme Court of Iowa)

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.

Ideal Life Church of Lake Elmo v. Washington County, 1981, 304 N.W.2d 308 (Supreme Court of Minnesota)

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.

In re Collection of Delinquent Real Property Taxes, State of MN v. American Fundamentalist Church, 1995, 530 N.W.2d 200 (S.Ct. Minnesota) rehearing denied

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.

FELLOWSHIP OF HUMANITY (a Nonprofit Corporation) v. COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, 153 Cal.App.2d 673 (California Court of Appeals. First Dist., Div. One1957)

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.”

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.

En 4 For further study for the interested believer:

·  Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses

·  The Biblical Doctrine of Government

·  The Biblical Doctrine of the Church

·  The Biblical Doctrine of Separation of Church and State

·  The History of the Religious Freedom in America

·  God Betrayed/Union of Church and State in America (covers church incorporation and 501c3 and 508 status, among other things)

·  Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities?

· The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/A Case of Premeditated Murder: Christian Revisionists on Trial

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 complete opinion may be accessed online by clicking here.

This case was appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. To go to my brief of that case click: 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 Wisconsin Supreme Court stated, in its opinion, that:

  • The court of appeals had no obligation to look beyond the issues raised by Bible Baptist, but had the discretion to do so. The “church” was organized as a trust. The principle issue which it in its discretion addressed was the circuit court’s conclusion that for a ‘church’ to claim a tax exemption, it must be incorporated under the laws of Wisconsin or another state. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin agreed with the conclusion of the appeals court that the church need not be incorporated to claim a tax exemption.The Court stated: “We need not reiterate the excellent discussion and analysis underpinning that conclusion that appears in the court of appeals opinion. 157 Wis. 2d at 539-49” [the citation for this case].

This page will look at only the circuit courts analysis that led to the conclusion that a church, which was organized as a trust, need not be incorporated to claim a tax exemption. The following excerpt is from  the opinion of the court of appeals, 157 Wis. 2d at 539-49, on that matter:

We hold only that the church was not required to show that it was incorporated as a religious society or corporation under ch. 187, Stats., or otherwise, to establish that its property is exempt from taxation under sec. 70.11(4).

[2]

We recognize that “[o]ne who seeks to have his property exempt from taxation is required to bring himself within the terms of the exemption statute…. The taxpayer has the burden of demonstrating that it is entitled to tax-exempt status…. This is especially true in situations where, as here, there is a great potential for abuse because a church is controlled by an individual, a family or a small group of individuals. Id. The church must come forward with candid disclosure of the facts bearing on the exemption application. Id. What the ninth circuit said with respect to the Church of Scientology’s request for exemption from income tax under sec. 501(c)(3), I.R.C., is equally applicable to the Basic Bible Church’s claim of exemption under sec. 70.11(4), Stats. However, the county, on appeal, does not argue that the church has not brought itself within sec. 70.11(4), Stats., except for the insufficiency of its organization.

We turn therefore to the issue of whether the Basic Bible Church was required to show that it was incorporated to establish that it was an “entity” which could claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4), Stats. The statute does not impose the requirement. Ordinarily, this finding would end the case. A combination of factors, however, creates an ambiguity which persuaded the circuit court that to be exempt from taxation under sec. 70.11(4), a church or religious association must be an incorporated entity.

[3]

The first factor is the church’s failure to take formal action under state or federal law to “charter” the church. The court cited ch. 187, Stats., and I.R.C. sec. 501(c)(3). Ambiguity may be created by the interaction of separate statutes. State v. Kenyon, 85 Wis. 2d 36, 49, 270 N.W.2d 160, 166 (1978).

The second factor is the church’s failure to seek exemption from federal income tax under I.R.C. sec. 501(c)(3). Section 501(c)(3), I.R.C., however, does not provide for the incorporation or chartering of churches or religious organizations. Tax exemption thereunder is limited to a corporation, community chest, fund, or foundation. The Basic Bible Church does not claim it qualifies as one of the enumerated organizations. No significance can be attached to the church’s failure to seek tax exemption under I.R.C. sec. 501(c)(3).

The final factor is the decision in In re Zarling, 70 Bankr. 402 (Bankr. E.D. Wis. 1987). In Zarling, the court voided a transfer by the debtor of his interest in his farm to the Universal Life Church Charter No. 22406. The court found that the transfer was fraudulent. The court held that because a certificate acknowledging the existence of the Church as a corporation was not filed pursuant to secs. 187.01(2) or 187.09, Stats., prior to the conveyance, the Church-grantee was “a non-existent entity.” The court’s holding must be viewed in context. The debtor, Zarling, filed a certificate of incorporation under sec. 187.09 five years after the transfer, and attempted to make the filing “nunc pro tunc” the transfer. If Zarling is limited to its holding that the filing did not incorporate the Church “nunc pro tunc,” it is good law. To the extent that the decision declares all unincorporated churches or unincorporated religious associations “non-existent entit[ies],” we reject it.

We conclude, however, that these factors are sufficient to make it uncertain whether a church or religious organization must be incorporated for its property to be exempt under sec. 70.11(4), Stats. We therefore examine the legislative history of the pertinent statutes. “One of the most valuable extrinsic aids of judicial construction is legislative history.” [Citations omitted}.

The first exemption from taxation of the property of churches and religious organizations appears in sec. 24, ch. 47, Revised Statutes of 1849. Chapter 47 prescribed the procedure by which persons belonging to a church congregation or religious society, “not already incorporated,” could incorporate. Section 24 exempted from taxation every church, parsonage and schoolhouse belonging to any religious society, with the land belonging thereto, not to exceed three acres in any one town, village or township, or one city lot. The exemption was not limited to religious societies incorporated under ch. 47.

Chapter 130, Laws of 1868, provided for the assessment of property for taxation and for exemptions therefrom. Section 2, 3d exempted “[p]ersonal property owned by any religious, scientific, literary or benevolent association, used exclusively for the purposes of such association, and the real property necessary for the location and convenience of the buildings of such association . . . not exceeding ten acres. . . .” Chapter 130 did not define “association.”

Section 2 of ch. 130, Laws of 1868, was incorporated, without substantial change, in sec. 1038, subd. 3, Wisconsin Statutes of 1898. Section 1038, subd. 3 was renumbered sec. 70.11(4), Stats., by sec. 16, ch. 69, Laws of 1921. Throughout its history, the exemption from taxation of property of churches and religious associations has been accorded in substantially the same language. No “linkage” has existed between the exemption statutes and those affecting the organization of churches and religious associations or societies.

Chapter 411, Laws of 1876, provided for the incorporation of religious societies. Apparently this act replaced ch. 47 of the revised statutes of 1849. Chapter 411 is silent as to the taxation or exemption of the property of religious societies incorporated thereunder.

The procedures for the incorporation of religious societies were included in ch. 91, Revised Statutes of 1878. Nash’s Wisconsin Annotations (1914), sec. 1990, ch. 91 at 753, states:

The revisers of 1878 in their note said: “Chapter 411, 1876, is taken to have been intended as a revision of the law for the incorporation of religious societies. The privilege of organizing a corporation is extended to all classes and denominations, it not being supposed the law means to be intolerant of any religious belief or to be partial in its offer of privileges.”

The same annotation at page 755 states:

“Church” and “Congregation.” A church 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, not the legal one. But a religious society or congregation, under the statute, is a voluntary association of persons, generally but not necessarily in connection with a church proper, united for the purpose of having a common place of worship and to provide a proper teacher to instruct them in doctrines and duties, etc. [Citations omitted.]

Thus, the legislature distinguished a church, as the spiritual body, from a religious society, incorporated under the statute, as the legal body of a voluntary association of persons united for religious purposes.

Decisions interpreting ch. 91, Revised Statutes of 1878, make plain that failure of a church or religious organization to incorporate thereunder did not affect the power of the church or religious organization to hold title to property.Under the repeated decisions of this court, 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). The county does not claim that the trust pursuant to which the subject property was conveyed to Sherri L. Graf and Barbara J. Pogue as trustees for the church is invalid.

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 said that the power given to trustees of a religious corporation formed under ch. 91, R.S. 1878, was limited to the particular purposes expressly or impliedly named in the act of incorporation. The court further said that “[w]hat has been said is in harmony with the law regarding trusts for religious useswhether the trustees be officers of a religious corporation or of an unincorporated ecclesiastical body. . . .” Id. at 131-32, 81 N.W. at 1019 (emphasis added).

It is plain from these decisions that the court did not consider that the legislature, by offering to ecclesiastical bodies the advantages of incorporation, intended to impose corporate structure upon such bodies. The property of unincorporated ecclesiastical bodies was commonly held in trust for the benefit of the members.

[4]

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. We further conclude that the legislative history of the pertinent statutes does not disclose a legislative intent to require that a church or religious association be incorporated before it may claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4).

By the Court.—Judgment reversed.

 

 

 

 

Will Churches in America Have a Choice about Sodomite Marriage: A short critique of the article “Christian schools will have no choice about gay marriage: Column” as it relates to churches

Michael Farris
Michael Farris

Equality Act Creates LGBT Rights Everywhere! (102315)(Revealed: LGBT Nuclear Bomb Against Churches – Will apply to state churches, such as incorporated 501c3 churches, only. The article  below explains how this applies to state churches, but not to New Testament churches.)

Virginia Passes Legislation Forcing Churches to Allow “Transgender” Males into Women’s Bathrooms(04720)(Of course, this will be contested in court. Regardless of the outcome of such contest(s), keep in mind that the established church (incorporated, 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(1)(A) churches have voluntarily given up much of their First Amendment protections and placed themselves under the 14th Amendment for many purposes. Churches who choose to remain under the First Amendment for all purposes are not subject to state legislation. Contact this Churches under Christ Ministry for more information.)

Cross dressing Teachers in “Christian” Schools in Virginia?
Questions Answered Regarding the Article “Liberty Counsel: New VA LGBTQ Bill Would Mean Baptist Schools Can’t Fire Cross-Dressing Teachers

Jerald Finney
Copyright © May 23, 2015

A new article was just posted:

The article, “Christian schools will have no choice about gay marriage: Column,” again puts the ignorance of “Christians” on display. The author of the article, Michael Farris, laments the fact that the United States Supreme Court is posed to deny 501(c)(3) status to Christian colleges and even to churches which oppose same-sex “marriage” (Actually, any union outside that of a male and a female is not marriage. See Jerald Finney’s letter on the webpage “The Sodomite Agenda, Religious Organizations, And Government Tyranny.”). I limit this reply to that article to churches only, even though I could say much about so-called “Christian” schools and institutions of higher learning.

6The author of the article, Michael Farris, is a good lawyer who has done much for the cause of homeschooling in America; but his article reveals that he, like most American “Christians,”  has no clue as to the important Bible doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state and their application in America (See the first three sections of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is available free in both online and PDF form. The first three sections of the online version are updated. One may study the website Separation of Church and State Law for articles, books and other resources concerning the issue of church organization.). Nor does he understand church incorporation law or Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) as applied to churches.

Farris does not understand that churches who incorporate, get 501(c)(3) status, or become legal entities in any way have grieved our Lord by combining church and state (See section VI of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application). Believers should have realized this long ago and should have shunned any type combination with the state. When a church in America incorporates and/or claims either 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) status, she has subjected herself to a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ. That is a gross violation of New Testament church doctrine. For more understanding of Internal Revenue Code Section 508(c)(1)(A) status see Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status.

In the article, Farris states:

“Christian colleges and churches need to get prepared. We must decide which is more important to us — our tax exemption or our religious convictions. Keep in mind, it is not the idea that the college itself might have to pay taxes that is the threat. Schools like Patrick Henry College, which I started, never run much of a profit. But since PHC refuses all government aid, all of our donations for scholarships and buildings come from tax deductible gifts. Cutting off that stream of revenue is effectively the end of such colleges absent a team of donors who simply don’t care if gifts are deductible.” [Bold red emphasis added]

Had the convictions of churches in America concerning the relationship of church and state been based upon Bible principles instead of misguided “convictions,” no church in America would have ever incorporated, applied for 501(c)(3) status or become a legal entity in any way; they would have all maintained their First Amendment status thereby remaining under God only. By the way, the First Amendment implements into the highest law of the land the principle of separation of church and state (See The History of the First Amendment or An Abridged History of the First Amendment; Is Separation Of Church And State Found In The Constitution? See also, The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus which explains not only the history of the First Amendment but also Christian and Secular revisonist history.)

Mr. Farris’ article points out something that I have pointed out for many years. He states:

“Keep in mind, it is not the idea that the college itself might have to pay taxes that is the threat. Schools like Patrick Henry College, which I started, never run much of a profit. But since PHC refuses all government aid, all of our donations for scholarships and buildings come from tax deductible gifts. Cutting off that stream of revenue is effectively the end of such colleges absent a team of donors who simply don’t care if gifts are deductible.”

5

One will find on the Partrick Henry College website the following statement:

Patrick Henry College is a not-for-profit corporation created and authorized to operate under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, the College is a qualified charitable institution and contributions to PHC are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Patrick Henry College, like incorporated churches, is a creature of the state. The state of Virginia created the corporation and authorizes her to operate under and according to the laws of Virginia, not under the laws of God. PHC is further controlled by the federal government by the rules and regulations that go along with 501(c)(3) status. More rules can be added as shown in Bob Jones University, 461 U.S. 574; 103 S. Ct. 2017; 76 L. Ed. 2d 157; 1983 U.S. LEXIS 36; 51 U.S.L.W. 4593; 83-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P9366; 52 A.F.T.R.2d (RIA) 5001 (1983)(See pp. 386-388 of God Betrayed for an analysis of Bob Jones University). The college has turned to the state of Virginia and the federal government, specifically the Internal Revenue Service, for aid. The aid comes in the form of gifts given by donors who claim tax deductions for their gifts. People give for a tax deduction, not for the glory of God. In return for state aid, the non-profit 501(c)(3) organization agrees to abide by the rules and regulations, present and future, set unilaterally by their benefactor. Therefore, the statement that Patrick Henry College refuses all government aid is patently false. Churches who become non-profit corporate religious organizations and/or claim 501(c)(3) status have turned to state and the federal government for financial aid.

Churches who are not non-profit 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt religious organizations are not concerned about being taxed because they are non-taxable if they are correctly organized as spiritual entities only and have as their goal the glory of God. Furthermore, the First Amendment protects the non-legal status of New Testament  churches. 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.”

Those churches who become legal entities place themselves under the Fourteenth Amendment for many purposes. The First Amendment guarantees that no church has to incorporate or place themselves under the rules of 501(c)(3). See, Does God and/or Civil Government Require Churches to Get 501(c)(3) Status?. One big change for a church who takes 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) status is that the church becomes “tax exempt” as opposed to non-taxable; they place themselves under Internal Revenue Code Sections 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A), laws made by Congress (notice that the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting….”) and signed by the President. Before they do that, if they are not some type of legal entity such as a non-profit corporation, they are wholly protected by the First Amendment and are free to exercise their “religion” in conformity to New Testament principles.

Churches can make no profit if operated according to the principles of the New Testament. Without profit there are no taxes anyway. Even a business (something entirely different from a New Testament church but very like most American state churches) pays no taxes if it makes no profit. It is interesting that most American churches today are run like businesses, not like New Testament churches. That was another inevitable result of ordering a church according to the precepts of man, not those of God. Most are glorified social clubs or nightclubs. They are really businesses which pay no taxes because they call themselves churches and organize under state non-profit incorporation law.

What churches which become legal entities are really concerned about, since there is no need to worry about being taxed, is maximizing donations. They believed, after section 501(c)(3) was added to the Internal Revenue Code, that they would get more donations from people who were more concerned about getting a tax deduction than they were about glorifying God by honoring His precepts, from those whose motivation for giving was American “practicality” and not God’s pleasure. You see, God’s precepts often do not seem practical to most American believers. Churches cannot afford to operate the way they want without bringing in huge amounts of money and they cannot bring in that type of money through the tithes and offerings of born-again believers each of whom loves the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength because most of their members do not fit that description and would not tolerate teaching, preaching, and practice of all Bible doctrines. I explain all this and more in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application and in other articles and teachings on the Separation of Church and State Law website-see Section VI of God Betrayed for a thorough study of the relevant law.

The inevitable results of  proceeding without biblical knowledge, understanding, and wisdom are now coming to fruition, and the vast majority of American “Christians” are in panic mode. They fear man more than they fear God. It is a good thing for them to be in panic mode. Maybe some of them will, as a last resort, wake up and study the word of God, repent, and reorder their churches.

The June 2010 article Preaching on Sodomy in a Hate Crime Atmosphere explained what a both state churches (a church organized as a legal entity) and New Testament churches must do when they take issue with the civil government.

Endnote

I must mention that I believe that God has preserved his word in English. Since all English versions differ, and since there can only be one word of God, which English version is God’s word? One must answer this question or he has no Bible and no authority.

See the Separation of Church and State Law website and the newly launched website abibletrust.com for help with New Testament church organization.

For more information on incorporation of church see:

  1. Church corporate 501(c)(3) status: Union of church and state
  2. Corporation: A human being without a soul

To learn more about the church 501(c)(3) education control scheme specifically see:

  1. Federal government control of churches through 501(c)(3) tax exemption (Section VI, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed; Chapter 4 of Separation of Church and State)
  2. The church incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme (Section VI, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed; Chapter 5 of Separation of Church and State)

END

The Sodomite Agenda, Religious Organizations and Government Tyranny

I Pledge Allegiance to God and His Kingdom, Not to America

The Proper Response by believers and churches to Obergefell, the United States Supreme Court same sex marriage decision (063010)

The Republican Response to Obergefell – Wrong!!!!!! (070715)

The Hierarchy of Law as it relates to sodomy and sodomite marriage (060115)

Preaching on Sodomy in a Hate Crime Atmosphere (06_10)

Judge’s Ruling on the State Street Baptist Church

By William Raymond: pastor & ambassador for the Christ
www.thechurchatSalem.info

Of all the examples I know – and there are more than you might think – none other states more clearly within the law the extremity of change which a church undergoes when she freely elects to incorporate Christ under the state than the case of this “once a church under Christ now a corporation under Caesar” known as the State Street Baptist Church. However, she is not alone. Sadly, the State Street Baptist Corporation shares her fate with thousands of other such legal entities in America today who have traded their holy birthright in Christ for a mess of corporate pottage. It just so happens that in this particular case the judge chose to use language that only a third grader or retarded adult could misunderstand in order to make his point. It’s really that clear.
No less hideous or spiritually grotesque than a Frankenstein monster, the body of Christ becomes legally trans-mutated into what is known in law as an artificial person when her primary identity becomes fixed in the secular (anti-Christ) state through the process of incorporation. Whether you like it or not, this is simply the unbiased truth about corporate religion and the reason why it is such a putrid stench in the nostrils of our Righteous and Holy God, Jesus the Christ.
All churches, mosques, temples, denominations, religions and even witches covens – regardless of their beliefs – for all legal purposes become One under the Beast via the process of incorporation; and for all practical purposes become united possessing equal status under law as common members of the official state church. Let that one sink in for a minute! Consequently, Christ cannot remain Lord over any such reprobate body after they have incorporated – the law will simply not permit it! And while you may believe most sincerely to the contrary, I can assure you, should your incorporated pastor ever go before the magistrate, he will bow in submission, for his contract – his unholy coven with the Beast – has obligated him to do so.
As I said earlier, the decision handed down by the appeals judge in the State Street Baptist Church case says it probably better than any other court ruling I’ve seen. So here’s the history: The church was establishment during the Civil War era and operated as such until 1980 when they decided to incorporate under the state as a 501 (c) (3) religious corporation. Afterwards, when some members attempted to schedule a business meeting others objected and a feud over notification procedures for meetings arose. And so, unable to settle matters between themselves, they simply did like all good corporationists do – they filed a law suit against their church brothers and let Caesar rule the matter. Here, in the case titledHollins v. Edmonds, is what the appeals judge  ruled in clear, unambiguous and full disclosure for all the world to know and understand.
“The business of the church was conducted in a rather informal manner in accordance with its customs. Although this kind of conduct might be suited to church tradition, it does not comply with the requirements of the statutes regarding nonprofit corporations. As the trial judge phrased it — once the church determined to enter the realm of Caesar by forming a corporation, it was required to abide by the rules of Caesar, or in this case, the statutes of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
 
“It is the general holding of this court that those organizations choosing to incorporate under the requirements of Chapter 273 must comply with the requirements of the law. Specifically, we hold that the statute requires that written notice of meetings be given to members of the corporation and that bylaws must be adopted.” Hollins v. Edmonds, 616 S.W.2d 801, (1981).
As I said before, after reading the judges ruling here and in other similar cases, anyone who doesn’t understand that Caesarand not Christ is lord over the (counterfeit) “artificial persons” which are innocuously referred to as religious corporationssimply has to be either retarded or knowingly in denial of the truth… you decide.
Backing Out of the Minefield of Incorporation
Dire as the situation for incorporated churches may seem, in His mercy and grace the Father has provided a way out through our Lord Christ Jesus and His Kingdom. That is the subject of my latest publication titled, Backing Out of the Minefield of Incorporation. This is a brief but essential reference source for pastors and church leaders who are no less than 100% dedicated to the Lordship of Christ and determined to breakout of Caesar’s choke hold in a accordance with the New Testament. I currently have eighteen copies that are available to anyone who will send a gift as the Lord may direct them. If your situation is such that you currently have no gift to send, please contact me and I’m confident our Lord will find a way to make it happen.
If you are serious about transitioning out of Caesar’s venue and into the Kingdom of God in Christ Jesus, I will work with you through the process and share my knowledge and wisdom as the Lord has blessed and given it me. I cannot make it any easier for you than that.
Looking forward to hearing from those called of Christ to serve Him in Spirit and in Truth,

The Monumental “666-CLA” Sermon that was Attacked by Satan: “501c3 Series-Seducers for the State-Christian Law Firms and 501(c)(3)”

Jerald Finney
© May 1, 2014

1On Wednesday night, April 30, 2014, Pastor Jason Cooley preached a monumental sermon dealing with the issue of the relationship of church and state and specifically with church corporate-501(c)(3) status and the seducers who have led churches to compromise their love for the Lord Jesus Christ by working hand in hand with, over, or under the state: “501c3 Series-Seducers for the State-Christians Law Firms and 501(c)(3).” Normally, all Pastor Jason’s sermons have, for a long time, been streamed live and then archived over Youtube (Skype before that, which sermons were not archived in video form). I have listened to almost all his live sermons on Skype and Youtube; not a one that I can remember was not successfully broadcast (then archived on Youtube) although there have been a few temporary problems. Youtube never recorded this sermon.

Picture taken by Pastor Jason as he was on the way to church to preach "Seducers For the State - Christian Law Firms & 501c3"
Picture taken by Pastor Jason as he was on the way to church to preach “Seducers For the State – Christian Law Firms & 501c3

Pastor Jason was talking over the phone with me as he and another church member were driving to the April 30 church meeting. He was telling me about his upcoming sermon. I became excited as he told me about it because the Lord has called me, as a member of Old Paths Baptist Church,  to lead under the headship of Pastor Jason Cooley, the “Separation of Church and State Law Ministry” out of Old Paths Baptist Church. As he was talking, he excitedly stated, “The car in front of me has a license plate which says, ‘666-CLA.'” I was amazed. He told me he was going to take a picture of the license plate. That picture is at left. Pastor Jason had a witness riding with him in the car. When he got to the meeting place, the services were delayed 45 minutes (See Pastor Cooley’s description of what happened below). He finally began the Wednesday night meeting. After his preliminary remarks, and just as he said that he was going to begin the sermon, Youtube went blank. I called several times to see why the broadcast was interrupted. Attempts to get it going were futile, and it was not recorded by Youtube.

DavidGibbsThe good thing is that God provided a backup which has preserved the sermon for all to hear: an audio recorder from which the sermon was transferred to sermonaudio.com.

Satan is fighting hard to prevent the truths concerning the relationship between church and state and about his tactics and emissaries. I say to you Lucifer: “This time it backfired on you.” I also say to you, “You have already lost.” Believing students of the word of God know the story of mankind from beginning to end. They know that Christ, by force, will establish and rule his earthly kingdom. They know that you will be cast into the lake of fire. Halleluiah.

The following is a comment from a person who listened to the above sermon on sermonaudio.com.

5/1/14 9:13 AM
Louise Dreves from Bloomington, Minnesota
Sermon:
Seducers For the State – Christian Law Firms…
Jason Cooley
1
comment

 

“ Excellent! ”
If anyone is on the fence on the 501C3 issue…this teaching will settle the issue once and for all. I pray all pastors will repent and renounce their 501C3 status and become biblical churches with Jesus Christ as Lord (not Ceasar). David Gibbs (Nahum 1:11)and the CLA are powerful tools of satan to silence the churches in this age of increasing wickedness and corruption. I praise God for Old Paths Baptist church and Pastor Cooley for speaking the truth no matter what.

Pastor Jason Cooley wrote this on Facebook:

Thu, May 1, 2014 at 10:37 AM
10:37 AM
facebook
Jason Cooley commented on a link that you’re tagged in.
Jason wrote: “The devil is what happened I had a spiritual war to get this thing out , want to know what I saw when I pulled up to the meeting house right before I was going to preach . This was right in front of me . CLA IS THE LETTERS FOR THE CHRISTIAN LAW ASSOCIATION. I WALKED INTO THE MEETING HOUSE . OUR ROOM WAS TAKEN , OUR EQUIPMENT TWOUDL NOT WORK PROPERLY ….AND THE SPIRITUALLY THE DEVIL WAS FIGHTING ME”
Reply to this email to comment on this link.
See Comment

 

 

Confirmation Bias in the Courtroom, in the Media, and in the Churches

64

Jerald Finney © March 23, 2014

This brief article will look at the human trait of “confirmation bias,” the main cause for the evil in America and in the churches in America. First, the article explains the term; then it touches on its significance in the courtroom, in the news media, and in churches. Finally, the article speaks of those believers who overcome their “confirmation bias” tendencies to one degree or another.

Anyone who is politically, economically, socially, and/or spiritually active and alert in American society will learn that many interpret all facts to confirm to what they already believe. I began to learn about this tendency in high school when I saw the mainstream media selectively quoting Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in their attempt to assure his defeat. My education on this matter continued, and by the time I entered law school in 1990, I understood the bias and employed that knowledge in jury trials, including my first jury trial. Psychologists call this prejudice “confirmation bias,” a term to which I was recently introduced at a Robert R. Swafford seminar. Mr. Swafford, an attorney and jury selection expert, founded “Strike for Cause Jury Consultants,” and he teaches other lawyers how to get rid of those on the jury panel in a given case who will see only the punches made by the opposing side which support the juror’s preconceived prejudices. A trial lawyer wants jurors who will only see his punches. Any truly good lawyer knows that he does not want a “fair and impartial jury;” indeed, a fair and impartial jury is something which is unattainable because of, among other things, confirmation bias.

When a juror has a confirmation bias contrary to that which a lawyer desires, the lawyer must realize that he is not going to change that bias by education or persuasion, especially in the short amount of time he has to deal with a panel of many potential jurors. He must be able to spot undesirable jurors and eliminate them for cause in a very short frame. Why? Because giving such persons more facts does no good. Giving them more facts does not change their mind, but gets them more entrenched since it challenges their world view. So trying to disrupt someone’s world view is not going to help. What one believes to be “truth” is one’s reality, so one acts exactly as he thinks the world is.

lawyerArguingToJurySo how does the lawyer get rid of undesirable jurors? First, he must identify the hot-button issues (issues that create an emotional response). Many jurors do not make up their mind rationally. They make up their mind based upon emotion, then go back and nonsensically justify their verdict. Second, ask questions which elicit biased responses into the record so that a challenge for cause (a challenge presented to the judge which unquestionably shows a bias of a juror which will cause the juror to decide the case on something other than the facts as applied to the law). That way, in case of a negative verdict, if other procedural requirements are met which support a challenge for cause, a judge’s error in admitting the unqualified juror can be presented on appeal as a basis for a new trial.

5Confirmation bias occurs not only in the courtroom. Every news reporter has confirmation bias to one degree or another. The bias of liberal media is so obvious to this writer that he simply has not consumed news from some sources for many years; for example, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, The Austin American Statesman and most other newspapers, Time Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, etc. He no longer wastes his time listening to some “conservative” sources: Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Glen Beck and some others. He had enough information to know not to listen to Bill O’Reilly, Howard Stern (of course!), and others, and he has never listened to them. Certainly, one can get some facts (along with a lot of inaccuracies) from those sources, but the facts are selected, slanted, denied, and lied about, all with the goal of supporting the bias of the source.

Sadly, the author has discovered that confirmation bias is also rampant among most pastors and other members of churches with whom he has dealt. Usually, the pastor is able, because of his position, to transfer his bias to the church members; but influential church members (most significantly those with money) sometimes coerce the pastor to accept their bias. That this occurs in churches is tragic because, of all places in the world, the head of the church, Jesus Christ, makes clear in His word that truth is of utmost importance for believers. Only the knowledge of the truth will make us free (John 8.32; all Bible verses referred to are from the King James Bible). God’s word is truth (John 17.17, Colossians 1.5, 1 Thessalonians 2.13). God desires that the believer be guided by the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom gained from the truths found in his Word (2 Peter 1.1-14; Hosea 4; for more on this go to the following link: After Salvation Page of “Separation of Church and State Law” blog).

8One area of church matters which almost all “fundamental Baptist pastors” have a severe confirmation bias is in the area of church organization. Their religion has trained them to simply accept the tradition of their church affiliation that local churches should become a legal entity such as an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization. The false reasons given for church incorporation are thoroughly analyzed in the Separation of Church and State/ God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? and in Section VI of the book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Click here to go to ordering information, free PDF’s and online versions of all books by Jerald Finney).

Truth teaches that a church grieves the Lord when they become any type of legal entity and when they get the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) status. The writings of this author prove that a principle in the Bible is separation of church and state and that church legal entity status (incorporation, unincorporated association status, charitable trust status, Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) status, etc.) violate that principle and grieve the Lord. However, many born again elders-to include pastors-and other believers and “Christian” lawyers are guided by another “truth,” a truth advanced by their adversary, which is kinder (they believe) to their earthly security and well-being. As a result, even when such a church member will address the issue of incorporation and 501(c)(3) status for a church, he employs all the anti-biblical, anti-truthful, and anti-factual techniques and arguments he can muster up in order to justify his preconceived position.

A good example of confirmation bias by a Baptist education leader, the Executive Vice-President of Landmark Baptist College, is given in the article “Spurious rationale for church corporate-501c3 status: One’s convictions.” That article analyzes the simplistic and totally false reasoning of  Dr. Charles Brown, the president of a Baptist College, someone from whom one would expect at least a semblance of scholarship on the issue. “Dr.” Brown’s shallow philosophy exemplifies that of many Baptists who justify a tradition of their religion as they speak according to their confirmation bias.

But thankfully, there is always a remnant. Elijah learned this. Elijah complained, “I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10). God replied, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18; for more on the remnant go to “Topical Index” and scroll down to “Remnant.”).

During the captivities of Israel, the remnant appears in Jews like Ezekiel, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Esther, and Mordecai. At the end of the 70 years of Babylonian captivity it was the remnant which returned under Ezra and Nehemiah. At the first advent of our Lord, John the Baptist, Simeon, and Anna who “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2.38) were among the remnant. During the church-age the remnant is composed of believing Jews and Gentiles. Many of these have, do, and will undergo martyrdom. Many of the Psalms express, prophetically, the joys and sorrows of the tribulation remnant.

God always calls men who will be true to him and who will preach the truth. Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were prophets to the restored remnant in Israel after the exile. Likewise, many men of God have taken up the cause of preaching the truth in the church age; those include the apostles, many of the early church members and preachers, and martyrs and true believers since the beginning of the New Testament churches (See The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus and The Trail of Blood Continues).

1The remnant will stand for and suffer for truth. “And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God” (Zechariah 12.8-9). The Lord of the remnant is God, not the state, not the federal government, not their wallets or bank accounts, not their businesses, not any other person or thing.

You see, the remnant has no confirmation bias. The remnant responds to and acts on truth. When truth is revealed to him through, first and foremost, Holy Spirit led Bible study – word by word study beginning in “Genesis” and progressing through “Revelation” having cast aside his “theology (e.g. Calvinism) and simply believing what is said, in immediate and overall Bible context; second, commentaries and other written teachings; and third, sermons and verbal other Bible teaching. When a true believer  who is standing on the truths of the Word of God becomes discouraged when scorned and even persecuted by the religious crowd, he has the promises of God to comfort and console him. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9. 1 Thessalonians 2.13 and the whole of 1 Corinthians 2 is included in  the Endnote.)

Endnote:

Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe”.

1 Corinthians 2: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:  That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.  Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

Spiritual versus Legal Entities


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 15, 2012


Note. This is a modified version of Chapter 2 of Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities.


A church can choose to be either a spiritual entity, an earthly entity, or a blend of those two entities. A New Testament church is a spiritual house only, not an earthly house or an earthly and spiritual house (See, e.g., I Co. 6.15-20; II Co. 6.16-18; Ep. 2.19-22; He. 3.6, 9.1-2, 11; I Pe. 2.4-6; God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application, Section II, Chapters 1-3, Section III, Chapter 4). For a church to be a spiritual entity only and a New Testament church, the Lord Jesus Christ can be her only head (Ibid.). Many churches in America have been organized as spiritual entities only, some for decades. The church the author is a member of, Old Paths Baptist Church in Northfield Minnesota, is organized in that manner (You may listen to some preaching and other teachings on these matters by Old Paths’s pastor by clicking the following link: Sermons by Pastor Jason Cooley)

Doing one thing that combines church and state creates a legal entity. “Legal entity” means:

“Legal existence. An entity, other than a natural person, who has sufficient existence in legal contemplation that it can function legally, be sued or sue and make decisions through agents as in the case of corporations” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 893-894 (6th ed. 1990), definition of “legal entity.”).

A legal entity is an earthly entity, designed and created by man and run according to man made rules and procedures. Incorporating makes a church a legal entity as does obtaining 26 United States Code (Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”)) § 501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”) status. A legal entity is an earthly, not a spiritual, entity (See God Betrayed, esp. Section II, Chapters 2 and 3, and Section III, Chapter 4 for a thorough discussion of spiritual entity and legal entity. Click for PDF of God Betrayed; Click here for online version: Online version of God Betrayed.). A church which is a spiritual entity cannot sue or be sued because she is under the Lord Jesus Christ only and she has no legal existence and therefore no ties to the state. In modern day America, a church who becomes a legal entity is given absolutely no control over the state, but the state is given a good deal of control over that church.

A church can become a legal entity in ways other than incorporation (Includes corporation sole: See “Critique of ‘Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole’ Website”). For example, a church can become a legal entity by becoming a charitable trust, or unincorporated association, applying for an Employee or Taxpayer Identification number, opening up a bank account, entering into a contract, etc. (See Chapter 6 of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities. As will be explained, a pastor/trustee of an ordinary trust can open a bank account, etc.).

A church becomes a legal entity by holding property through incorporation or some other means. Although there is no precedent in Scripture for a New Testament church to own or hold property since such a church is a spiritual entity only, a New Testament church obviously must occupy real property to exist. “Real property” means: “Land, and generally whatever is erected or growing upon or affixed to land” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 1219, definition of “Real property.”). Hereinafter, the author, unless otherwise indicated, will use the term “property” in referring to “real property.” By holding property in any manner, a church becomes a legal entity.

In America, a New Testament church may occupy property in a manner consistent with biblical principle in at least three ways. A church may use both real and personal property held by a pastor/trustee, under a Declaration of Trust, for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ (See Spurious rationale for church incorporation: to hold property for an explanation). Second, a church may use and occupy property if the owner gives the church permission to do so. Or third, a pastor/trustee, under a Declaration of Trust, may lease property to be used by a church for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A pastor/trustee may hold legal title to real and/or corporal personal property (“Any kind of property, whether real or personal, freehold or leasehold, and any interest therein, whether legal or equitable, may be impressed with an ordinary trust which is not a legal entity. While the question of what property is made subject to a trust is determined by the terms of the trust, as a general proposition a property interest must be transferable to be the subject of an express trust.” 76 AM. JUR. 2D Trusts § 247 (2007).)—which includes movable and tangible things such as furniture, merchandise, etc. (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 1217, definition of “Property.”)—for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ through a Declaration of Trust without having created a legal entity. Such a trust relationship cannot sue or be sued. Although the pastor/trustee holds and distributes property for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the church holds or owns nothing and remains a spiritual entity. (See Ecclesiastical Law Center Exposed for an explanation of the difference between a Bible trust (a non-legal entity into which a church places tithes offerings and gifts for of the true owner of the property, Jesus Christ and which does not make a church a legal entity in that the trust is not the church and the church is not the trust.) and a business trust or charitable trust. )

As the author explains in his writings and audio teaching, a church that holds real and/or personal property through a legal entity such as a non-profit corporation has partially placed herself under the control of civil government, the sovereign of the corporate part of that church. Such a church operates with two heads. A church which obtains 501(c)(3) tax exemption has agreed to further limitations and controls by a secular head.

Civil government has no authority over New Testament churches, but it does have authority over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations and other types of legal entities. Although the IRS recognizes that there is a distinction between churches and other types of religious organizations, a Moslem mosque, a Hindu temple, any type religious organization that meets the test laid down by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) is treated exactly as or better than an incorporated 501(c)(3) “church” is treated. The IRS and civil government by providing for incorporation, 501(c)(3) tax exemption and other types of devises have become involved with the exercise of religion; and, therefore, there is no “free exercise of religion” for churches which have been seduced by these government creations.

Through offering incorporation and later the 501(c)(3) tax exemption to churches, almost all of the states and the federal government opened the door; and most churches promptly entered and became incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations. Incorporation of churches was offered by states and did not violate the First Amendment because originally the First Amendment applied only to the federal government. However, the federal government was given some authority over the contracts created by incorporation because of the contract clause of Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution (See, e.g., Mark Douglas McGarvie One Nation Under Law: America’s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State (DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005).). Churches sought incorporation partly to gain federal government protection of the contract with the state. The 501(c)(3) tax exemption ties churches to the federal government. State and federal governments have successfully tempted most churches to entangle themselves with civil government, thereby removing themselves partially or totally from under the Headship of Christ and placing themselves under the jurisdiction of the state of incorporation and the federal government.

Since the ratification of the First Amendment, the federal government has never forced a church to incorporate or get 501(c)(3) status. The Supreme Court still understands that the state cannot legally interfere with a church that does not willingly submit itself to the state.

The constitution of every state also provides for religious freedom and soul liberty. Yes, a church can also incorporate under state law, should she desire to do so. However, she is not required to do so. Should she choose to please God, not to incorporate, her choice, and the soul liberty of her members, are protected by the highest state law; and, since the First Amendment religion clause has been made applicable to the states, by America’s highest law.

In effect – as proved (1) by American law, (2) in the author’s writings and teachings, (3) and by many churches operating as spiritual entities only – churches in America may operate as spiritual entities only. Church incorporation-501(c)(3) tax exemption is nothing more than a scheme designed to educate and control churches. The plan has worked as to the great majority of churches. The state knows that it cannot control and educate a New Testament church. Civil government cannot tell a New Testament church what to believe, say, or do. The state has no control over such a church.

Introduction to Section VI, Chapter 1 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 10, 2012


Note. This is a modified version of Section VI, Chapter 1 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application.


Many factors have contributed to the attacks on God’s Word and the apostasy of the church—for example, the enlightenment, the industrial revolution, and Darwinism. Enlightenment thought or humanism was brought into the church as religious modernism. Humanistic principles infiltrated most churches, including fundamental Bible believing churches, which moved from acting and preaching with the goal of glorifying God to acting and preaching with the goal being the happiness of man.

Religious apostasy was followed by moral awfulness which resulted in political anarchy. First, God and His principles were attacked and religious apostasy grew. Then followed moral depravity and then the denial by civil government of God’s authority and any established order under God. As to the first stage in the downfall of America, the states of the new nation invited the churches to an ungodly relationship with civil government through incorporation. Then, in the twentieth century the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, through the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”), extended another invitation to churches to become more entangled and controlled by government. Most churches eagerly accepted that invitation. In the midst of these unions with civil government, religious modernism and revisions and interpretations of the Word of God were infiltrating churches and Christian educational institutions to one degree or another.

Jesus Christ is the head of His church in all things. However, God will permit a church to betray Him and take herself from under Christ in one thing, some things, or all things. Placing a church under some person or power in only one thing greatly displeases the Lord because doing so violates biblical precept. God’s Word did not say, “and gave him to be the head over all things to the church except one thing” or “all things except secular or earthly matters,” or “all things except property.” God’s Word says, “all things.”

“If Christ Jesus have left such power with the civil rulers of the world, [kingdoms and counties, or] for the establishing, governing, and reforming his church, what is become of his care and love, wisdom and faithfulness, since in all ages since he left the earth, for the general [beyond all exception] he hath left her destitute of such qualified princes and governors, and in the course of his providence furnished her with such, whom he knew would be [and all men find] as fit as wolves to protect and feed his sheep and people” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 1 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871),  p. 158, quoting from Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848).)!

It is impossible for a New Testament Church to remain a New Testament church if that church chooses to do one thing which may result in legal subjection to the civil government. In other words, when a New Testament church does anything contrary to Scripture which gives even partial claim of sovereignty over that church to the state, that church has committed a wicked act which subjects her to another head, thereby greatly displeasing the Lord. That church has betrayed the Lord.

Doing one thing that subjects a church to the state creates a legal entity. “Legal entity” means:

“Legal existence. An entity, other than a natural person, who has sufficient existence in legal contemplation that it can function legally, be sued or sue and make decisions through agents as in the case of corporations” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 893-894 (6th ed. 1990), definition of “legal entity.”).

Corporations are legal entities. On the other hand, a pastor/trustee may hold legal title to real and/or corporal personal property for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ through a Declaration of Trust without having created a legal entity. “Any kind of property, whether real or personal, freehold or leasehold, and any interest therein, whether legal or equitable, may be impressed with a trust. While the question of what property is made subject to a trust is determined by the terms of the trust, as a general proposition a property interest must be transferable to be the subject of an express trust.” (76 AM. JUR. 2D Trusts § 247 (2007)). Real property includes movable and tangible things such as furniture, merchandise, etc. (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 1217, definition of “Property.”). Such a trust is not the church, and the church remains a purely spiritual entity. The pastor/trustee merely holds the property, as fiduciary, for the benefit of the beneficiary, the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, such a trust is merely a way for a trustee to hold property for someone else’s benefit. It is important to understand that some types of trusts such as business trusts and charitable trusts are legal entities which differ legally from this type of pure trust. Some pseudo legal scholars who are above their heads in dealing with legal matters have referred to legal principles for those types of trusts in his analysis of this type of pure trust.

Furthermore, although there is no precedent in Scripture for a New Testament church, a strictly spiritual entity, to own property, a New Testament church obviously must occupy real property to exist. “Real property” means: “Land, and generally whatever is erected or growing upon or affixed to land” (Ibid., p. 1219, definition of “Real property.”). Hereinafter, the author will use the term “property” in referring to “real property.” In America, a New Testament church may occupy property in a manner consistent with biblical principle in at least three ways. As will be shown in Chapter 7 infra, a church may use property held by a pastor/trustee, under a Declaration of Trust, for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, a church may use and occupy property if the owner gives the church permission to do so. Or third, a pastor/trustee, under a Declaration of Trust, may lease property to be used by a church for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A church who holds real and/or personal property through a corporation has partially placed herself under the control of someone other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a church is not under Christ in “all things,” and operates with two heads. A church who further seeks tax exemption under IRC § 501(c)(3) (26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) (2007)) (“501(c)(3)”) has agreed to further limitations and controls by a secular head.

True born again Christians in America have been blessed beyond measure. The First Amendment provided for religious liberty. Christians in America had the opportunity to keep God’s church pure and undefiled and to perform the great commission (“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16.15) without persecution from state or federal governments. What did they do? First, many churches ignored the sound biblical advice of men like Isaac Backus and entered into contracts with the state; that is, they incorporated. Then, when given the opportunity starting in the twentieth century, churches further submitted themselves to another head when they sought 501(c)(3) tax exemption.

To Baptists, passing from persecution to religious liberty without persecution was like God delivering the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and entering the Promised Land. God said to the Israelites in Egypt, “And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 3.8a). God did deliver them into that Promised Land. God gave them many instructions and warnings prior to their entry into that land:

“And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.  Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth. Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah. Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee. And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers” (De. 6.10-18).
“When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (De. 7.1-6).

The children of Israel did not do as the Lord had commanded them:

“And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Caananites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out” (Jud. 1.28).
“They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions. Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance. And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them” (Ps. 106.34-41).

As shown in Section IV, Americans owe their religious liberty primarily to the Baptists. But many of those same Baptists who had been persecuted for so long in the fight for religious liberty proved again that man never changes—they never saw or they ignored the fact that incorporation entangled churches with the state contrary to biblical principle. Baptists—like the Israelites who, after God brought them into the Promised Land—did not complete the job God had given them. With religious freedom and material prosperity, many Baptists stopped searching the Bible for God’s truth in all matters and betrayed Christ by using their newly acquired freedom to partially subjugate themselves to an earthly power—the state. They practiced pragmatism and introduced a little leaven into many of their churches. They decided that they would proceed according to that which “worked.” God became a means, not an end. Their goal, at least partially, in the beginning became the happiness of man and not the glory of God. They had more important work to do than worrying about contending further for the sovereignty of God over His wife, the church. To remain totally under God and thereby glorify Him would be inconvenient. To incorporate would provide certain earthly benefits and give protection under the contract clause of the United States Constitution.

The results of Israel not obeying God took hundreds of years to play out. At first, the theocracy of Israel was directly under God who ruled through judges:

“[The period of the theocracy of Israel under the judges was] a time of deep declension of the people as they turned from God, the unseen Leader, and descended to the low level of ‘In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes’ (compare Judges 1.1 with 20.18). This should have been an era of glowing progress, but it was a dark day of repeated failure.
“The ‘hoop’ of Israel’s history [began] with the nation serving God. Then they took certain steps downward. They did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baalim (see Judges 2.11). They forsook the Lord and they served Baal and Ashtaroth. The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of their enemies. Israel entered a time of servitude. Soon Israel cried out to God in their sad plight and distress. They turned to God and repented. God heard their prayers and raised up judges through whom they were delivered. Then again the nation served God.
“Soon the same old story repeated itself” (J. Vernon McGee, Joshua and Judges (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1980), p. 112-113).

Judges 17 through 21 chronicles events in Israel which represented the state of society at that time. In Judges 17 and 18 God presents the low spiritual state in Israel due to apostasy. In Judges 19 God gives an example of the moral awfulness to which Israel had descended. In Judges 20 and 21 God records the political anarchy of Israel, the final step down by a nation.

After that, the Israelites rejected the headship of God and demanded a king like the other nations. God allowed their request. Even though the nation Israel rejected God’s perfect will, Israel, before the nation split, and Judah, after the division, were blessed by God when ruled by good kings. Israel after the division never had a good king.

As long as the population at least honored the Word of God in most respects, the consequences were not dire. Why? The Bible teaches that God permits deviation from his perfect or directive will:

“It is important to distinguish between the directive and the permissive will of God…. God will take up His people and, so far as possible, bless them, even when they are out of His best. In Israel’s choice of a king (1 Sam. 8:7-9); in the turning back from Kadesh (Deut. 1:19-22); in the sending of the spies; in the case of Balaam—illustrations of this principle are seen. It is needless to say that God’s permissive will never extend to things morally wrong. The highest blessing is ever found in obedience to His directive will” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Genesis 46.3, p. 65).

Will a believer and/or a church say to God, “Thy will be done;” or will a believer and/or a church set its goal as the happiness of man and not the glory of God? God allows men to choose. He will say to a particular person and/or church who deviates from His will, “Go ahead and do it your way.” What kind of person are you? What kind of church do you belong to?

The experience of the Israelites in rejecting God and demanding a king is very similar to a church rejecting God as her only Head and seeking incorporation and 501(c)(3) status. When Samuel was judge over Israel, the Israelites demanded a king to rule over them so that they might also, as they put it, “be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (1 S. 8.19). “[T]he LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them” (1 S. 8.7-9).

Samuel, at God’s direction, told the people the bad consequences of rejecting the theocracy and choosing to be ruled by a king (1 S. 8.10-17). “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (1 S. 8.19-20). Samuel later reminded them that the Lord had always, through His appointed judges, delivered them from their oppressors when  they repented of their evil (See 1 S. 12.6-11) and of their reason for seeking a king: “And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king” (1 S. 12.12).

Although Israel’s demanding a king was called a “great wickedness” (1 S. 12.17), which they perceived after Samuel foretold and God sent “thunder and rain” (1 S. 12.17-18) on the day of the wheat harvest, the people did not repent of that evil. The people acknowledged their wickedness and asked Samuel to pray to God “that [they] die not” (1 S. 12.19), but they did not repent. Knowing that asking for a king was a great evil, they said to Samuel, “Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask for a king” (1 S. 12.19). They were only concerned about their own temporal selves, their own happiness, and not the glory of God. Would not God have been greatly pleased and glorified had they repented, rejected their king, and asked God to rule over them as before? Samuel replied to them:

“Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.  But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king” (1 S. 12.20-25).

The contrast between God as King and a man as king became readily apparent. Samuel said, “Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you” (1 S. 12.13). Saul, as king, quickly revealed the contrast. David (David, with all his faults, was called a man after God’s own heart.), and Solomon to a degree, were good kings of Israel before the division; and a few good kings (but mostly bad kings) ruled Judah, and all the kings of Israel after the division were bad. Furthermore, all the administrations under the kings, as the people had been warned (See 1 S. 8.11-18), consumed resources and the services of citizens that could have been enjoyed by the people and directed toward the glory of God. Israel separated from Judah because Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, in answer to their request to “make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter and we will serve thee” (1 K. 12.4),replied to them, “And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions” (1 K. 12.1). With time, the people and the kings continued to sink further into evil, the nation divided, and ultimately, after hundreds of years, the nations of Israel and Judah, as God had warned them, were taken into captivity.

Many churches in America have reached the point that Israel eventually reached after rejecting God. After Judah was taken into captivity, some were not taken into captivity, but were permitted to stay in Israel. Jeremiah warned them:

“And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.  So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them” (Je. 42.15-17).

Against the warnings of God’s prophet, Jeremiah, they decided to go to Egypt (See Je. 42-44). They declared (falsely as to the blessings for worshipping the queen of heaven):

As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.  But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?” (Je. 44.16-19)

Jeremiah pointed out God’s judgment of Israel for their idolatry which left Israel a land of “desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant” (Je. 44.22).

Like that remnant, some churches in America who know the truth refuse to repent of their evil. Their goal remains the happiness of man, not the glory of God. Many others simply do not know how to proceed to disentangle themselves.

The spiritual apostasy of churches in America has resulted in moral awfulness (which is obvious to any American Christian) and political anarchy. America is experiencing political anarchy because God has been discarded by the federal government. The philosophy of history exemplified by Israel in the Old Testament has played out in America. America is being judged and will be judged more severely, and the fault lies at the door of believers and churches.

As shown in Section I, Christ, the prophets and other men of God, have warned individuals, families, churches, America and every nation of the consequences of failure to submit to Him and His principles. Deviation from God’s directive will always bring bad consequences, sooner or later. To dishonor God on the highest level is soon followed by dishonor in many other ways, and God’s patience and mercy extend only so far. The overall trend after disobedience to God in Israel and in America’s churches and America today was and is always downward, away from God. This principle applies to a corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization in America. With a good pastor (in matters other than the headship issue), as with Judah when she had a good king, an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization may still be blessed by God, but not as she would be had she honored her marriage to the Lord Jesus Christ. Even with a good pastor, such an organization does not enjoy the full power of God, since, by her own choice, part of her power and blessings come from the state. Most likely such a church will begin to compromise the Word of God and the principles of God. Sooner or later that church will have a pastor who is not good. As more people are attracted by liberal churches, the number of Bible believing individuals and churches diminishes. The remnant grows smaller by the day. This is demonstrated by the growth of liberal “Bible believing churches,” and the churches of the Faith Movement, the Church Growth Movement, and the Emerging Church Movement as shown in Section II. Many of the churches in those movements are either incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations with God-fearing pastors (who did not understand the importance of keeping the marriage to the Lord pure and undefiled) or religious organizations started by new pastors such as Rick Warren.  This state of affairs has been reached in a relatively short time. America, as of 2007, has, since the Constitution, existed only two hundred eighteen years, not nearly as long as Israel had been in the land before the dispersion.

Originally, before and after the ratification of the United States Constitution, the only church involvement with the state was through incorporation. Any incorporation of churches at any time was and is wicked, and modern incorporation significantly subjects churches to the state. Churches rationalized that to incorporate was the pragmatic thing to do. By incorporating, they received protection from the state. They could contract—for example, they could contract with their pastors for his salary. Churches could hold property and receive bequests. As pointed out in “Recent Accelerated Apostasy in America” and other articles on this website, their goal was the happiness of man, not the glory of God. God became a means to an end, not the end. Churches reasoned, without examining Scripture, that doing certain things “worked” and therefore that doing those things was good or even of God.

In the twentieth century incorporated churches further freely submitted to civil government in both earthly and spiritual matters. The federal government took advantage of the new status of churches in order to control, educate, and define them. 26 United States Code (“U.S.C.”)(IRC) § 501(c)(3), an unconstitutional law which violates the First Amendment religion clause when applied to churches, has lured churches into entanglement with the federal government. As did the Israelites, God’s people in America turned from serving Him fully and entered into unholy alliances with the state and federal governments. Although churches may claim that incorporation only subjects a church to civil government in earthly matters, it is obvious that corporate 501(c)(3) churches submit to the civil government in some spiritual matters. Not only that, churches and church members become entangled in satanic rules and procedures that, if honored (and they should be honored by such an incorporated church since God’s people should always strive to keep their agreements, even anti-biblical contracts they willingly enter into), consume tremendous physical and material resources. The modern American incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization many times contends with their new sovereign over what she may say and do. (See “1,000 Pastors who pledge to defy IRS and preach on politics from pulpit ahead of election misunderstand the law and the hierarchy of lawfor more on this matter.)

By incorporating, a church creates numerous contracts—a contract between the church and the state, a contract between the members or stockholders of a corporation, and between the corporation and its members or its stockholders—which substantially affect the church and the members. Contract, as opposed to biblical covenant, is a satanic/ humanistic/enlightenment principle. A contract is “a binding agreement between two or more persons or parties; esp., one legally enforceable” (WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 251 (10th ed. 1995), definition of “contract.”). God is not included in a civil contract, whereas biblical covenant always includes God and His principles.

Just as marriage of man and woman is a biblical covenant which includes God, the marriage of Christ and His church is a biblical covenant. The Bible compares not only Christ and His church but also Jehovah and Israel to husband and wife. “For thy maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy one of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called” (Is. 54.5).  Experience and the Word of God teach man how a husband feels when his wife is unfaithful. The Old Testament teaches that God the Father felt the same way when Israel committed spiritual whoredom. Ezekiel 16 speaks of the harlotry of Jerusalem. God said to Jerusalem: “But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband! They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom” (Eze. 16.32-33).  “Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD” (Je. 3.20)  God pleaded with Israel and his people to return unto Him. “… [T]hou has played the harlot, with many lovers; yet return again to me saith the Lord…” (Je. 3.1). “Turn, O Backsliding children saith the LORD; for I am married unto you…” (Je. 3.14). God’s grief over Jerusalem was displayed by Jesus when He lamented the rebellion of Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Lu. 13.34).

God gave some object lessons as to the way He felt about Israel’s spiritual fornication. Ezekiel was made a sign to Israel: God told him not to mourn the death of his wife (Eze. 24.15-27). Likewise, God used Hosea to communicate His feelings. Hosea was told to marry a woman who, after they had children, left him and became a harlot. “For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband: for then was it better with me than now. For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal” (Ho. 2.5-8).

Like He will restore Israel, God told Hosea to restore his wife.

The Lord Jesus, as Husband of His church, likewise grieves at the unfaithfulness of His church. Christ and His wife, the church, are one flesh. He loves the church as Himself. “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. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” (Ep. 5.25-29).

Obviously, God, through Scripture and practical experience, has conveyed to born again believers all they need to know in order to understand Christ’s extreme love for His Church and the grief He suffers when His wife places herself, even partially, under another head.

Most churches in America, in choosing to place themselves under the state through incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, made the same choice that the Israelites made—they chose to place themselves under someone besides God so that their new “king” may judge them, go out before them, fight their battles. They entered into an illicit relationship with the state. Good pastors who now understand church-state issues have been called to some of those churches. They are presented with a dilemma.

As could have been predicted from “rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” the civil government is doing the opposite of what the church wished (except for temporal benefits which increase the temporary “happiness of man”); and most incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations and members do not realize what is happening. The civil government has educated many or most “Christians” in anti-biblical principles and used the church to further its satanic purposes. In effect, many churches have become mere arms of the state. Civil government officials, who have absolutely no understanding of Romans 13 point out to miseducated or willfully ignorant church pastors and members—many of whom eagerly follow the directions of their illegitimate master—that under Romans 13 it is the duty of the church to serve the state at the whim of the state. In effect, churches have “rendered unto Caesar the things that are God’s.” Many such religious organizations use tithes and offerings, government money, money obtained from begging on street corner, and/or money from advertisements on television, radio, and elsewhere to carry on their ministries, giving donors tax-deduction acknowledgements available because of 501(c)(3) status. In other words, these incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations depend upon the power, authority, reasoning, and techniques of civil government to achieve their goals. Can you imagine our Lord, when Satan offered Him all the kingdoms of the world (See En1), if the Lord would bow down and worship him—that is, if the Lord would operate under satanic principles—accepting Satan’s offer (See Mt. 4.8-9; Lu. 4.5-7)? Instead, the Lord gave us the correct example by quoting Scripture: “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Mt. 4.10; Lu. 4.8). Can you imagine the Apostle Paul, any other apostle, or persecuted Christians down through the ages when asked “by what authority do you these things,” responding, “by the authority of the state.”

“Churches” which operate even partially by authority of the state get some of their power from the state, not from God. If the power is not of God, it is of Satan. At least a portion of their power is earthly and temporary, not heavenly and eternal. They cannot say as did Peter to the man lame from birth, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (See Ac. 3.6). In fact, many churches have turned to another gospel, the social gospel, as their sole or primary offer to mankind. They give mankind temporary “help” but either leave out eternal spiritual matters or depend upon their methods, instead of those methods prescribed by God’s Word, to lead men to earthly “salvation.” They “[h]av[e] a form of godliness, but deny[] the power thereof” (See 2 Ti. 3.5). Paul told Christians to turn away from such (Ibid.).

Without God’s power spearheaded by New Testament churches, there will be no great revivals like those which occurred around the time of the adoption of the Constitution and for years thereafter. Without renewed and more active attention and awakening to the things of God, individuals, families, churches, and the nation will continue down the road to destruction.

Related to this issue of separation of church and state is the issue of the relationship of God and state. How would a nation under God operate? First, the goal of such a nation—the glory of God—would be clearly and emphatically stated in its constitution. According to its stated purpose, a nation under God would totally implement the principle of biblical covenant which includes two or more people or a nation and God in any agreement unleavened in any way by enlightenment principles such as the principle of contract or any other unbiblical principle. A nation under God would make known that all men have freedom of conscience as proscribed by the Word of God, but that the nation would proceed under the principles of the Word of God, the principles of Christianity, when addressing issues within its God-given jurisdiction in the criminal or civil law. Biblical principle would be used to determine the jurisdiction of civil government and civil government would operate only within the jurisdiction given it by God in His Word. A nation under God would recognize the sovereignty of God and would open up all civil government activities in Jesus name and only in Jesus name. A nation under God, although inherently recognizing the legitimacy of the New Testament church by recognizing the one true God and His principles, would not grant any type material benefits to false religions or to any churches. Such a nation would legitimately proclaim to its citizens and to all nations in the world that it is “one nation under God” whose goal was “the glory of God.”

After God called Israel to be a theocracy directly under Him, the Gentile nations continued under the dispensations of conscience and human government. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Ro. 2.14-15).

God still desired Gentile nations to choose to be under Him, but sadly both Israel and Gentile nations have governed for self and not God. The Word of God makes clear that Gentile nations, like Israel, are without excuse. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Ro. 1.18-20). Romans 1.21-23 gives the seven stages of Gentile world apostasy, and Romans 1.24-32 gives the results of Gentile world apostasy.

Since America is not a nation under God, America has subverted the biblical concept of the relationship of church and state, God and state, and God and the church. Churches, even most “fundamental Bible believing churches,” have been willing, or willingly ignorant accomplices in this subversion. As will be shown, the states through incorporation and the Federal Government through the IRC have moved into the spiritual arena and invited churches to become established state religious organizations which are to a great degree controlled by the state. Most churches have eagerly accepted the invitations.

Civil government has no authority over a New Testament church, but it does have authority over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations. Although the IRS recognizes that there is a distinction between churches and other types of religious organizations, a Moslem mosque, a Hindu temple, a “church” of Satan, a Wiccan “church,” Planned Parenthood, and any type religious organization that meets the test laid down by the Internal Revenue Service is treated exactly as or better than an incorporated 501(c)(3) “church” is treated. In the IRC, a 501(c)(3) church is included with a group of “religious organizations.” At the same time, the IRS and civil government have become involved with the exercise of religion, so that there is no “free exercise thereof” for the 501(c)(3) religious organization as intended by those who ratified the First Amendment. Some organizations which are not churches are classified as churches.

Through offering incorporation and later the 501(c)(3) tax exemption to churches, almost all of the states and the federal government opened the door, and most churches promptly entered and became incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations. Incorporation of churches was offered by states and did not violate the First Amendment because originally the First Amendment applied only to the federal government. However, the federal government was given some authority over the contracts created by incorporation because of the contract clause of Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution. Churches sought incorporation partly to gain federal government protection of the contract with the state.  The 501(c)(3) tax exemption further tied the church to the federal government. Through those devices, state and federal governments have successfully tempted most churches to entangle themselves with civil government, thereby removing themselves partially or totally from under the Headship of Christ and the First Amendment and placing themselves under the jurisdiction of the state of incorporation and the federal government.

Even though the civil government made an offer, churches did not have to accept it. Most did. Since the ratification of the First Amendment, the federal government has never forced a church to incorporate or get 501(c)(3) status. The Supreme Court still understands that the state cannot legally interfere with a church who does not willingly submit itself to the state. Inevitably, the population of America became more and more corrupted; and a time came when most Americans and most civil leaders were lost and without any understanding whatsoever of biblical principles and the nature of God. Furthermore, many or most church members were either lost or were spiritual babies who sought convenience rather than the truths of the Word of God concerning the issue of separation of church and state. As a result, churches have run to the civil government seeking incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status and put themselves under bondage to civil government.

In effect, as will be shown in this section, the incorporation-501(c)(3) tax exemption is nothing more than an exemption-education-control scheme. The state knows that it cannot control and educate a New Testament church. Civil government cannot tell a New Testament church what to believe, say, or do. The state has no control over such a church. A New Testament church will submit to only one Husband—the Lord Jesus Christ. She gets her spiritual orders from God’s Word, not the civil government. A New Testament church believes and acts upon God’s Words. On the other hand, an incorporated, 501(c)(3) religious organization, in addition to being involved in a wicked act against her Husband, is subject to the teaching and control of civil government.

Saved individuals and churches choose either to be free under God or to be in bondage under Satan. God wants His children and churches to be free. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8.31-32, 36).

Anyone who is not saved is in bondage to sin and the devil. “A Christian is free from the guilt of sin, condemnation (Jn. 3.18, 5.24), the power of darkness (Col. 1.13), the sting of death (1 Co. 15.54-57), the law of sin and death (Ro. 8.1), the power of indwelling sin (Ro. 6), the curse of the law (Ga. 3.13), and pride (Ro. 3.27).” (Insights from a sermon by Dr. Roy Thompson at Capitol City Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, on April 20, 2008).

After salvation, one still has to make choices. A church who incorporates and gets 501(c)(3) status chooses to place herself partially under the civil government and loses part of her freedom.

This does not mean that members of a church are free to commit crimes. As to infractions against another or society, the Bible provides that the state is there “to punish evildoers.” Christians are told not to do evil. “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters” (1 Pe. 4.14-15).

How many times do Christians and churches allow fear to control, paralyze, and enslave them? God desires to deliver those “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (See He. 2.15). “For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.  Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men” (1 Co. 7.22-23).

Although the lost man should fear God, the Christian is not to be subject to fear, even the fear of death for practicing his faith. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10.28). “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Ti. 1.7). If death is no cause for fear to the Christian, why should anything else frighten, control, paralyze, and/or enslave him against the will of God?

Since the founding of the nation, Christians in America have suffered little persecution. When persecution for the Lord’s sake comes, the true Christian should rejoice as did persecuted apostles and Christians down through the ages: “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. 5.11-12).

Jesus said to the church in Smyrna, the suffering persecuted church, and only one of two churches against which the Lord had nothing bad to say: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Re. 2.10).Unfortunately, most church members are more American than they are Christian; submission to biblical principles only is impractical and too contrary to the American way of life. The laws passed by the civil government provide that the church who submits to state authority will be able to attract and keep members who are more concerned about their material than their spiritual well-being; who are more concerned with temporary happiness and the absence of fear than with the glory of God. Many church members, including many pastors, either due to biblical ignorance and/or motivated by fear and greed, have misinterpreted or ignored fundamental Bible principles in order to become an arm of the state. Many times good pastors led the move to combine the churches they pastored with the state because they blindly followed their Bible college or seminary education. Also, many good pastors have inherited state-entangled churches and cannot decide what to do about it.

Endnote

The 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Mt. 4.8, p. 998: “The Greek word kosmos means ‘order,’ ‘arrangement,’ and so, with the Greeks, ‘beauty’; for order and arrangement in the sense of system are at the bottom of the Greek conception of beauty.

      “When used in the N.T. of humanity, the ‘world’ of men, it is organized humanity–humanity in families, tribes, nations–which is meant. The word for chaotic, unorganized humanity–the mere mass of man is thalassa, the ‘sea’ of men (e.g. Rev. 13:1). For ‘world’ (kosmos) in the bad ethical sense, ‘world system’ John 7.7, refs.

Incorporation of churches in the colonies and the new nation


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 10, 2012


Note. This is a modified version of Section VI, Chapter 3 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application.


   “The Constitution did not separate church and state [on the state level], but it did endorse a conception of society that made separation inevitable. The protection of private rights from public action required the delineation of private and public activities. Once law separated public and private realms, churches could not [according to the way the law developed] continue their historic roles of public service. [States that relied on the political process to effectuate separation of church and state, an essentially state matter, encountered tremendous difficulty in doing so.] Politics could not determine the form that educational and welfare institutions would take in the early republic because no political consensus existed. The law could—and when state and federal courts turned to consider this issue, their decisions were informed by the same legal doctrine. Ultimately the Supreme Court did impose a model of privatization on all of the states, but its effect was more to redirect political debate than to resolve political tension” (Mark Douglas McGarvie, One Nation Under Law: America’s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State (DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005), p. 13).


Incorporation of churches became an issue for the Baptists in the colonies which carried over to the states in the new nation. In the 1700s, various denominations, including Baptists, in the colony of Rhode Island “took advantage of the absence of religious establishment by incorporating to address a wide range of church goals” (Ibid., p. 98).

“Pennsylvania’s laws on religious corporations demonstrate the changing attitudes toward churches and the transformation in the tenets underlying law from the colonial era to the early republic…. In the early republic, churches were redefined, under law, as private organizations serving private and not public goals” (Ibid., pp. 98-99)  In the colonial era Pennsylvania and New York had a longer history of incorporating churches than did the other colonies. The New York legislature passed a law allowing all Protestant sects to incorporate in the 1760s. The New York Constitution of 1777 provided for “free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference” (Ibid., pp. 89, 109-110).

“[T]he developing laws of private property, enforced through contracts, were given early expression to redefine the roles of churches in American society” in a 1784 New York case involving Trinity Church who had received land in a letter from Queen Anne in 1714. The case held that “contracts made with the Crown or its agent were valid, even when made during war when the king’s authority was denied by the colonists in the midst of revolution.” “After the judicial recognition of contract rights as superior to legislative enactment, the legislature had little choice but to limit its disestablishment initiatives to comply with the prevailing contract-law doctrine.” As a result, new law was passed allowing all sects to incorporate and hold property—“the law created a new system of general incorporation for all religious bodies to follow.” All churches in the state incorporated under the new law (Ibid., pp. 112-113).

At the same time that laws providing for incorporation of churches were being made, the churches were being redefined as private entities, and care of the poor and needy was passing from the church to the state. Prior to disestablishment, taxes collected by the state were transferred to churches for salaries of pastors, building, and charities. With disestablishment, charity went with the money, that is, with the state which could collect taxes, and not with the church. Rather than perceiving churches as helping society address its concerns, churches in the 1790s were recognized as impediments to social progress as public institutions might rationally conceive of it (See, e.g., Ibid., pp. 118-119).

In South Carolina, “[d]isestablishment once more followed and conformed to the legal separation of public and private spheres.” The 1790 constitution of South Carolina guaranteed religious liberty and transformed the church into a private institution “when its power as a public institution became too threatening” (Ibid., p. 132).  After 1790, poor relief, record keeping, and education to a lesser degree passed from church responsibility to government or private citizen responsibility (Ibid., p. 148).

In Massachusetts, Isaac Backus and others were against incorporation of churches, but many Baptist churches did not heed their counsel. The issue arose because of the adoption of Article Three to the constitution of Massachusetts in 1780. Isaac Backus and other Baptists vehemently opposed its adoption. Article Three required that compulsory religious taxes be laid in each parish, as they had always been for the “support the public worship of God,” and for the “support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality.” However, new was the requirement that “these taxes were to be laid upon all sects or for all sects.” “Any Protestant minister, of whatever sect, was guaranteed compulsory tax support and the minister of any sect could, if he received the majority of votes of a parish, become legally established” (William G. McLoughlin, Isaac Backus and the American Piestic Tradition (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1967), p. 147).

After adoption of Article Three, certain Baptists refused to pay the religious tax. One, Elijah Balkcom, was jailed and paid the tax under duress. He then sued the accessors for taxing him illegally and contrary to his constitutional right to freedom of conscience. Although the Baptist position prevailed in that case, another case two years later, Cutter v. Frost, reversed the Balkcom decision. The Superior Court in the Cutter case reconstructed Article Three against the intent of the legislators and said that dissenters had to file a certificate in order to have their taxes paid to their own church and that “only religious societies incorporated by law were under any circumstances entitled to legal recognition.” “To be incorporated, each dissenting congregation would have to petition the legislature to obtain a charter.” Hence the Superior Court closed the door to the liberty which Backus had proclaimed could not be shut after the Balkcom case. The Cutter decision “denied any way for the Baptists to avoid supporting the parish churches except by petitioning the legislature for incorporation.” Petitioning the government for incorporation “was an even more flagrant infringement of conscience than giving in certificates; it acknowledged the power of the State over the Church—the power to incorporate some and not others according to its own standards” (Ibid., pp. 158-163).

Another alternative, which was opposed by Backus, was proposed and tried—a taxpayer could file a certificate, pay the tax and, should the parish treasurer fail to pay the taxes to his own pastor, sue to have his taxes returned on the basis that the tax denied his constitutional right to freedom of conscience. This method was costly and time consuming and had to be done case by case. However, it was used with some degree of success.

Because of Cutter,many Baptist churches chose to incorporate. Hezekiah Smith led the movement of Baptist churches to incorporate in spite of opposition of Isaac Backus and the Warren Association. Many Baptists supported incorporation to comply with the Cutter case so that the state would return taxes paid by Baptists to their parishes, and to make possible contracts between the members of a church and its pastor, which assured a decent salary. Of course, Backus took the biblical position, seeing the relationship between pastor and other church members as spiritual. He believed that incorporation “acknowledged the right of the state to decide which churches could and could not be chartered,” and “gave all persons in the congregation [whether saved or not, thereby ‘allowing the unconverted members to outvote the converted’] the right to vote on building or repairing a meetinghouse as well as paying the minister’s salary” thereby bringing the same conflicts encountered by Congregational parishes. Other reasons for arguing for incorporation was to allow churches to hold property or endowment funds in the name of the church. Backus “pointed out that the law gave the deacons, or any other suitably appointed persons, the power to ‘receive and hold estates or donations which are given for religious purposes, and to manage the same at the direction and for the good of the church or society.’” Some Baptists incorporated, against Backus’ advice, to avoid distraint or imprisonment. The Religious Liberty Act of 1811 reversed the Cutter Case and applied Article Three to all churches whether incorporated or not (Ibid., pp. 220-223).

After the ratification of the Constitution, the United States Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice John Marshall, relied on the contract clause of Article I Section 10 to delineate public and private actions. “[Most c]hurches adapted to the new legal environment after 1790 by reforming themselves as private voluntary associations assuming a corporate form” (McGarvie, p. 115). The primary case in the Marshall Court decisions is the Dartmouth College case in which the Court used the contract clause to prevent New Hampshire’s legislature from breaking its contract of incorporation and restructuring the organization of a private Christian school (See Ibid., pp. 12, 152-189). Prior to Dartmouth College, “state legislatures consistently repudiated school and university charters in order to redesign educational institutions to serve political ends” (Ibid., p. 165).

Britain chartered the institution in Dartmouth College as The Trustees of Dartmouth College in 1769. Under the charter, the Trustees of Dartmouth College was an independent corporation, not requiring any further “grant, license, or conformation” (17 U.S. (4 Wheat) at 522). The college was supported by both private and state funds. The college fell under the control of orthodox conservatives who wished to emphasize the God in people’s lives and to modify the curricula appropriately. Restrictions on students were increased in 1809, and “students objecting to increased restrictions rioted, becoming drunk, burning outhouses, vandalizing more orthodox students’ rooms, firing guns into the night air, and spreading garbage over the campus environs of their suspected enemies” (McGarvie, p. 167). A public and political debate ensued pitting republican enlightenment ideals against conservative religious beliefs. The establishment of religion was at the time also being hotly debated. “Republican interests focused on the trustees of the college as dangerous ideologues inhibiting the state’s progress” (Ibid., p. 169). A republican governor and republican majority were elected in the 1816 New Hampshire election. One of the first acts of the new government was to restructure Dartmouth College. Two more followed quickly. The acts amended the charter to allow the state government to restructure the charter, rename the corporation to Trustees of Dartmouth University and the name of the school, and increased the number of trustees by nine, from twelve to twenty-one, and named the governor as the source of all new trustees and of future replacements. “Even more significant was that the act created a board of overseers, appointed by the governor to govern the university, to undertake most of the responsibilities formerly held by the trustees. The board was authorized to approve or negate any action of the trustees to appoint and remove the president and officers of the university, to set their salaries, to establish professorships, to create new buildings, and to approve all faculty appointments” (Ibid., p. 171 citing Dartmouth College, pp. 540-544).

The legislature also expanded religious freedom at Dartmouth.

The trustees fought the new laws. The president of Dartmouth, Reverend Francis Brown, outlined the philosophical divide confronting the Court, New Hampshire, and the country:

“That the labours of the philosopher were so impotent, and the preaching of the apostle attended with such energy is not strange. The mind of Plato, after all his attainments, was involved in spiritual darkness. Paul, on the other hand, was irradiated with a light from heaven, strong and clear; and the same divine spirit, who at first imparted it to his own mind, accompanied it as it was conveyed from him to his fellow man…. If instead of placing Paul in contrast with Plato alone, I had supposed all the philosophers of Greece and Rome arrayed on one side against this single apostle, the general result would have been the same” (Ibid., p. 172, citing Brown, “Sermon,” pp. 19-20).

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court which denied the state the right to unilaterally reconstruct the corporation. The main importance of the case is not in the protection of contract rights, or to decide whether a governmental creation was entitled to less protection from the government than other contracts. Those issues had been resolved in prior cases (Fletcher v. Peck, 10 U.S. (6 Cranch) 87 (1810); Terret v. Taylor, 13 U.S. 43 (1815)). The main importance of the case is in the reasoning of the Court which “expressed the Court’s perception of distinct realms of public and private action, and the role of the courts in the protection of private action from public action” (McGarvie, p. 175). According to Marshall, public institutions are not defined by their purposes, but as being part of the “civil government.” He reasoned that trustees and professors have no authority in or power over civil government, that they are not public officers and have no public duties (Dartmouth College, pp. 601-602, 635, 636). Thus, certain corporations are public and others private:

“The Dartmouth College case of 1819 was the crucial national pronouncement that repositioned the churches as private entities distinct from institutions of public governance. The decision expressed a new model of civic organization conceived with the Constitution. However, the legal model considered form rather than substance, imposing a private-public distinction and designating separate forums in which the two worldviews would hold sway. In this resolution, law perpetuated the contest between the two worldviews that form the intellectual basis of American culture” (McGarvie, p. 16).
“Arising out of the disestablishment controversy in New Hampshire, this decision sounded the death knell for New England establishment and confirmed the supremacy of liberal contract-law doctrine in all of the United States. Focusing on the contract clause of the Constitution, the Supreme Court recognized distinct private and public institutions and protected the former from interference by the latter. The old question of religious or church involvement in serving the public good, particularly in public education, was at the heart of the Dartmouth case” (Ibid., p. 152).

The case had other ramifications. Marshall wrote: “Charitable, or public spirited individuals, desirous of making permanent appropriations for charitable or other useful purposes, find it impossible to effect their design securely, and certainly, without an incorporation act” (Dartmouth College, p. 637). Thus, “unincorporated charitable institutions are too vague to receive bequests of decedents, as their intentions cannot be given definite assurance of fulfillment without a corporate charter and an organization that establishes parameters for the future use of funds” (McGarvie, p. 178). The same year, Marshall found that a court of equity could not establish “a vague legacy, the object of which is indefinite” even though the intentions of a testator to leave much of his estate to the Philadelphia Baptist Association were obvious, because “a court could not create a legal entity in order to enable it to receive a bequest consistent with a testator’s intent…. Without incorporation, under which the trustees were legally committed to serve the enunciated purposes, the funds left to an association had no assurance of being used for any specific end” (Ibid., p. 179 commenting upon Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion in Trustees of the Philadelphia Baptist Association v. Hart’s Executors, 17 U.S. (3 Wheat) 1 (1819).).

  • Also, “After the Dartmouth College decision, government could not rely upon private philanthropic associations to address public perceptions of societal needs. The public-private distinction required states to define their priorities more carefully. No longer could states delegate to private concerns the responsibility for educating young people, caring for the poor, or creating roadways, because states could no longer exercise control over how these private concerns fulfilled their duties. To continue to rely on private concerns after 1819 risked creating educational, welfare, or infrastructure systems significantly at odds with legislative perceptions of the pubic interest.…
  • “In the process, civil society was redefined, separating governmental institutions from private charitable corporations. Religiously affiliated private associations pursuing their own goals remained viable on the institutional periphery of society. Marshall’s language in the Dartmouth College case expressed a major change in attitude from an earlier era: ‘These eleemosynary institutions do not fill the place which would otherwise be occupied by government, but that which would otherwise remain vacant’” (Ibid., p. 178).

Thus, the public and private spheres were divided with private spheres free to pursue their own visions for civil society, and the electorate would determine the public course of action. Protection was provided through the enforcement of contracts, an enlightenment device. The religion of secular humanism, the “religion of the republic,” “reduced Christian doctrine to its lowest common denominator, essentially a code of moral behavior expressed in the golden rule, and positioned God as a benevolent but uninvolved creator of natural laws” (Ibid., p. 188).

Since the Constitution did not recognize God in His exalted position of Supreme Sovereign of the nation and since it created a law modeled after biblical principles, including the biblical principle of separation of church and state, but leavened by some enlightenment principles, the direction of the nation in the long run could only be a much faster downward slide than if the founding documents had been formulated totally upon solid biblical principle under God.

Churches which incorporated under enlightenment principles were no longer truly free since the state created them, was their sovereign as to the earthly matters required by incorporation, and they were bound to comply with the terms of contracts which conflicted with biblical principles.

Spurious rationale for church Incorporation: limited liability/Incorporation Increases liability of church members


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 10, 2012
Revised April 15, 2014


 This is a modified version of Section VI, Chapter 6 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application;  Chapter 6 of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?


Contents:

I. Preface
II. Introduction
III. Protection from liability for the debts of the corporation
IV. Protection against torts and criminal acts
V. Protection for liability due to contract violations
VI. Conclusion
VII. Links to article on Internal Revenue Code laws as well as direct links to those laws

I. Preface

The author is thankful that the church he is a member of a church which is under Christ and Christ alone. Charity Baptist Tabernacle of Amarillo, Texas is a spiritual entity, not a legal entity such as a non-profit corporation with Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) status. His pastor, Benjamin Hickam, and the other members of Charity Baptist Tabernacle hold the relationship of Christ and His church on a high level, just as they have honored their earthly marriage relationships. They refuse to compromise that relationship.

To totally understand all the issues and sub-issues involved with church incorporation, one must not only have extensive knowledge of Biblical principles, but he must also have an understanding of history and law. You see, the issue of the relationship between church and state is very important to God and His Word completely explains His desired relationship. Historically, true Christians understood the importance of this relationship, and they stood up for their relationship even though they suffered greatly for their stand on this issue—they were imprisoned, drowned, beheaded, burned at the stake, hung, tortured, etc. because they loved their Savior and were willing to do all that He asked them to do.

According to the Word of God and the application of the principles concerning church, government, and separation of church and state, church incorporation displeases God. The author has done exhaustive studies of those principles and their application to incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exemption of churches. The results of those studies are available for free on this website.

II. Introduction

Today, the most common reasons given by churches for incorporating and seeking 501(c)(3) status are (1) to obey every ordinance of man (2) limited liability; (3) to allow a church to hold property; (4) convenience—it is easier to get a tax deduction for tithes and offerings given to an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization than for tithes and offerings given to a New Testament church; (5) one’s convictions; and (6) winning souls is  more important than loving God; if a church is incorporated, don’t cause problems. Just continue winning souls because winning souls is more important than anything else, including loving God.

This article will deal with the second false reason, limited liability. Other articles cover the other five reasons:  

  1. Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses When a pastor is asked why his church is incorporated, he will often quickly answer: “Because of Romans 13 [Romans 13:1-2 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Or “We are to obey every ordinance of man.” He may also rely on some other verses. All these verses are examined in this online booklet which is also in online PDF form on this website. Not only that, no law requires a church to get incorporated or apply for 501(c)(3) status or claim 508 status. Instead, the highest law in America protects the right of churches to choose to remain free from corporate and 501(c)(3) or 508 status. See, e.g., First Amendment Protection of New Testament Churches/Federal Laws Protecting State Churches (Religious Organizations) 
  2. Limited liability (corporate status actually increases the liability of church members) (Section VI, Chapter  of God Betrayed; Chapter 6 of Separation of Church and State).
  3. Spurious rationale for incorporating: to hold property (Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed; Chapter 7 of Separation of Church and State).
  4. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: tax exemption and tax deductions for contributions OR Tax reasons given for church corporate 501(c)(3) status: a biblical and legal analysis (Section VI, Chapter 8 of God Betrayed; Chapter 8 of Separation of Church and State).
  5. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: one’s convictions (Not included in God Betrayed or Separation of Church and State).
  6. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: winning souls is more important than loving God/The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls.

Many incorrectly argue that a church should incorporate to protect personal assets from liability (1) for the debts of the corporation, (2) for the torts and criminal acts of the corporation, and (3) for breach of contract by the corporation. Each of these arguments will be considered in light of biblical principle. A careful consideration of the facts will reveal that not only do churches violate principles in the Word  of God and grieve our Lord when they incorporate, they also increase the exposure of their churches and church members to liability.

Remember that although a New Testament church in America may still utilize property (real and personal) in conformity to Biblical principles, she is not a legal entity who can sue and be sued. A New Testament church owns no property and operates strictly according to principles in the New Testament. The New Testament church, unlike the incorporated state church, retains her First Amendment protections as well as other protections under the constitutions and statutes of the state. The incorporated church no longer has the full protection of the First Amendment, since she now is a legal person created under the laws of her new and additional sovereign. Corporate churches, unlike New Testament churches, can even be charged with certain crimes. When a church incorporates, additional exposure is taken on—the state can, at times, charge not only individuals, but also the corporation, with crimes. The purpose of the Biblical Law Center is to help churches organize solely under  the principles of God as laid out in His Word.

The author includes citations from various legal sources. Although many will not understand the meaning of those citations, the reader more familiar with the legal system will be able to check the veracity of the supported statements. Rest assured that legal assertions made herein are backed up by the law.

III. Protection from liability for the debts of the corporation

One may argue first that incorporating a church protects his personal assets from liability for the debts of the corporation. “One of the major attributes of the corporate form of organization is that it insulates shareholders from personal liability for the debts of the corporation…. As a general rule, and in the absence of a charter, constitutional, or statutory provision to the contrary, stockholders are not liable as such for any of the obligations of a corporation. Because a corporation is an entity, separate and distinct from its officers and stockholders, its debts are not the individual indebtedness of its stockholders” (18A AM. JUR. 2D Corporations § 724).

However, limited liability is not absolute:

  • “The general rule that shareholders are not liable for corporate obligations or conduct is subject to numerous exceptions. Shareholders may be held individually liable to prevent or redress fraud, to achieve equity, or to prevent the avoidance of a legal obligation or duty.
  • “If the corporation is a mere instrumentality or alter ego of the shareholder, the corporate entity will be disregarded, and the individuals owning the stock and the corporation treated as identical, with the result that such individuals will be personally liable for the acts and obligations of the purported corporation. The limitation of liability to the corporate assets must give way to imposition of personal liability if the actions of those in control of the corporation denigrate the purpose of limited liability, which is to encourage investment of risk capital. The fact that a corporation is undercapitalized is not sufficient in itself to establish personal liability of the shareholders.
  • “Corporate creditors may reach unpaid stock subscriptions, and if a corporation is liquidated, the shareholders are liable if, otherwise, they would be unjustly enriched by retaining assets of the corporation free from the debts of the corporation” (Ibid., § 728).

Courts look at the “independent operations” to see whether to set aside the corporate form and go to individuals within the corporation for liability. “Independent operations prong of test for determining if corporate form may be disregarded looks at such things as (1) whether corporation is operated as separate entity, (2) commingling of funds and other assets, (3) failure to maintain adequate records or minutes, (4) nature of corporation’s ownership and control, (5) absence of corporate assets and undercapitalization, (6) use of corporation as mere shell, instrumentality, or conduit of individual or another corporation, (7) disregard of legal formalities and failure to maintain arms–length relationship among related entities, and (8) diversion of corporation’s funds or assets to noncorporate uses” (InterGen N.V. v. Grina, 344 F.3d 134 (1st Cir. 2003) cited in 46 A.L.R.3d 428).…

“Piercing the corporate veil is tool that courts use to prevent shareholders, who are not normally liable for corporate debts or liabilities, from hiding behind corporate shield when corporation is under their direct control; in such cases, court will disregard corporation’s identity and hold shareholder liable for corporation’s debt only where corporation has been used to commit fraud, violate a legal duty, or perpetrate a dishonest or unjust act in contravention of rights of another” (Huffman v. Poore, 6 Neb. App. 43, 569 N.W.2d 549 (1997) cited in 46 A.L.R.3d 428).

Also, most lenders require sureties to  the loan. The assets of those sureties are at risk in the event of default. When a church takes a loan, every member should consider themselves as guarantors, since a church is defined by God as a body made up of all the members.

Not only is limited liability for corporations (including non-profit corporations such as churches who choose to become religious organizations under state laws of incorporation) not absolute under the laws of their state sovereign, God holds churches to a high standard. What does the Bible say about debt and repayment of debts? First, neither a Christian nor a church should go into debt. “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Ro. 13.8-10).

The Bible does not say “owe no man any thing unless you have to borrow money to build bigger church buildings, gyms, bingo halls, sports fields and facilities, cafeterias, fellowship halls, and/or any other type structures for the church.” Notice that the commandment not to covet is also included. Most importantly, notice the importance placed on love. Will a Christian who loves his neighbor seek to protect himself from debts he owes to others; debts which the Word of God instructed him not to enter into?

“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” (Lu. 16.10-13). “Mammon” means: “Riches, wealth; or the god of riches. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Matt. vi” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “MAMMON”)

Thus, churches which go into debt for buildings or anything else distort themselves and become servants of the lender and money, not servants of God. “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Pr. 22.7). Pastors of churches who are serving mammon will find that they fear to preach everything God has laid on their hearts because they might offend some, especially rich Pharisees, who might either leave the church and/or cause problems within the church. Failure to preach the whole gospel is displeasing to the Lord.

Christians and churches are to seek godliness, not worldly riches:

“Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.  But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;  Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (I Ti. 6.5-19).

The above verses speak to the saved person who is the temple of God, and, along with other believers, constitute a church body. Nowhere in the New Testament can one find a single verse condoning a church seeking riches and real or personal property. Rather, Christians are to be content with what they have. They are not to go into debt. If they will do the jobs God has given them, lusting after real property and other worldly things will vanish from their hearts and minds. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (He. 13.5-6).

And as long as a church maintains her New Testament status and remains under Christ alone, she can own nothing since she is a spiritual entity. As will be shown, a church can utilize property in ways which conform to biblical principles.

The apostles, and true Christians in their church body down through the ages, have been careful not to seek worldly riches; and they preached the whole counsel of God no matter who was offended. Nothing was ever mentioned in the Word of God about the early church seeking real or personal property. Churches assembled on property, but churches did not own property. The goals of churches and individual Christians were spiritual, not earthly. Individual Christians, at times, even went further than required by biblical principles. “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Ac. 2.44-47).

Thus, a New Testament church should not go into debt and should occupy property in a manner consistent with biblical principles. If a church does go into debt, God desires that she pay that debt back. Since the members made the debt, they are responsible for honoring God and man and paying the debt as agreed.

IV. Protection against torts and criminal acts

As to torts and criminal acts, anyone—no matter the kind of church he is a member of—is liable for his own tort or crime or for any tort or crime in which he participated or encouraged. In other words, should a member of either type church be directly connected to criminal or tortuous acts, that member is not insulated.

  • “Stockholders are not ordinarily liable for the tortious acts of a corporation unless they participate in or aid the commission of such acts. An individual’s liability for the tortious conduct of corporation depends upon that individual’s acts, and not upon any theory of vicarious liability based upon the individual’s status as an owner. For example, a stockholder is individually liable for constructive fraud committed by a corporation only if he or she had knowledge of and instigated the fraud.
  • “Caution: The rule shielding shareholders from liability for a corporation’s torts do not shield shareholders from personal liability in tort for their own misfeasance or nonfeasance, including liability for negligence; a shareholder may be liable if he or she is the central figure in a corporation’s tortious conduct. For example, a shareholder may be held personally liable for negligent acts in managing and supervising the employees of corporation, if those acts are a contributing factor in causing an injury” (18A AM. JUR. 2DCorporations § 726 (2007)).

A New Testament church cannot be and is not liable for the tort or crime of a member or members since she is not a legal entity. People in a New Testament church may commit and be held accountable for torts or crimes, but the church herself cannot commit a tort or crime. If only one or more in a New Testament church commit a crime or tort, the entire church cannot be charged or sued unless everyone in the church was involved. A Christian is not exempt from being falsely accused of a tort and/or a crime; and a Christian can walk in the flesh and commit or participate in a tort and/or a crime if he so chooses.

“It has been held that shareholders [or members] are not liable for a corporation’s violations of state or local statutes, ordinances, or regulations in the absence of proof of active participation in the management of the corporation or the wrongs. However, it has also been held that the purpose behind incorporating is not to protect those who control a corporation from answering for its criminal actions” (Ibid., § 727). Furthermore, not only individuals within a corporate church, but also the corporation itself is subject to state penal laws criminalizing certain acts of corporations, including non-profits:

“The view taken in the early cases that a corporation is not indictable for a criminal offense has long been abandoned, and it is now almost universally recognized that a corporation is not per se exempt from criminal prosecution. Courts and legislative bodies tend to impose the same standards of criminal responsibility upon corporations as upon natural persons…. a corporation cannot be sent to jail; the discharge of its liabilities, whether criminal or civil, can be effected only by the payment of money. Thus, it has been held in a number of cases that where an offense is one which can be committed by a corporation, and where the penalty provided is a fine, the corporation is liable to criminal prosecution…. The proposition that a corporation is amenable to criminal prosecution for offenses punishable by fine is also supported by cases holding that a corporation may be prosecuted for offenses punishable by fine and imprisonment … or by fine or imprisonment, or both…. It is also implicitly supported by myriads of cases in which corporations have been fined.” (80 A.L.R.3d 1220).

A New Testament church has safeguards, in addition to her supernatural and legal protections: she will not be involved with all the worldly matters with which an incorporated “church” and its members are involved and which give the incorporated church and its members and officers opportunities and temptations for wrongdoing. The member of a church who loves the Lord and has his eyes on spiritual, as opposed to material, matters will be more likely to love his neighbor and to behave in a pious manner. The member of any church should understand that not only the state, but also—and primarily—God, desires him to be liable for and make restitution for damages to another caused by his tort or crime or for any tort or crime with which he knowingly, intentionally, recklessly, or with negligence participates.

V. Protection for liability due to contract violations

A person is not ordinarily liable on contracts entered into by a corporation in which he or she owns stock. However, if a stockholder makes a contract as an individual, he or she is liable (18A AM. JUR. 2D Corporations, § 725).

“A shareholder may expressly guarantee a corporate obligation. A shareholder’s contract unconditionally guaranteeing payment of the corporation’s debts is not abrogated by negligence of the creditor that results in the debt not being discharged in bankruptcy. Whether a shareholder has guaranteed the credit of the corporation so as to become personally liable on its obligations in a particular case is a question of fact for the jury” (Ibid., § 730).

A New Testament church, being a spiritual entity, will not and cannot enter into any type of contract. Contract is an enlightenment principle which is antithetical to biblical principle. The author explains this principle in his writings and audio teachings (Go to, e.g., the following links: “Separation of Church and State Law Blog” (click the following link, “Union of Church and State in America, and scroll down and click on the audio teaching “6. Incorporation of Churches;” or click the following link, “Radio Broadcast,” and scroll down and click on the audio teaching segments under Section VI, Chapter 2, “Incorporation of Churches.” You will also find the teaching on this principle in Section VI, Chapter 2 of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application and Chapter 3 of Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities for which ordering information is available by clicking the following link: “Order Information for Books by Jerald Finney.”).

Should a church violate God’s principles by incorporating and entering into contracts, the Lord expects that church to honor those contracts at all costs (See Section III above).

VI. Conclusion

In conclusion, churches who incorporate dishonor the Lord and His principles concerning His desired relationship between church and state. Christians are responsible to God to study His Word and make the practical application of His Word to real life. The relationship between Christ and His churches is very important to Him.

“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” (Ep. 5.25-27).

That relationship has been so important to Christians since the beginning of the Church that they have been willing to die rather than to dishonor it by becoming members of the established Catholic and Protestant churches or other state-church combinations. How important is that relationship to you and your church?

VII. Links to Internal Revenue Code Laws

You can read portions of the following Internal Revenue Code laws which pertain to churches and pastors by going to the following site: “Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself”; or you may read an entire law online by clicking the following links:

  1.  § 501(c)(3). Exemption from tax on corporations, certain trusts, etc.
  2. § 508. Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations
  3. § 7611. Restrictions on church tax inquiries and examinations
  4. § 1402. [Dealing with taxes on income of pastors]
  5. § 107. Rental value of parsonages
  6. § 102. Gifts and inheritances (Tithes and offerings are gifts and, therefore, according to the Internal Revenue Code § 102, not income)
  7. § 2503. Taxable gifts
  8. § 170. Charitable, etc., contributions and gifts

END