Copyright © March, 2010
All articles on this blog may also be accessed from the following link:
“Separation of Church and State Law Blog,” the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com)
I. Letter No. 1
II. My Reply to Letter No. 1
III. Letter No. 2
IV. My Reply to Letter No. 2
V. Letter No. 3
VI. My Reply to Letter No. 3
VII. Letter No. 4
VIII. My Reply to Letter No. 4
IX. Pastor’s Response to My Reply to Letter No. 4
X. My Reply to Pastor’s Response
XI. Letter No. 5
XII. My Reply to Letter No. 5
XIV. Links to IRS Laws
Click maroon or blue colored links to go directly to the linked articles, websites, etc.
This article gives some pastors’ e-mails with their comments and questions concerning articles on this blog, and my replies to those e-mails. This is the second article on this blog with letters from pastors. The first article was What Pastors Are Saying in Response to this “Separation of Church and State Law” Blog (click link to go to article).
I will publish future articles on other e-mails from pastors because these e-mails not only raise important questions which need to be addressed, but also give insights into the thoughts of pastors on issues such as church incorporation and 501(c)(3).
You probably have received and possibly read some of my articles on this blog. Click this link, “Separation of Church and State Law Blog,” for links to all the articles on this “Separation of Church and State Law” blog.
I. Letter No. 1 (Received October 21, 2009:):
Bro. Finney…Thank you for the email. Where did you get my info? I am the pastor of ________________ Church in ______________, TN. We have recently formed a church and were debating about incorporation. This is very intersesting, we merged with another church that was incorporated and were about to just chnge the name on the incorporation, even though it is a whole new church. I asked God to stop me if it was ot His will, and I got your email out of the blue. I would love to talk to you and get the other side of the story. What is your #, Mine is ______________________.
“Ye Must be born again”
II. My Reply to Letter No. 1:
Dear Pastor _______________,
My phone nos. are: C: 512-785-8445; H: 512-385-0761. It would be an honor to discuss this with you. I still have some work to do, then going on visitation and church. I will try to call you as soon as I can get my work done, or feel free to call me at anytime.
For His Glory,
Bro. Jerald Finney
Note. I did call this dear brother
III. Letter No. 2 (received December 19, 2009 Pastor gave me permission to use his identifying information.):
Dear Brother [Finney],
I briefly read your article on Separation of Church and State.
When we planted Fellowship Baptist Church in Cumberland R.I. in 1997, I was getting counsel from my sending church on how to write-up the “articles of incorporation” to become “legitimate” .
I praise the Lord that my eyes were open to God’s wisdom and shut to man’s foolishness. As I was reading through the laws of what incorporation meant, it struck me like a lightening bolt that Caesar and of course the devil were immediately seeking to control the church that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shed His precious blood for. The State IS NOT the head of the church and if it becomes the head through incorporation, then one has immediately surrendered.
Incorporation is a way for these State run entities to protect their lands and buildings. Of course when Peter warned of false prophets making merchandise out of the brethren, clearly the LORD saw our modern day “churches” being run as businesses.
I have had some professed believers who would not join the church because of us not being incorporated. Clearly, taking this stance separates the sheep from the goats.
I praise God for your article and will share it with the brethren.
In the Love of Christ Jesus,
Fellowship Baptist Church
Cumberland, Rhode Island
IV. My Reply to Letter No. 2:
Dear Pastor Manzoni,
Praise the Lord for men of God like you! Any man of God who believes God’s Word should have your insights, but many professors do not. It is an encouragement to hear from you. The Lord called me into this ministry in 2005, and since then I have spent thousands of hours in research as well as writing and speaking on the issue. As you might suspect, many pastors do not respond to this message as you have. It is encouraging every time I meet another pastor or Christian who realizes the importance of this issue to our Lord.
With your permission, I would like to use your letter. It may be a month or two before I publish it. If you do not want your church or name mentioned, I will delete names.
As I teach in my books, articles, etc., members of a corporate church have less protection than a New Testament church. First a New Testament church has the blessing and power of God, which a state church does not have. Second, if church property is held properly by a New Testament church, church members have more protection than do members of state churches.
For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney
V. Letter No. 3 (Received October 15, 2009):
Are you saying we should not be registered?
VI. My Reply to Letter No. 3:
Dear Brother _________________,
It is not what I say or think about an issue. The real question is, “What does the Word of God teach on this issue. That is, what are the biblical principles concerning this issue?” So, first one must understand the biblical principles involved – in this case, the biblical principles concerning church, state, and separation of church and state. Then, one must apply fact to principle to see if principle is being violated.
This is what I do in the studies provided. A pastor or other Christian can study the teachings. This gives one a reference point to consider these issues. Most pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and other Christians today have never looked at these principles. Christ loved the church and gave himself for it that he migh sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (Ep. 5.25-26). The epistles of Paul develop the doctrine of the church who was jealous over the church with a godly jealousy. As Paul wrote “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his sutilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (1 Co. 11.2-3). The principles of civil government are also laid out in the Bible as is the principle of separation of church and state. Millions have and continue to give their lives for these principles, but not in America.
It is your love relationship with the Lord that is affected. When an individual and a church violates that relationship, not only is our Lord is grieved but also there are bad consequences.
Thanks for your interest in this matter.
For His Glory,
Bro. Jerald Finney
VII. Letter No. 4 (Received January 16, 2010):
I have been a fundamental Baptist pastor for almost 40 years. My dad was a IFB pastors for 50 years. The churches involved are/were all 501(c)(3). I have never witnessed any government interference or encroachment into church affairs.
VIII. My Reply to Letter No. 4:
Dear Pastor __________________,
There are many good pastors who have never studied either the biblical principles of church, state, and separation of church and state or the facts about the nature of incorporation and 501(c)(3). When a born-again believer does not do such a study, he is easily led astray in the matter of church organization since he does not know or understand those very important biblical principles. Most of the “fundamental Baptist churches” in America are not following God’s principles of organization for His churches. The Bible makes clear that God desires us to continue in His Word so that we may know the truth and so that we may grow and proceed in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in this spiritual warfare we are in.
In fact, the civil government will not interfere in your church affairs as long as you abide by the rules you agreed to when you took the 501(c)(3). When a church gets a 501(c)(3) exemption, she violates biblical principles and grieves our Lord. 501(c)(3) originally had no rules. Five rules or requirements for 501(c)(3) organizations have been added to the law since Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) was initially enacted, four of which were added by legislation and one by the Internal Revenue Service and upheld by Supreme Court decision. There is nothing a religious organization can do to stop further rules from being added to 501(c)(3) or to remove those already there because the controlling party to the agreement initiated by 501(c)(3) status is the federal government.
In order to get the 501(c)(3) a church must be a legal entity such as a corporation. The facts about incorporation and 501(c)(3) prove that for a church to incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status violates many biblical principles and grieves our Lord.
The heretical teaching that 501(c)(3) and incorporation of churches is acceptable to God displeases our Lord and leads to further heresy and finally to apostasy. The steps in the downfall of a nation, according to the Bible, are religious apostasy, moral awfulness, and political anarchy. We are well into the third stage in America.
Fundamental Baptist churches who have incorporated and obtained 510(c)(3) status display the results of heresy to one degree or another. Of course, those churches do not even realize their error and the results; but the consequences of their ignorance, whether willful or not, is on display. Since they have no power of God or a diluted power of God, the world sees nothing in them that is attractive, nor do I or other knowledgeable Christians.
I get into these matters in great detail in my books, audio teachings, and articles.
For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney, BBA, JD
IX. Pastor’s response to my reply to Letter No. 4:
Dear brother Finney,
I have annotated several comments below for your consideration. I find it of interest that you as a lawyer consider yourself to have greater understanding of Scripture than ordained men of God who have spent a lifetime studying the Word. What would you think if I as a layman to the legal arena had read some books on law and therefore were making pronouncements about how lawyers should discharge their law practice? By the way, as the founding pastor of this church, I personally filled out the papers to incorporate with the State of Minnesota and then the 501(c)(3) application myself and did not use a lawyer. The Minnesota not-for-profit papers are renewed each year (or 3 years whatever) on a 3″x5″ post card or more recently a couple of clicks on the internet. I am aware of the benefits of incorporation and have never seen any of the supposed problems thereof in the real-life work of the church.
X. My reply to His response:
Dear Pastor __________________,
A lot of the ordained men of God who have studied the relevant principles agree with me. The problem is that many who do not agree with me have not studied the principles, facts, history, or legalities; nor were they taught these matters in church, Bible College or Seminary, or by the “Christian” lawyers who make millions helping state churches or helping churches to become state churches.
I have been saved since 1982. I was saved in a revival meeting at a non-incorporated, non-501(c)(3) Baptist church. Of course I had no idea that the church was non-incorporated or non-501(c)(3) at that time. I knew nothing about such matters. However, for the first time in my life, I saw the power of God at work.
Since that time, I have been faithful to church and faithful to studying the Bible. In addition to the teaching from my pastors, I read the Bible, heard and took notes on thousands of sermons since I rarely missed church services and attended camp meetings where many pastors preached and taught, and followed the teaching of Dr. J. Vernon McGee for many years. I have been an active particpant in many ministries, a faithful tither and giver, etc.
In 2003, I began an intense study of the biblical principles of church, state, and separation of church and state. I have read many, many other books dealing with those issues, and was called by God, in 2005, to actively deal with those issues. I wrote my findings in my writings, beginning with God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. Before I published it, I gave it to several pastors, including my own pastor, and asked for them to critique it. I received feedback from a few. My pastor said the book was OK to publish.
After publishing the book, I gave copies to probably 50 or more pastors, missionaries, Bible teachers, and other Christians, besides those who have bought the book. I asked for honest feedback. I told everyone, and continue to do so, “Tell me where you believe I am wrong and I will be glad to have a congenial and honest discussion to see if you can convince me I am wrong.”
The result has been that many have praised or agreed with the book. However, those Christians and pastors who are against it, but cannot refute it (or just do not take the time to study it), get mad, usually as soon as they learn that I am crusading against churches becoming incorporated and getting 501(c)(3) status or becoming legal entities in any way, and that I believe doing so is contrary to the will of God as laid out in His Word.
I have met very few pastors, Christians, lawyers or anyone else, as a percentage, who have done a study of the biblical principles of church, state, and separation of church and state; and I have met very few who have studied incorportion, 501(c)(3) or the other methods of becoming a legal entity. Especially of note is that I have never met the pastor of an incorporated, 501(c)(3) who has a clue about the relevant biblical principles and facts, both legal and historical. I see, for the most part, the blind leading the blind.
It is easy for a church to incorporate and get a 501(c)(3) exemption. It is just a matter of filling out forms. Anyone of average intelligence can fill out forms. Thank God you did not abuse God’s money by using a lawyer to do that. However, understanding the law, facts, and biblical principles concerning what you were doing is something entirely different. How many hours have you spent to understand those matters?
I invite you to critique my books. In order to do that, you must read and study them, as well as the Word of God, with an open mind as led by the Holy Spirit. It will be well worth the effort because “Christ loved the church and gave himself, for it;” because He likens His church to His wife, his bride over whom He desires to be the only Head; because He is jealous of His church, etc. Let me say that there are problems with incorporation and 501(c)(3), but only one who is walking in the Spirit according to knowledge, wisdom, and understanding can see them.
All born again believers, including pastors, have a responsibility to study the Word of God. The Holy Spirit leads them into truth when they diligently continue in God’s Word. Every one of us is responsible for growing in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
I am not your enemy. Actually, I was sent by God to help those who have an ear to hear. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:22).
For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney
XI. Letter No. 5 (Received 12/28/09):
Dear Jerald Finney, JD
I’m the Pastor of an Independent Baptist church in Texas. I find your information very informative . Now comes my question if our church iscurrently a 501 (c) (3) what can we do to leave the governments program . Would we face legal repercussions. Please when you have time advise me .
Sincerely In Christ,
XII. My Reply to Letter No. 5:
Dear Pastor ________________,
In order to properly advise you, I need to talk to you. There is absolutely no charge for my services. Should you decide to go forward, I do ask a love gift for my legal associate who does the ground work. She is highly qualified, and I do ask a love offering for her services since she has given her life to serving the Lord in this cause.
Can you all me at 512-385-0761 (H&O) or 512-785-8445?
For His Glory,
Note. Pastor ______________ called and we discussed this matter.
My conclusions from reading and responding to these e-mails, as I believe you will agree, is that:
“the understanding of the biblical principles, history, law, and facts among pastors varies widely. Some pastors are like secularists in that they have no spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and understanding and refuse to (and maybe cannot) look at the issues with an open mind. Some rely on their opinions as opposed to the Word of God as the basis for what they believe. Many take Scriptural verses completely out of context to support their erroneous views. Others are eager to please the Lord, and seek to increase their knowledge about these preeminent matters. Some already have some degree of understanding, greater or lesser, about these issues. Some are already practicing biblical principles in the area of church and state.”
XIV. Links to Internal Revenue Code Laws
You can read portions of the following Internal Revenue Code laws which pertain to churches and pastors by going to the following site: “Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself”; or you may read an entire law online by clicking the following links:
1. § 501(c)(3). Exemption from tax on corporations, certain trusts, etc.
2. § 508. Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations
3. § 7611. Restrictions on church tax inquiries and examinations
4. § 1402. [Dealing with taxes on income of pastors]
5. § 107. Rental value of parsonages
6. § 102. Gifts and inheritances (Tithes and offerings are gifts and, therefore, according to the Internal Revenue Code § 102, not income)
7. § 2503. Taxable gifts
8. § 170. Charitable, etc., contributions and gifts
The Biblical Law Center helps churches to organize as New Testament churches completely out from under civil government and under God only. See churchandstatelaw.com for contact information for Jerald Finney, counsel for the Biblical Law Center. This is a ministry, not a business enterprise. Jerald Finney has made no profit at all in this endeavor of Christian love, but rather has expended much of his own money for God’s glory, in attempting to provide information and service for God’s churches.
All conclusions in this article are opinions of the author. Please do not attempt to act in the legal system if you are not a lawyer, even if you are a born-again Christian. Many questions and finer points of the law and the interpretation of the law cannot be properly understood by a simple facial reading of a civil law. For a born-again Christian to understand American law, litigation, and the legal system as well as spiritual matters within the legal system requires years of study and practice of law as well as years of study of Biblical principles, including study of the Biblical doctrines of government, church, and separation of church and state. You can always find a lawyer or Christian who will agree with the position that an American church should become incorporated and get 501(c)(3) status. Jerald Finney will discuss the matter, as time avails, with any such person, with confidence that his position is supported by God’s Word, history, and law. He is always willing, free of charge and with love, to support his belief that for a church to submit herself to civil government in any manner grieves our Lord and ultimately results in undesirable consequences. He does not have unlimited time to talk to individuals. However, he will teach or debate groups, and will point individuals to resources which fully explain his positions.
About Jerald Finney: The author is a Christian first and a lawyer second. He has no motive to mislead you. In fact, his motivation is to tell you the truth about this matter, and he guards himself against temptation on this and other issues by doing all he does at no charge. He does not seek riches. His motivation is his love for God first and for others second. His goal is the Glory of God. Jerald Finney has been saved since 1982. God called him to go to law school for His Glory. In obedience, Finney entered the University of Texas School of Law in 1990, was licensed and began to practice law, for the Glory of God, in November of 1993. To learn more about the author click the following link: About Jerald Finney.
For His Glory
Jerald Finney, BBA, JD