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What is a Legal Entity?


A Publication of Separation of Church and State Law Ministry.


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Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 8, 2017


articlesofincorp.jpgA legal entity is a temporal earthly entity created and/or recognized by the law of man. The entity can be charged with a crime, sue and be sued, and act legally by entering into contracts, buying property, etc. Civil government has jurisdiction over legal entities.

Individuals are legal entities which are not created by the laws of man, but recognized by the laws of man. Legal speaks of earthly, temporal, as opposed to heavenly or eternal. A person in his/her right mind is a legal entity. If the person is lost, he is a legal entity only. If he is a born-again believer, he is both a legal entity and a spiritual entity. However, an earthly government cannot assume jurisdiction over his spiritual life. “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” (Matthew 10.28).

There are also legal entities which are created by the laws of man; these entities are made up of organizations of persons. Included are corporations (aggregate or sole, for-profit and non-profit), unincorporated associations, charitable trusts, business trusts, incorporated 501c3 or 508 tax exempt organizations and the list goes on. These type organizations are subject to the agreements made when they organized under man’s law.

Legal entities include associations, corporations, partnerships, proprietorships, business, charitable, and other kinds of trusts (but not simple trusts, as explained below), or individuals that have legal standing in the eyes of law. Neither God nor the spirit of God have anything to do with their organization, operation, goals, and purpose. The law calls them “artificial persons.” They can be charged with crime, sue, be sued, assume legal, temporal, earthly obligations, and act legally by entering into contracts, buying property, opening bank accounts, hiring employees, running businesses (like schools, cafes, day care centers, etc.), and so forth. Satan can infiltrate and take over legal entities since they are spiritually dead. Satan is the god of this world who orchestrates the world system.

All legal entities, other than individuals, are created by or recognized by man-made civil government law. For example, American corporations, including church non-profit corporations, are created by complying with the state corporation law. Other legal entities such as sole proprietorships, are not created by man’s law, but are recognized and controlled by man’s law since they are businesses with income; they must, for example, get an assumed name, file income tax returns, get an Employer Identification Number, pay income taxes on profits and social security taxes on employees, register with the state sale tax office and pay sales taxes, etc.

A simple trust established to  manage money and property for the benefit of a beneficiary is not a legal entity. See  Trust Explained and The Bible Trust Relationship: Links to Essays and Other Resources. Other types of trusts which are either established according to man’s law or which have income are legal entities.

Many churches choose to be both legal and spiritual entities and many are legal entities only. Some churches, the remnant, protected by the law in America–the First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions–choose to remain true to New Testament Church Doctrine and Example by remaining spiritual entities only. See Is a church a spiritual or legal entity? for more concerning this matter.

Churches, unlike businesses or charities, are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions which guarantee freedom of religion to churches. Those laws give churches a choice. Churches choose whether to become a legal entity or remain a spiritual entity only. For more on this, see Is a church a spiritual entity, a legal entity, or a spiritual/legal entity?

Click here to go to Old Paths Baptist Church Website.

Is a church a spiritual or legal entity?


A Publication of Separation of Church and State Law Ministry.


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 Jerald Finney
Copyright © November 27, 2017


To answer this question, one must define “legal entity” and “spiritual entity.” See What is a legal entity? for explanation of  “legal entity.” See What is a spiritual entity? for explanation of “spiritual entity.”

Ep.2.19-22God desires that a church be a spiritual entity, not a spiritual and legal entity. A church is composed of spiritual beings, born again believers.

  • 1 Peter 2:5 says, speaking to born again believers: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
  • Ephesians 2.19-22 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

Ephesians presents the local church. Chapters 1-3 are about the heavenly calling of the church and are doctrinal. Chapters 4-6 are about the earthly conduct of a church and are practical. Believers and churches sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus as they walk on the earth where they are to do God’s work in the family, on the job, in the church, and in the world. Click here to go to more detailed studies on the doctrine of the church from Ephesians and other books in the Bible. They are to walk in the spirit (See, for example, Galatians 5).

Ep.1.19-23_1In Ephesians 1.19-23 we learn that God set Christ “at his own right hand in heavenly places.” That is where Christ is now. God has put all things under Christ’s “feet and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (v. 22). Colossians 1:18: “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” His body is to sit with Him, walk on the earth, and be connected to Him. The body is to be connected to the Head. The New Testament makes clear that Christ desires that a church be spiritual, that all the church does be spiritual, that a church have only one head, a spiritual Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Again, a believer and a church are to be connected to Christ who is the head. A church is “his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all (23).” He made us to “sit together in Ep.1.22-23_3heavenly places in Christ Jesus” but we walk on the earth doing His Work to be led by the Spirit of God only.

Christ desires to be the only head of His churches. Ephesians 1:22 “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” Colossians 1:18 “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

The Bible has much more to say, but I believe that is enough for our purposes. That describes the church as a spiritual entity or body built by the Lord Jesus Christ over whom Christ is to be the head in all things. A church is a spiritual and eternal organism or body. See, for example, Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12 for more on that.

A church can choose to be what God wants it to be, an eternal spiritual entity under God only. Or a church can choose to be a temporal earthly entity such as a 501c3 corporation under both God and man or under man only. God allows churches the choice.

Spiritual blessings follow obedience; curses follow disobedience even though a church under God and man or under man only may have some temporal earthly success for a time.

The Bible clearly teaches that the unholy always corrupts the holy when the two are combined. As history shows, the official corrupted “church” was vile to the core. The Reformers became especially aware of the corruption within the Roman “church.” Corruption is inevitable when church and state are intermixed.

To quote a great Bible teacher: “The church that sets out to spiritualize the world will soon find that the world will secularize the church. When wheat and tares compromise, it is the wheat that suffers. Light and darkness, right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error are incompatibles, and when they compromise it is the light, the right, the good, and the truth that are damaged.”[1] As Pastor Hank Thompson, has preached: “Holy means set apart for God.  You cannot bring that which is holy and unholy together without making the holy things unholy. Holy things combined with unholy things do not make the unholy holy. It always makes the holy unholy. Being around someone who is sick may make a well person sick. Being around a well person won’t make a sick person well. If you are grounded and touch the ground and a power line at the same time, you are cooked. If you try to touch God and touch the world, you will be corrupted.”[2]

TaxExemptStatusCorruptsThe Holy Bible, the basic source for all truth proclaims:

  • “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6.14-18).
  • Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16.13.)[3]

History proves this. Union of church and state corrupted the civil government, the Roman “church” and the people, except for a remnant.  It also corrupted the established Protestant churches and the nations which had established Protestant churches.

For a more thorough explanation of the doctrine of the church, see the resources in En 4.

Click here to go to Old Paths Baptist Church Website.


Endnotes

[1] W. Graham Scroggie, born 1877, twelve times the Bible teacher at the famous Keswick, England conference, They Knew Their God, Vol. 5, 194 cited in The Berean Call, February 2006, p. 5, available at www.thebereancall.org. Separation is a Biblical principle that runs throughout scripture—Pastor Hank Thompson gave a tremendous sermon on “Separation” on Sunday evening, February 12, 2006.

[2] “Separation.” Sermon preached at Capitol City Baptist Church in Austin, Texas by Pastor Hank Thompson, February 12, 2006. See pp. 149-150 of God Betrayed (this is a link to the PDF).

[3] The doctrine of separation is taught extensively in the Word of God.

[4] What Is a Church and What Upholds Her Integrity? [Article], Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church, The Biblical Doctrine of the Church, The Biblical Doctrine of the Church


Can a church force a homosexual to turn straight to stay in the church?

Jerald Finney
Copyright © September 9, 2015

This article presents a question on AVVO, a legal website, asked by person who practices homosexual conduct, and my answer. On September 14, 2014, I was notified that the question asker picked mine as the best answer. The following, before the article, is a copy of that notification:

BestAnswer

The following question was asked on AVVO, a legal website on 090815:

A church which is a legal entity (e.g. incorporated 501c3 church) grieves our Lord and is partially, at the least, under a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
A church which is a legal entity (e.g. incorporated 501c3 church) grieves our Lord and is partially, at the least, under a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am homosexual and my new pastor says that I have to turn straight to stay in my church. Can force me to it to be able to stay?

“I have gone to the same church for 11 years. I have never had a problem in my church even if I am openly gay and dress quite feminine. We have a new pastor since a year and he has tried to talk me into becoming straight since day one. Clearly, he is quite homophobic…. I have been able to laugh about if until now, but he is now trying to put pressure on my by the other pastors.

“They have never had a problem with me before. Suddenly they want me to dress differently and “become straight”.

“I am feeling harassed by my pastor and he even talked about me in church yesterday. It was clearly about me and I could feel the hostility.

“What can I do? Can I even try to do something legal against my pastor or is he protected by the law since he is God’s voice?”

My answer  to the above question was as follows:

“Yours is not like the case in which the baker refused to do a wedding cake for homosexuals. That was a business. Your dispute is with a church. Businesses are not covered by the First Amendment whereas churches are. The First Amendment says:

4“‘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.’

“One can read the history of the First Amendment at: https://opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com/contents/onl….

“An abbreviated version of that history is at: https://opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/a….

For the history incorporated with an examination of both Christian and Secular Historical revisionism of the history of the First Amendment see https://opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com/god-betrayed/books/the-trail-of-blood-of-the-martyrs-of-jesus/ 

“I cannot fully answer your question in this forum, but I will give you an answer in a nutshell with additional resources for more detailed study.

“If your church is totally under the First Amendment (has not become a legal entity by incorporating, getting Internal Revenue Code Section 501c3 or Section 508 status, etc.), you have no legal recourse whatsoever against your church.

9“On the other hand, should your church be a legal entity, she has voluntarily taken herself, for many purposes, out from under First Amendment protections. For example, your church may be held in violation of the rule which says that the 501c3 religious organization shall not violate fundamental public policy. This rule was set in place by the IRS and upheld by the United States Supreme Court as to a religious organization – a religious school named Bob Jones University. The issue involving a church has not been dealt with. What the court would do in the church religious organization setting is not certain. However, I believe that the court should enforce the “against public policy” exception as to any religious organization. After all, if a church has voluntarily agreed to 501c3 status, she has agreed, as do religious schools, charitable trusts, Planned Parenthood, the Church of Wicca, and other organizations, to abide by the rules that go along with the status. The religious organization is getting benefits, so she should be willing to abide by the give and take contract she eagerly sought. There are many arguments one can make to support upholding the rules for all 501c3 organizations, not just select organizations.

Click the above to go to online version of God Betrayed.
Click the above to go to online version of God Betrayed.

“I don’t have the room to cover all the arguments, the law, etc. in this short space. This is all covered in much detail on the website, opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com. A link to the PDF of the comprehensive book on these matters is at https://opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com/contents/boo…. One can go to the index and look up Bob Jones University, and many other specific issues, or the Table of Contents to get general subjects such as incorporation, 501c3, etc. The online version has updates and is at: https://opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com/contents/boo…. The online version does not have an index.

“To look at church legal entity status one can go online to https://opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com/contents/boo….

“The courts have not yet addressed the question of violation of fundamental public policy in the church (religious organization) context. As I said above, the courts have no jurisdiction over the purely spiritual church (the non-legal entity) church; such a church in America may still operate according to the principles in the Bible without civil government jurisdiction and persecution.

“You will need someone to help you who is well-versed in the law should you desire to proceed legally. The res
End – out of characters”

To go the the webpage of the above question with answers from other attorneys, click here.

Chapter 1: Legal Entity Status and the Corporation Sole

3

Contents of this booklet (left click link to go to entry):

Introduction

Chapter 1: Legal Entity Status and the Corporation Sole (Below)
Chapter 2: Analysis of “Benefits of the Corporation Sole Compared to a Traditional 501c3 Church”
Chapter 3: Analysis of “Church Establishment Affidavit”

Conclusion

Appendix A: What is a Corporation Sole?
Appendix B: Corporation Sole and Internal Revenue Code §§ 501(c)(3) and 508

Related articles:

Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 2, 2015

Obviously, to one who studies these matters and as will be shown in the following chapters, the conclusion, and Appendix A and Appendix B, the Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole website does not understand the implications of the fact that the corporation sole is a legal entity and the fact that by organizing as a legal entity, a church becomes subject to all the legal requirements and law regarding legal entities.

Before one can understand the implications of corporation sole status (legal entity status), he must first understand the meaning of “legal entity.” BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 893-894 (6th ed. 1990) defines “legal entity” as: “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 definition is not totally accurate in that every citizen of America in his right mind is also a legal entity. A citizen may sue, be sued, be charged with a crime, make decisions himself, and function legally (enter into contracts, obtain insurance, get a bank account, etc.). A legal entity  such as a non-profit corporation (includes corporation sole) is obviously subject to the laws of the civil government which create the legal entity.

Thus, a church who is a legal entity may enter into contracts, open a bank account, obtain insurance in her name, go into debt, and act legally in other ways. Since a church is not a natural person, she must utilize specific law in order to become a legal entity and obtain “sufficient existence in legal contemplation that it can function legally, be sued or sue and make decisions.” She may do this by the use of state non-incorporation (includes corporation sole), charitable trust, business trust, unincorporated association, etc. law. Of course, the pastor of a corporation sole church acts legally on behalf of the church he represents.

The concise book, Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities? by Jerald Finney, explains church legal entity versus spiritual entity status and the practical implications thereof. The booklet is free in both online and PDF form, or may be ordered from amazon.com.

The Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole website and corporation sole law make clear that a church who uses corporation sole law as a means of organization is a legal entity who is not under God only. The website clearly states the corporation sole is a legal entity and that the corporation sole church is a legal entity.

The statute that establishes the corporation sole church as a legal entity: ORS  § 65.067(1), 2013.
The statute that establishes the corporation sole church as a legal entity: ORS § 65.067(1), 2013.

The law they rely on and quote (they quote from 2011 law rather than the amended 2013 law) makes clear that a corporation sole is a type of legal entity known as a non-profit corporation. The latest version of that law—Oregon Revised Statutes, Oregon Non-profit Corporation Law, Volume 2 Business Organizations, Commercial Code § 65.067(1), 2013reads, in relevant part:

“(1) An individual may, in conformity with the constitution, canons, rules, regulations and disciplines of a church or religious denomination, form a corporation under this section to be a corporation sole. The corporation sole is a form of religious corporation and differs from other religious corporations organized under this chapter only in that the corporation sole does not have a board of directors, does not need to have officers and is managed by a single director who is the individual who constitutes the corporation and is the corporation sole’s incorporator or the successor of the incorporator….

“(3) All of the provisions of ORS 65.044 to 65.067 apply to a corporation sole. If the corporation sole has no officers, the director may perform any act that an officer may perform with the same effect and in the same manner as though one or more officers of the corporation sole performed the act.

“(4) If a corporation sole or the individual that constitutes the corporation sole is the only member of a religious corporation, the religious corporation is not required to hold an annual membership meeting under ORS 65.201 if the religious corporation is: (a) Incorporated under the provisions of this chapter; and (b) Of the same church or religious denomination as the corporation sole.

“Approved by the Governor May 16, 2013 Filed in the office of Secretary of State May 17, 2013 Effective date January 1, 2014.”

Note. The Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole website quotes from the 2011 version of the law.

Thus, according to Oregon Corporation Sole law, the corporation sole is controlled by the state law which creates it (not by God’s law) except “that the corporation sole does not have a board of directors, does not need to have officers, and is managed by a single director who is the individual who constitutes the corporation and is the corporation sole’s incorporator or the successor of the incorporator.” So what is a Corporation Sole subject to? The rest of the non-profit corporation law, which can be accessed by clicking Oregon Revised Statutes, Oregon Non-profit Corporation Law, Volume 2 Business Organizations, Commercial Code § 65.067(1), 2013, (left click to go directly to the law) explains what law the Corporation Sole, a non-profit corporation and legal entity, is subject to. This author was going to copy and paste the above law below, but it is too voluminous. The concerned student will find that browsing the above linked to law is very enlightening in his examination of what the Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole website teaches.

Corporation: A Human Being with No Soul

15

Jerald Finney
Copyright © July 29, 2014

Some define corporation to mean “a human being with no soul;” of course this statement makes an important point even though it is not literally true. A corporation is not a human being, but it is an “artificial person” (a legal fiction) who acts legally, by, for example, entering into contracts, buying and selling property, suing and being sued. And, as an “artificial person” with no soul, the corporation, whether profit or not for profit, will act accordingly. Human beings with souls in a corporation act within an unnatural, soulless, Godless, state-created fiction; because of the contracts created by their act of incorporation, all disputes can be taken to secular courts where only man’s law and rules will be tolerated; do not try to argue God’s law in that environment. The “church” non-profit corporation will be polluted to some degree, greater or lesser, by the immoral, soulless part of the two-headed monster.

“Christian” churches, wiccan churches, planned parenthood, etc. are all under the same non-profit corporation status.

Many secularists understand the nature of incorporation. The statements in a recent article on corporations “Corporations had been viewed as artificial persons for millennia” (click the blue title to go to the article) gives some of the characteristics of incorporation. I urge the interested reader to read that article. The article concerns business corporations; but, although some of what the article says cannot be applied to church incorporation, much of what the article says is applicable to non-profit church corporations. I have explained the intricacies of church incorporation in the Section VI of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (PDF, Online Version, Ordering Information) and in Separation of Church and State (PDF, Online Version, Ordering Information). Those resources thoroughly analyze church incorporation for the believer who has an open mind, some degree of intellect, and some Bible knowledge and wisdom about the principles of church, state, and separation of church and state—those requirements eliminate most believers and pastors, especially fundamental Baptist pastors.

5Some of the assertions in the article are applicable to non-profit corporations but some are not. The following are applicable to church incorporation (Quotes from the article are in parentheses. The bold material in brackets [] below are my notes, comments, and additions.):

  • Corporations had been viewed as artificial persons for millennia, the debate over whether they should be afforded the same rights as humans had been raging long before the United States created, or the 14th Amendment was adopted. The degree of permissible government interference in corporate affairs was controversial from the earliest days of the nation.”
  • LegalEntityStatus“Corporations as legal entities have always been able to perform commercial activities, similar to a person acting as a sole proprietor, such as entering into a contract or owning property. Therefore corporations have always had a ‘legal personality’ for the purposes of conducting business while shielding individual shareholders from personal liability (i.e., protecting personal assets which were not invested in the corporation).”

16[I cover “limited liability” for church corporation members in the article “Spurious rationale for church incorporation: limited liability/Incorporation increases liability of church members.”].

  • 6Corporate personhood is the legal concept that a corporation may be recognized as an individual in the eyes of the law. This doctrine forms the basis for legal recognition that corporations, as groups of people, may hold and exercise certain rights under the common law and the U.S. Constitution. The doctrine does not grant to corporations all of the rights of citizens.”
  • “As a matter of interpretation of the word ‘person’ in the Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. courts have extended certain constitutional protections to corporations. Opponents of corporate personhood seek to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit these rights to those provided by state law and state constitutions.”
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
First Amendment to the United States Constitution

[I explain how a church, by incorporating, gives up her First Amendment status and places herself to a large degree under the Fourteenth Amendment in the God Betrayed and Separation of Church and State. Non-incorporated churches (and churches which do not become legal entities in some other manner other than incorporation) are protected by the religion clause of the First Amendment, whereas, of course, the First Amendment religion clause gives no protection to a business. The religion clause is a statement of biblical principles (separation of church and state (the establishment clause) and soul liberty or freedom of conscious (the free exercise clause).]

  • PlannedParenthood_2“The basis for allowing corporations to assert protection under the U.S. Constitution is that they are organizations of people, and the people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights when they act collectively.[5] In this view, treating corporations as “persons” is a convenient legal fiction which allows corporations to sue and to be sued, provides a single entity for easier taxation…, simplifies complex transactions which would otherwise involve, in the case of large corporations, thousands of people, and protects the individual rights of the shareholders as well as the right of association.”

14thAm.[Churches which do not become legal entities, unlike businesses, are protected by the First Amendment religion clause. I explain why First Amendment protection for churches is biblical and much preferable to Fourteenth Amendment protection in God Betrayed and Separation of Church and State. In fact, seeking Fourteenth Amendment protection places a church under Satanic rules and regulations; the creator of the corporation is the state and state incorporation law gives the manner of organization, the officers, etc. that the law of incorporation requires. Therefore, incorporation completely changes the nature of a church. In addition to the books linked to above, some more concise articles on this matter are “Christians Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil,” “Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution” and “Laws Protecting New Testament Church in the United States: Read Them for Yourselves.”]

  • “Generally, corporations are not able to claim constitutional protections which would not otherwise be available to persons acting as a group. For example, the Supreme Court has not recognized a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for a corporation, since the right can be exercised only on an individual basis.”

[A New Testament (First Amendment)  church can claim First Amendment religion clause protection whereas a corporation cannot. Since a New Testament church, unlike a corporation, is a not a legal entity, she cannot sue, be sued, or act legally. Churches which become incorporated begin to act like corporate businesses in may ways.]

  • 9Corporations are NOT people.While it is true that what guides them is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the two basic rules: (a) Maximize profit (b) Do whatever is necessary to continue the business.”(Rule a should be modified when it conflicts with rule b).”

[In a church corporation, the officers of the corporation operate an entity whose organization, goals, structure, morality, piety, and officers are mandated by state law in direct contradiction to the organization, goals, structure, morality, piety, and officers given by God’s Holy Bible in the New Testament.]

  • 7“It is a slippery road to give personal rights to corporations. The corporation is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms. What’s worse, this “sociopathic” entity is given the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities. A corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence–which it uses freely to reach its goals.”

8[These realities are clearly seen in the Catholic “church” (not incorporated), and also in incorporated Fundamental Baptist Churches. A prime example of the latter is First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. See the article “Jack Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, Heresy and Apostasy.” One can also do a google search to see the reactions of the church lawyer (David Gibbs) and the church members of First Baptist of Hammond for more confirmation. This scenario has played out on a smaller scale in many other Fundamental Baptist Churches, including the offspring, followers, and worshipers of First Baptist of Hammond and her pastors.]

13Other parts of the article (the parts dealing with rights of corporations to make political expenditures under the First Amendment free speech clause, the role corporate money plays and should play in democratic politics, the dangers of giving too much power to corporations to allow corporations to participate directly on political campaigns as a threat to democracy) apply to some degree to church corporations. All one has to do is look at the operations of, for example, the average “fundamental church and her pastor, the average seminary or Bible college and what they teach, and the words and activities of the lawyers involved with those institutions to see the application of those matters. That is all the author will say about that in this brief article.

Fundamental Baptist tradition perceives the truth to be that churches are to incorporate and get 28 U.S.C. Section 501(c)(3) status. At the same time, that tradition preaches that the Bible is to be the sole source of truth. The reality is that the biblical doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state disprove the first mentioned Baptist tradition. But after all, it is the perception of the truth, not the truth, that matters.

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.