Virginia adopted a new constitution in 1776. The Convention of 1776 was, by its act, made the “House of Delegates” of the first General Assembly under the new constitution. Twenty-nine new members in this meeting were not in the 1775 Convention. “[W]hen there was anything near a division among the other inhabitants in a county, the Baptists, together with their influence, gave a caste to the scale, by which means many a worthy and useful member was lodged in the House of Assembly and answered a valuable purpose there.” Among those favorable to Baptist causes was James Madison. On May 12, the Congress met in Philadelphia “and instructed the colonies to organize independent governments of their own. The war was on.” On May 15, the Convention resolved to declare the “colonies free and independent states” and that a committee be appointed to prepare Declaration of Rights and a plan of government which would “maintain peace and order” and “secure substantial and equal liberty to the people.”
Other than Rhode Island, Virginia was the first colony to recognize religious liberty “in her organic law, and this she did in Article XVI. of her Bill of Rights, which was adopted on the 12th day of June 1776.” In 1776, petitions from all over Virginia seeking religious freedom and freedom of conscience beset the Virginia state convention. Patrick Henry proposed the provision to section sixteen of the Virginia Bill of Rights, which granted religious tolerance. On June 12, the House adopted a Declaration of Rights. The 16th Article provided for religious tolerance. However, [o]n motion on the floor by James Madison, the article was amended to provide for religious liberty. See  for short explanation of where Madison learned the distinction between religious toleration and religious liberty. In committee, Madison opposed toleration because toleration “belonged to a system where there was an established church, and where it was a thing granted, not of right, but of grace. He feared the power, in the hands of a dominant religion, to construe what ‘may disturb the peace, the happiness, or the safety of society,’ and he ventured to propose a substitute, which was finally adopted.” He probably moved to change the amendment before the whole house in order to demonstrate his position to the Baptists who were viewing the proceedings. The amendment as passed by the convention read:
“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our CREATOR, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”
“The adoption of the Bill of Rights marked the beginning of the end of the establishment.”
 Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), p. 58.
 William H. Marnell, The First Amendment: Religious Freedom in America from Colonial Days to the School Prayer Controversy (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), pp. 94-95; James, pp. 62-65.
 Where did Madison learn the distinction between religious freedom and religious toleration? “It had not then begun to be recognized in treatises on religion and morals. He did not learn it from Jeremy Taylor or John Locke, but from his Baptist neighbors, whose wrongs he had witnessed, and who persistently taught that the civil magistrate had nothing to do with matters of religion.” (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), p. 63 quoting Dr. John Long.)
Madison studied for the ministry at Princeton University, then the College of New Jersey, under John Witherspoon. When he returned to Virginia, he continued his theological interests and developed a strong concern for freedom of worship.
“At the time of Madison’s return from Princeton, several ‘well-meaning men,’ as he described them, were put in prison for their religious views. Baptists were being fined or imprisoned for holding unauthorized meetings. Dissenters were taxed for the support of the State Church. Preachers had to be licensed. Madison saw at first hand the repetition of the main evils of the Old Country. But he also saw a deep dissatisfaction among the people—the kind of dissatisfaction that would grow and that would serve as a mighty battering ram for religious freedom.” (Norman Cousins, In God We Trust (Kingsport, Tennessee: Kingsport Press, Inc., 1958), p. 296.)
 See Lenni Brenner, editor, Jefferson and Madison on Separation of Church and State (Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books, Inc, 2004), pp. 21-22 for George Mason’s Article, Madison’s Amendment to Mason’s Article, The Proposal of Committee of Virginia’s Revolutionary Convention, Madison’s Amendment to the Committee’s Article, and the Article as Passed); James, pp. 62-65.
 James, pp. 62-64; Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 96.
Separation of church and state,” “established church” and “religious freedom or soul liberty,” are inherent in the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This lesson will define those phrases. The remaining studies and cited authorities, especially the studies on the history of the First Amendment will make perfectly clear that the definitions given here are accurate.
1. Definition of Separation of Church and State
The biblical principle of “separation of church and state” is that God desires both a church and the state to choose to be under God, but desires neither to be over or to work hand in hand with the other. A church has spiritual responsibilities. The state has earthly responsibilities. The Bible contains different principles for a church and the state. God desires the two to be totally separate entities, both ordained by God who desires both to submit to Him in love and to be guided by His principles as stated in His Word. A church under God remains an eternal spiritual entity only so long as she does not inadvertently or intentionally change her status to an earthly temporal entity by placing herself under the law of man, under civil government. By placing herself under the law of man, she combines church and state and makes herself, at least partially but perhaps wholly, a temporal, legal, earthly entity.
The main example in America is the incorporated 501(c)(3) church. The rules of civil government for the corporate 501(c)(3) church are secular and such a church agrees, when she applies for and executes the status, to the rules which come with state non-profit corporation law and the rules that come with 501(c)(3). She also agrees that any disputes over violation of the rules will be decided by the authority—the state of incorporation or, for 501(c)(3) purposes, the federal government. God and the Bible will have no part of disputes as to many matters. The authority is civil government.
In other words, the corporate 501(c)(3) church has not only put herself under man’s law, not God’s law, for many matters; she has also taken herself from under the First Amendment—a statement of the Bible principle of separation of church and state (not separation of God and State—and placed herself under the Fourteenth Amendment for many purposes.
2. Definition of “Established Church”
An established church is a church who is an integral part of the state and receives state support. She does this trough becoming a legal entity. The established church and state reach an agreement or enter into a contract whereby either the state aids the church in attaining earthly and/or spiritual goals or vice-versa and, to one degree or another, the state runs the church or the established church runs the state. The church and state work hand in hand to enforce earthly and spiritual laws and principles. In modern America state-churches are influenced, perverted, and/or perhaps dominated by state enforced satanic principles. For more on this, see What is an established church?
Historically, the established church has either been over the state, or the state has been over the established church. When the state has been over the church, the state directs the affairs of the church to a greater or lesser degree and vice-versa. In either case, the spiritual affairs of the church are mixed with the earthly responsibilities of the state. In the past, in either a church-state or state-church, leaders of both church and state operated under a false theology based upon false biblical principles. The results were (1) corruption of the church, corruption of the state, corruption of the clergy and political leaders and the members of society and the church, and (2) torture, imprisonment, and/or the killing of those who refused to bow down to the theology of the church-state or state-church. We see the former results in the church-state activities in America today. The latter results are coming.
3. Definition of Religious Freedom or Soul Liberty
“By religious freedom, or soul liberty, is meant the natural and inalienable right of every soul to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and to be unmolested in the exercise of that right, so long, at least, as he does not infringe upon the rights of others; that religion is, and must be a voluntary service; that only such service is acceptable to God; and, hence that no earthly power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, has any right to compel conformity to any creed or to any species of worship, or to tax a man for its support.
Religious freedom exists when every citizen has, by law, the choice, without persecution, of choosing God, false gods or a false god, or no god at all. Religious freedom, as shown in God’s Word, is what He desires in a Gentile nation. Even though He desires Gentile nations to provide for religious liberty, He also wants them to submit themselves to Him and His principles, and recognize that Jesus Christ is the Supreme Sovereign. Thus a nation modeled after biblical principles will provide for religious liberty while also operating under God and His principles.
“This principle gives to ‘Caesar’ ‘the things that are Caesar’s,’ but it denies to Caesar ‘the things that are God’s.’ It does not make it a matter of indifference what a man believes or how he acts, but it places all on the same footing before God, the only lord of the conscience, and makes us responsible to him alone for our faith and practice. [By 1900 this doctrine was] very generally accepted, not only in Virginia, but also throughout the United States. It [had] been incorporated into our National and State Constitutions, and it [was ] the basis for our civil liberties” (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), p. 9.).
Definitions of “Separation of Church and State,” “Established Church,” and “Religious Freedom or Soul Liberty”
Definitions of “separation of church and state,” “established church” and “religious freedom or soul liberty,” are necessary in order to understand the principle of separation of church and state. The biblical principle of “separation of church and state” is that God desires both a church and the state to choose to be under God, but desires neither to be over or to work hand in hand with the other. A church has spiritual responsibilities. The state has earthly responsibilities. The Bible contains different principles for a church and the state. God desires the two to be totally separate entities, both ordained by God who desires both to submit to Him in love and to be guided by His principles as stated in His Word.
An established church is a church who is an integral part of the state and receives state support. The established church and state reach an agreement or enter into a contract whereby either the state aids the church in attaining earthly and/or spiritual goals or vice-versa and, to one degree or another, the state runs the church or the established church runs the state. The church and state work hand in hand to enforce earthly and spiritual laws and principles. In modern America state-churches are influenced, perverted, and/or perhaps dominated by state enforced satanic principles.
Historically, the established church has either been over the state, or the state has been over the established church. When the state has been over the church, the state directs the affairs of the church to a greater or lesser degree and vice-versa. In either case, the spiritual affairs of the church are mixed with the earthly responsibilities of the state. In the past, in either a church-state or state-church, leaders of both church and state operated under a false theology based upon false biblical principles. The results were (1) corruption of the church, corruption of the state, corruption of the clergy and political leaders and the members of society and the church, and (2) torture, imprisonment, and/or the killing of those who refused to bow down to the theology of the church-state or state-church. We see the former results in the church-state activities in America today. The latter results are coming.
Religious freedom exists when every citizen has, by law, the choice, without persecution, of choosing God, false gods or a false god, or no god at all. Religious freedom, as shown in God’s Word, is what He desires in a Gentile nation. Even though He desires Gentile nations to provide for religious liberty, He also wants them to submit themselves to Him and His principles, and recognize that Jesus Christ is the Supreme Sovereign. Thus a nation modeled after biblical principles will provide for religious liberty while also operating under God and His principles.
In today’s incorporated 501(c)(3) church in America, the rules of civil government for the church are secular and the civil government enforces certain public policies even when those policies go against biblical principles. Christians in America suffer a very mild degree of persection.
“By religious freedom, or soul liberty, is meant the natural and inalienable right of every soul to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and to be unmolested in the exercise of that right, so long, at least, as he does not infringe upon the rights of others; that religion is, and must be a voluntaryservice; that only such service is acceptable to God; and, hence that no earthly power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, has any right to compel conformity to any creed or to any species of worship, or to tax a man for its support.
“This principle gives to ‘Caesar’ ‘the things that are Caesar’s,’ but it denies to Caesar ‘the things that are God’s.’ It does not make it a matter of indifference what a man believes or how he acts, but it places all on the same footing before God, the only lord of the conscience, and makes us responsible to him alone for our faith and practice. [By 1900 this doctrine was] very generally accepted, not only in Virginia, but also throughout the United States. It [had] been incorporated into our National and State Constitutions, and it [was] the basis for our civil liberties” (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), p. 9.).
Truth is as essential to history as the soul is to the body.—Frederick.
Quoted on 92 of The Writings of John Leland
“Truth needs no apology, and error deserves none. Prefatory lies have often atoned for ignorance and ill-will in the Eastern and European worlds; but let the sons of America be free. It is more essential to learn how to believe, than to learn what to believe” (92)
Note. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from the book The Writings of John Leland, and only the page numbers are noted. Several years ago, I tried to find a copy of the writings of John Leland. I discovered a two volume set of the writings of John Leland online, but the price was $200.00. Two days later, I decided to “bite the bullet” and pay the $200.00. It was too late. The books were no longer available, and I could not find any other sources. Recently, Pastor Jason Cooley informed me that John Leland’s writings are now available for $20.00 from Local Church Bible Publishers, www.LocalChurchBiblePublishers.com. I bought the book from that source.
Book Review: The Writings of John Leland
John Leland was both a Baptist hero and an American hero. His contributions to religious liberty in America should be known by every American, and especially to every American Baptist. He was a constant and effective promoter the Baptist distinctive of separation of church and state, soul liberty, or religious liberty both before and after the ratification of the United States Constitution. His exploits and thoughts on liberty should stand next to those of George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson.
Before the adoption of the Constitution, he was a leader for religious liberty in Virginia: “The Baptists fought to have the act incorporating the Episcopal church repealed. Reuben Ford and John Leland attended the first 1787 assembly meeting as agents in behalf of the Baptist General Committee (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; first published in Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), pp. 142-146). On August 10, 1787, the act incorporating the Episcopal church was repealed, and until 2001—when Jerry Falwell and trustees of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, who were joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, challenged the Virginia Constitutional provision forbidding the incorporation of churches in federal district court—no church in Virginia could be incorporated (See Falwell v. Miller, 203 F. Supp. 2d 624 (W.D. Va. 2002).” God Betrayed, p. 282.
“It is sad that Christian revisionists, in their successful effort to deceive the entire Christian community and advance their agenda by combining church and state, so that the resulting union of church and state can bring in the kingdom of heaven, have belittled, misrepresented, and/or totally ignored great men such as Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, Isaac Backus, Shubal Stearns, John Leland and others. Their efforts have done great and irreparable damage to the cause of Christ.” God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Austin, Texas: Kerygma Publishing Company, 2008), p. 208; See EN for more information on books by Jerald Finney; God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application(Link to preview of God Betrayed). Tragically, even most Baptists have been deceived by the revisionists, and believe and teach the revisionist lies.
“John Leland, the most popular preacher in Virginia, was chosen by the Baptists as candidate of Orange County to the state ratification convention opposed to ratification of the United States Constitution, and his opponent was to be James Madison. Mr. Leland likely would have been elected had he not later withdrawn. Mr. Madison, when he returned from Philadelphia, stopped by Mr. Leland’s house and spent half a day communicating to him about ‘the great matters which were then agitating the people of the state and the Confederacy’ and relieving Baptist apprehensions as to the question of religious liberty. As a result of this meeting, Mr. Leland withdrew in favor of Mr. Madison and the Baptists of Orange County were won over to the side of Madison” (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; first published in Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), pp. 150-158; William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought:A Biblical Interpretation of American History. (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 1999) pp. 166-167.” God Betrayed, p. 285.
In compiling The Writings of John Leland, “Great care has been taken to ascertain truth, and few assertions have been made that are not sustained by documentary evidence of undoubted authenticity.” The book combines what the Elder Leland believed, preached and lived with evidences of a pious character, preaching style, life history and accomplishments, personal demeanor, and his effect on those whom he converted and those to whom he preached” (65).
Reading John Leland’s writings reveals the mind of a brilliant believer. His political insights were, for like of a better word, awesome. His historical and biblical knowledge were of the highest order, but, more importantly, his analyses were brilliant, reflecting the mind of God. Through a short biography, compilation of letters, speeches to political bodies, essays, sermons, etc., The Writings of John Leland reveals, of special interest to this author, the political and spiritual life and beliefs of John Leland. Mr. Leland’s spiritual activities resulted in the salvation of many souls; and, as already noted, he was very instrumental in the adoption of the First Amendment the United States Constitution. He remained active until his death. He wrote, “I [John Leland] close, by observing that here is an arm seventy years old, which, as long as it can rise to heaven in prayer, or wield a pen on earth, shall never be inactive, when the religious rights of men are in jeopardy. Was there a vital fibre in my heart, that did not plead for rational religious liberty, I would chase the felon from his den, and roast him in the flames” (507).
The remainder of this review will consist of two parts: (1) A summary of “Events in the Life of John Leland,”and (2) “A sampling of quotes and matters which Leland addresses in the essays, sermons, addresses, poems, etc. which are included in the book”.
Events in the Life of John Leland (9-40)
Born in Grafton, Massachusetts on May 14, 1754. As a boy, he lost all desire for youthful diversions and, due to conviction in his mind, and would talk on no subject but religion. “Reading the Bible and meditating on the shortness of time, and the importance of being prepared for death and judgment, occupied the chiefest of [his] time.” He began to earnestly seek the Lord (11), and reached conclusions about salvation. While less than twenty years old, he, although naturally bashful publically disputed on the matter of salvation freely by grace with a very respectable preacher (13), then prayed and gave the people present a word of exhortation. The next day, reproaching himself for his forwardness and presumption, he told some that they need not mind anything that he had said, since he was a poor unconverted sinner. He and another young man about his age began to set up evening meetings, to sing, pray, and speak according to their proportion of faith as the Spirit gave them utterance (15). He struggled with his moral evil in himself and “want of will,” and worried about preaching. He was baptized in June, 1774 (16). He preaches from Malachi 9: “If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name saith the Lord of Hosts, I will even send a curse upon you ——.” He continued to preach and doors opened. He finally surrendered to the ministry, without any condition, evasion, or mental reservation (18). [Lady blamed him for being a closed communicant; he asked why he should be blamed for not communing with those who have no fellowship with him (18-19). Joined Bellingham church which gave him a license to do that which he had been doing for a year (19). Oct. 1775 went to Virginia for 8 mo. Married Sally Devine on 9/30/1776. Moved to Culpepper, Virginia. Ordained by the choice of the church, travelled and preached. Moved to Orange county. Travailed in the desire for salvation of sinners, prays much, baptizes (130), preaches from Orange to York. (20-21). This continues through p. 40.
Pp 41- “Further sketches of the Life of John Leland.” Additional incidents from the editor which continue the history to the time of Leland’s death (1835 to the death of John Leland), including more on the life and character of Mrs. Leland (liberality, courage (e.g., saved her husband from a murderer’s sword (42), life of unceasing toil, always busy, always quiet (43), more on her life history on (43), , her faith firm in Christ, etc. Sketch of John Leland’s last sermon preached 1/8/1841 (46-47). “Thus died John Leland—a man eminent above many for piety and usefulness, whose name is connected with all that is pure in patriotism, lovely in the social and domestic virtues, philanthropic in feeling and action, arduous, disinterested, and self-denying in the labors of the ministerial calling; one whose place in society, in the church, and in the ranks of the ministry, will not soon be filled—in the hearts of those who knew him, never (49).
He died as a witness for the truth, testifying, with his last breath, the value of religion, and that only, which has its seat in the heart. His life had been unostentatious; his aspirations after worldly honors, ever low and feeble; his humility and sense of dependence on God, deep-felt and abiding—and thus he died….” His tombstone read: “Here lies the body of the Rev. John Leland, who labored 67 years to promote piety and vindicate the civil and religious rights of all men. He died January, 14, 1841, aged 86 years and 8 months (50).” His religious creed (50-1).
“Through a long life, Elder Leland sustained, with uniform consistency, the two-fold character of the Patriot and the Christian. For His religious creed he acknowledged no director but the Bible. He loved the pure, unadulterated word of truth and as a minister of that word, zealous and faithful, he preached it, as far as he was able, unmixed with the doctrines and commandments of men, ‘not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.’ He was clear in exposition, happy in illustration, often powerful and eloquent in appeals to the conscience and heart. He insisted, in absolute and unqualified terms, on the great fundamental truths of the gospel, the necessity of regeneration, faith and repentance; but, on points not essential to salvation, though his opinions were no less firmly established, and he never shrunk from advocating them on proper occasions, yet he did not censure or denounce those who differed from him, nor exclude from fellowship, ass Christians, any who gave evidence of a gracious change, whatever might be their peculiar doctrinal views. He never engaged in controversy; and when any of his published opinions were disputed, or commented upon, as was sometimes the case, with severity, he preferred to ‘let the matter rest a little, and then give another thrust,’ as he expressed it, to the wwast of time, repetitions, and tediousness of reviews and replies.” (51-52).
“His political creed was based upon those ‘sufficient truths’ of equality, and of inherent and inalienable rights recognized by the master spirits of the revolution as the principles for the support of which they pledged ‘their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.’ As a politician, he was above the influence of any but sincere and patriotic motives. He was a statesman, rather than a politician. He studied the fundamental principles of government, and drew his conclusions directly from them, without any intervening medium of self or party interest…. His sentiments, on particular measures, it is unnecessary to comment upon, as they are clearly expressed in his writings. His feelings on the subject of slavery may be gathered from the fact that, during his fourteen years’ residence in Virginia he never owned a slave, as well as from his remarks in the Virginia Chronicle, and from the resolution offered by him, when a member of the Baptist General Committee, and passed by them, in 1789, in the following words: …” (51-52).
“The great object, (next in importance to his mission as a preacher of Christ,) for which he seems to have been raised up by a special Providence, was to promote the establishment of religious liberty in the United States. His efforts, perhaps, contributed as much as those of any other man, to the overthrow of ecclesiastical tyranny in Virginia, the state of his adoption, and exerted a beneficial influence, though less successful, towards the promotion of the same end in that of his nativity. In the former, in the years 1786-7-8, we find his name in the doings of the Baptist General Committee, with which he stood connected, as messenger to the General Assembly, appointed to draft and present memorials respecting the Incorporating act, the application of the glebe lands to public use, etc. Though the cause of religious freedom was the common cause of all dissenters, yet the Baptists, as a sect, took the lead in those active, energetic, and persevering measures, which at length prevailed in its establishment. Many individuals of other denominations took an active part, and aided materially in bringing about the glorious result; nay, that even many of the more conscientious and patriotic among the members of the established church, made praiseworthy exertions in its favor, is a fact too honorable to themselves, and to the state that produced them, to be passed unnoticed. Enrolled among the ardent champions of religious liberty, are the names of Virginia’s most illustrious sons—of Washington, Henry, Jefferson, Madison. To particularize, in regard to the efforts made, and the good accomplished by each, is unnecessary in this place; the following Address an Reply, which are inserted entire, will serve to exhibit the enlarged views and the unselfish spirit of the patriots of that day, as well as the harmony, one might almost say identity, of sentiment that prevailed among them.” … (Address to President Washington: see pp. 52-54.). George Washington’s reply on pp. 54-55, says, in part: “If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it; and if I could now conceive that the general government might even be so administered, as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself, to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution. For you, doubtless, remember, I have often expressed my sentiments, that any man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience… (52).”
Leland moved to New England in 1791. Immediately “commenced anew the warfare against religious intolerance, and the defence of the cause that had so signally triumphed in Virginia. During his stay in New London, he published his ‘Rights of Conscience Inalienable,’ and afterwards, from time to time, other works of the same character; some of which will be found in [this volume], and others it has been impossible to obtain. “Our limits do not allow us to enter upon the history and progress of religious liberty in Massachusetts. This may be found elsewhere…. At length, in the beginning of 1811, a decision by Judge Parsons, that no society, not incorporated by law, could claim even the pitiful privilege of drawing back money, awakened the fears of the dissenters, and a circular Address, accompanied by a petition to the legislature, praying for a revision of the laws respecting public worship, was circulated through the state. At the solicitation of the people of Cheshire, Mr. Leland accepted a seat in the legislature, for the special purpose of aiding the measures petitioned for. His speech, delivered during the debate on the subject, may be found in another part of the work (55).”
“A law was finally passed that gave some relief, but not complete satisfaction. The ‘stump’ of the tree of ecclesiastical oppression, so carefully preserved ‘with a band of iron and brass,’ continued, therefore to furnish a subject for his animadversion, in various essays, addresses, etc. and he improved such opportunities as were offered him, as a matter of duty, and in fulfillment of the public pledge he had given, that ‘as long as he could speak with his tongue, wield a pen, or heave a cry to heaven, whenever the rights of men, the liberty of conscience, or the good of his country were invaded by fraud or force, his feeble efforts should not lie dormant.’”
A sampling of quotes and matters which Leland addresses in the book
59- His views on church discipline, communion, etc.
65 – Excerpt from Semple’s Virginia Baptists on John Leland.
68- 69 Leland on God’s Sovereignty vs. free will.
69 – 70 Criticisms of John Leland.
70 “There is evidently a wide difference between searching the Scriptures to find a system of truth, and searching them for evidence to support one already adopted….”
78 (In Preface to “The Bible Baptist): “Truth needs no apology, and error deserves none. Prefatory lies have often atoned for ignorance and ill-will in the Eastern and European worlds; but let the sons of America be free. It is more essential to learn how to believe, than to learn what to believe.
“The doctrine and spirit of the following remarks, are left for the reader to judge of for himself. Truth is in the least danger of being lost, when free examination is allowed.”
78 “Christian writers generally agree to reproach the Jews, for treating the Rabbies with as much respect as they did the prophets; giving as great credit to their traditions as they did to the sacred volume. But many Christian writers are guilty of the same absurdity. It is no more significant for Jews to quote the Talmud or the Targum, to prove a Mosaic rite, than it is for Christians to depend on Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen, and the other fathers of the church, for a gospel ordinance.”
73-77 “The History of Jack Nips”: (The boy Leland examiners the teaching of the church; also state constitutions) This examines doctrines of the Presbyterian church: preaching in tones, their orthography, infant baptism of non-believers (who gave their child to God) 73-, baptism of infants who are out of the church and of infants of those who are enemies of the church (75). He does his Bible study of baptism 76. His dad intended him for a minister. His question: “But does God. Those who are sent by men to preach, must look to men for their pay; but those that are sent by God, must depend on him.” He studies all the state constitutions at age 22. He found that “there were not two of them that agreed. What said I, do great men differ? Boys, women, and little souls do; but can learned wise patriots disagree so much in judgment? If so, they cannot all be right, but they may all be wrong, and therefore, Jack Nipps for himself. What encouraged me to search and judge for myself, was this: when I was a small boy, I fancied that I stood in the middle of the world, and that the earth extended no further than my eye-sight explored: but people told me that I was wrong in my judgment; but after a few years study, I found I was half right. That the earth exceeded my eye-sight, I soon found by experience; herein I was wrong. But that I am always on the centre spot of the surface of the globe, is an undeniable truth. And as mature experience convinced me that my boyish thoughts were some of them right, I concluded it might be so with my study in politics” 77.
78- Excellent examination of “baptism” including infant baptism. John the Baptist 79. Inconsistencies of those who promote infant baptism 81. On “Mk. 16.15-16 “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned” 81-2. On Peter’s teaching on baptism 82-3. On Philip 83-4. The next baptizer, Ananias 84. Then Paul 84-6. Baptism of the Holy Ghost 87. The argument that many great reformers and preachers, in past ages, believed and practiced infant sprinkling; if error, would not God have convinced them of it, when he was with them, in so great a degree 89?
91- :The Virginia Chronicle.” Account of the different religious sects in Virginia. Settlement, population 94-95. The Quakers (persecuted by not put to death) 94. Of the slaves 94-8. Wishes its dissolution, but points out the great problems in so doing. Briefly on their religious worship etc. “THE UNIFORMITY OF RELIGION FOR ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY YEARS 98-99. OF THE PRESBYTERIANS 99-100. OF THE METHODISTS (Armenian) (Tremendous footnote on 101 about baptism) 100-1. OF THE TUNKERS 102-3. OF THE MENNONISTS 103-4 (Excellent comments on civil government). OF THE BAPTISTS 104-5. THE PERSECUTION OF BAPTISTS (Excellent reasons why no religious test should be required for office) 105-7. THE REASONS FOR THEIR DISSENT (107-109). THREE GREAT PRINCIPLES (The 3 great principles which divide the Christian world) 109-11. OF MARRIAGE 111-2. THE DECLENSION AMONG THE BAPTISTS (“But as they gained this piece of freedom, so the cares of war, the spirit of trade, and moving to the western waters, seemed to bring on a general declension. The ways of Zion mourned. They obtained their hearts’ desire, (freedom,) but had leanness in their souls. Some of the old watchmen stumbled and fell, iniquity did abound, and the love of many waxed cold…. FN 9N 114 WHY A CONFESSION OF FAITH?) 112-4. THE GREAT WORK (The declension ended in 1785 with revival) 114-6. THE NUMBER OF BAPTISTS 116-7. ON DRESS 117. THE EXCESS OF CIVIL POWER ESPLODED (Tremendous insights on freedom of conscience, chaplains paid by govt. (in army or legislature or elsewhere, the extent of power of civil govt. (can’t use Israel as example), govt. maintenance of religion) 117-9. WASHING OF FEET AND DRY CHRISTENING 120. THE VIRGINIA BAPTISTS COMPARED WITH THE GERMAN 120-1. SOME REMARKS 121-2. THE RIGHTS AND BONDS OF CONSCIENCE 122-3. THOUGHTS ON SYSTEMS 123-4.
125-171 “The First Rise of Sin.” “If the decalogue (the Ten Commandments) is all of a moral nature, the injunction is binding on all nations; and if all nations were under the bond of regarding the seventh day in a holy manner, it is strange that St. Paul never had occasion to reprove the Gentiles, for the breach of it, fas the Jewish prophet had to reprove their own nation; and, besides … If, in the New Testament, Christians are commanded to keep the first day, by Christ or his apostles, that divine appointment is sufficient; human legislatures have nothing to do in ordaining fixed holy days, establishing creeds of faith, requiring religious tests, certificates, or anything of the kind. 146.” [God could not have prevented sin. God decreed that angels and men should not sin. No law was given men or angels to sin. If it was the design, decree, or secret will of God, that creatures should sin, how can it be sin? for sin is the transgression of his will…. If sin is the cause of general good, all creatures should love it; and if creatures should love it, why are they called upon to repent of, and hate it? … And as it was not possible for God to sin, or make creatures sin, so, likewise, (considering him in the character of a moral governor, it was not possible for him to prevent it. Should a legislature do more than make laws, forbidding crimes; … the only means he could make use of to prevent it, would make them entirely miserable…. So it was with God; he loved his creatures, and sought to make them happy; and, as rational creatures cannot be happy without the freedom of their will, this freedom was established in them by God; and, in this point of view, it was not possible for God to have prevented their sin; as the only means that would have secured them from sin, would have made them completely miserable. 141-2.]
171-75: “Letter of Valediction on Leaving Virginia, in 1791.” To slave owners and slaves 173-4.
177-192 “The Rights of Conscience Inalienable, and therefore, Religious Opinions not Cognizable by Law. 1791.” “Did not the Christian religion prevail during the first three centuries, in a more glorious manner than ever it has since, not only without the aid of law, but in opposition to all the laws of haughty monarchs? And did not religion receive a deadly wound by being fostered in the arms of civil power and regulated by law? These things are so 181.” … “To say that ‘religion cannot stand without a state establishment,’ is not only contrary to fact, (as has been already proved), but is a contradiction in phrase. Religion must have stood a time before any law could have been made about it; and if it did stand almost three hundred years without law, it can still stand without it (182).” “… The evils of establishment are many. First, second, third (Uniformity. “Millions of men, women, and children, have been tortured to death, to produce uniformity, and tet the world has not advanced one inch towards it…. The duty of the magistrates is, not to judge of the divinity or tendency of doctrines; but when those principles break out into overt acts of violence, then to use the civil sword and punish the vagrant for what he has done, and not for the religious phrenzy that he acted from. 184), fourth (Leland completely obliterates the objection “that the ignorant part of the community are not capacitated to judge for themselves” which “supports the Popish hierarchy, and all Protestant, as well as Turkish and Pagan establishments in idea.”), fifth(182-6). He shows the biblical problems with the establishment of religion in Conn. (186-90).
193-95. The Modern Priest.
Circular Letter of the Stratsbury Association, 1794. 196-99. The deists and infidels are] “equally-assiduous in declaring what is not true, and never tell us what truth is. With all their boasted illumination in the ground and laws of nature, they never tell us what natural religion is, nor how the God of nature is to be worshiped (197). Tremendous!
213- .The Yankee Spy …, 1794. By Jack Nips. Answers questions about civil govt. including pre-flood, post flood (Nimrod, Gentile nations, the nation of Israel. Sample question with part answer: “Q. Has the ecclesiastical part of the Mosaic constitution ever been abused as well as the political part? A. Yes, and that to a degree. The church of Israel took in the whole nation, and none of that nation: Whereas, Christi’s church takes no whole nation, but those who fear God and work righteousness in every nation….” Circumcision and baptism 217-18. About English govt. 218-19. About the U.S. Const. 219-20. Const. of Mass. 220. A Bill of Rights with that of Mass. examined 22029. “If a man worships one God, three Gods, twenty Gods, or not God—if he pays adoration one day in a week seven days, or no day—wherein does he injure the life, liberty or property of another? Let any or all these actions be supposed to be religious evils of an enormous size, yet they are not crimes to be punished by the laws of state, which extend no further, in justice, that to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. (221).”
233-55. A Blow at the Root: Being a Fashionable Fast-Day Sermon Delivered 0409 1801. On liberty of conscience 239-. On persecution and murder of heretics by Papists, by Protestants, in Eng., in Mass. (Roger Williams banned, persecution, art. 3 of Mass. Const.), the reasons given for establishment (to prevent error, to effect and preserve uniformity of sentiment, to support the gospel) examined.
273-81. The Government of Christ a Christocracy, 1804. [On Mass. 279-81]. 283-300.An Elective Judiciary, with other things recommended in a speech…, 1805. Addresses the two arguments against electing judges: (1) the people have not wisdom and sedateness enough to select from among themselves , those who are best qualified to be judges and (2) if judges hold their office by t tenure of periodical elections, they will have such strong temptations to please the strongest party, in order to secure their next election, that they will not judge uprightly. 301-314. Ordination Sermon. Isaiah/s seraphims, Ezekiel’s cherubims, John’s four beasts are the same. What do they represent? 322-29. Various poems. 330-. Essays, 1810. [Why Christ was God 331-2].
[353-358. SPEECH: DELIVERED I THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF MASSACHUSETTS, ON THE SUBJECT OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, 1811. “Let Christianity stand upon its on basis, it is the greatest blessing that ever was among men; but incorporate it into the civil code and it becomes the mother of cruelties” 356.
356. “If, to escape this-dilemma, we adopt Papal maxim, that government is founded in grace, and, therefore, none but gracious men have a right to rule; and that these gracious rulers have both right and knowledge to legislate about religion, we shall find, what other nations have found, that these divine rulers, will be the most cruel tyrants: under this notion, Mr. Chairman, the crusades were formed in the eleventh century, which lasted about two hundred years, and destroyed nearly two millions of lives. In view of all this, and ten thousand times as much, is it to be wondered at, that the present petitioners, should be fearful of attaching corporate power to religious societies…. The interference of legislatures and magistrates, in the faith, worship, or support of religious worship, is the first step in the case, which leads in regular progression to inquisition; the principle I the same, the only difference is in the degree of usurpation…” 357.the Gospel, was now the point at issue. On which I reasoned thus: the New Testament I in existence: it as written either by bad men or by good men: to believe that bad men wrote it, requires a a faith more marvelous that it does to believe the truth of any article contained in it. Or bad men to form a book that condemns every species of sin—that lays the honors, pleasures, and wealth of the world in t dust—that enjoins patience under injury, and goof for evil—in short, to sacrifice everything that is pleasing to bad men: who can believe it? … The belief of the gospel never makes good men worse, but often makes bad men better…. 363. Proof of the resurrection 366. What the Bible teaches about disembodied spirits 369-70.
373-5: ADDRESS TO THE ASSOCIATIO OF THE SONS OF LIBERTY, CHESHIRE, MARCH 4, 1813.
381-405. THE JARRING INTERESTS OF HEAVEN RECONCILED BY THE BLOOD OF THE CROSS, 1814. [396-405. The works which were necessary for Christ to accomplish.]
406-39. MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS, IN PROSE AND VERSE. [419-20. Age and Egotism. “We come into the world ignorant. To aa child, every thing is new and impressive, and more so to a young man, that one of a greater age. The young man of genius, is charmed with the logic of his author, and feels impressed with his own arguments. He lays down his thesis, supports it with metaphysical [metaphysics means “a study of what is outside objective experience”] arguments, forms his syllogism, and draws his conclusion, with little or no doubt of the reality of the whole….” If I use this, continue with the rest on p420.][423 “So it is with metaphysical reasoning: the smallest error, in the outset, though undiscovered by the writer or reader, if pursued, under the pretext of consistency, will lead to an amazing distance from the truth.”][426-28: !!!!!!!! NIMROD, MOSES, CHRIST, AND THE UNITED STATES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!][440-46. ON SABBATICAL LAWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!][450-53: CATECHISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!][496-7. EXTRACT OF AA LETTER FROM J. L. TO HIS INQUISITIVE FRIEND][497-9. SHORT REFLECTIONS.][499-500. THE THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN][501-7. ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE REQUEST OF THE REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE OF ARRANGEMENTS, AT PITTSSFIELD, ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE, JULY 4, 1824][508-16.FORM OF A CHARGE TO A CNADIDATE AT HIS ORDINATION]
[572-82. SHORT SAYINGS ON TIMES, MEN, MEASURES AND RELIGION, EXHIBITED IN AN ADDRESS, DELIVERED AT CHESHIRE, JULY 5, 1830. On the national debt, the population, the office of Pope created in 606, (religious freedom, marriage of church and state 579-80), ][583-96. THE RESULT OF OBSERVATION, 1830. “In some governments, universal toleration is granted to all kinds of religious opinions. This sounds humane and benevolent, but has a deadly root. If government has power to grant it as a favor, it has equal power to withhold it. In such cases, the citizens enjoy their liberty by a tenure no better than the good will of those in power. But the freedom of religious opinions, not only with societies, but with individuals, is a right inalienable, that cannot be surrendered. Of course, no government can tolerate or prohibit it but by tyrannical usurpation. If men commit overt acts under a pretence of religious impression, let the magistrate punish them for the overt acts, and pity them for their delusion” 594. On the kingdom and also on Daniel Marshall 594.]
III. Church apostasy in America has followed the pattern of apostasy in Israel
IV. Church incorporation in the American colonies and after ratification of the Constitution
V. The relationship of God and state (Gentile nations)
VI. Government control over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations VII. Free under God or in bondage under Satan?
VIII. Apostasy at the end of the church age
IX. Conclusion Endnotes [Endnote 1 has information on books by Jerald Finney]
Note. Go directly to blue underlined articles, books, etc. by left clicking.
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2.6-8).
In the next series to be printed on this blog, the author will explain biblical doctrine of the church, a doctrine that must be correctly understood in order to understand that Christ is not pleased when a church subjects herself to the civil government in any manner, including incorporation and 501(c)(3). In that series the author will go into some detail concerning the doctrine of the church. For now, the following is offered as a brief comment concerning the biblical doctrine concerning churches:
“A church is a local visible assembly of persons who have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Only in the sense that since one cannot see the spiritual condition of people’s hearts is the church invisible. We can see the local assembly and those who outwardly attend a church, and we can see outward evidences of inward spiritual change, but we cannot actually see people’s hearts and view their spiritual state. Therefore, one can be in the visible church, yet unregenerate, lost, and destined for hell. As shown in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (See En1 for link to preview of this book and ordering information), all references in the New Testament to a church here on earth refer to an autonomous local body of Jewish and/or Gentile believers and not to a universal or catholic church (Ibid. at pp. 72-73). Paul wrote to local bodies here on earth (e.g., to the church at Corinth, the church at Ephesus, the churches of Galatia, etc.). Jesus walked in the midst of seven golden candlesticks (churches or assemblies: Re. 1.13; 2.1), not in the midst of a candlestick, and instructed John to write distinct messages to each of those seven churches or assemblies, each message to address the condition of and a warning to and/or approval of the particular church to whom the message was sent (Re. 1.1-3.22). His message to those churches and other messages to the churches in the New Testament are to local church bodies or assemblies. His messages to churches in Revelation as well as in other New Testament passages are to be studied and applied by each believer and each local New Testament church until the Rapture occurs. Every church should aim to please the Lord completely as did the church at Smryna and the church at Philadelphia.”
The present series addresses biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy of New Testament churches and the application of that teaching to churches in America. Heresy and apostasy of churches received thorough coverage in the New Testament. As understood by Jude, the principle of apostasy was also addressed thoroughly in the Old Testament, but in the context of God’s Old Testament people, the Jews, and their nation and religion. The New Testament predicted the apostasy of the professing church, treated the apostasy as having already set in, and described the cause and course. These biblical teachings are there for the instruction and admonition of individual believers, families, the nation, and the churches. By studying and applying biblical principle in faith, a church will please the Lord. Dire consequences result for individuals, families, the nation, and for every church which fails to do so.
In the first article of this series on heresy and apostasy, “On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, ‘The Treasure is in a Field,’” the author pointed to what is viewed by many as a great American church. Dr. Hyles missed a preeminent principle in the Word of God as to the organization of God’s churches in his sermon, “The Treasure is in a Field.” Dr. Hyles either did not understand biblical principle concerning the two types of marriage—the marriage of Christ and His churches the marriage of man and woman—or he disregarded those principles. As a result of his error, the chickens may already be coming home to roost at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (referred to hereinafter as “First Baptist”). As the author has long pointed out, when a church and pastor compromise basic biblical principle regarding separation of church and state, that church has dishonored her love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and has headed down the road to heresy and apostasy. When compromise is made, even by a great man of God like Jack Hyles, the church he pastors has dishonored God, taken a step toward apostasy, and will sooner or later be led by one who will further compromise biblical truth.
In the next article in this series, “Jack Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, Heresy and Apostasy,” the author pointed to some heretical teachings at First Baptist which Dr. Hyles would never have tolerated, and – in Part II of that article – summarized biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy in God’s churches.
As a result of the first two articles mentioned above, pastors and Christians sent e-mail letters expressing their support or opposition to the articles mentioned above. Some of those letters and my responses may be read in the third article in this series, “Letters from pastors regarding Hyles/Schaap and other articles.”
In the third article in this series “Recent accelerated apostasy in the United States,” the author examined the accelerating pace of apostasy in today’s American churches. Churches are now concerned with growth and appealing to the self and to the flesh rather than with biblical principle and spiritual growth. As a result of these spiritually dead churches and their efforts, a smaller and smaller percentage of people are being saved.
This article, the fourth in this series, traces the beginning and development of heresy and apostasy in American churches beginning in the early history of the United States of America.
The thinking that sacrifices truth for unity and superficial peace is not biblical. Christians are instructed to examine doctrinal differences in light of Scripture. Christians have a duty to expose and condemn unbiblical teaching and behavior. Paul rebuked people by name (Phil. 4.2-3; 1 Ti. 1.20; 2 Ti. 2.17). John condemned Diotrophes, a church leader who rejected the apostolic letters and authority (3 Jn.).
Believers are to speak the truth in love. This series of articles on heresy and apostasy does just that. The ultimate goal is to glorify and please our Lord by presenting truth in the hopes that some Christians and churches will wake up, reject heresy and apostasy, place themselves solely under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and again proclaim the Gospel with power in order that more souls will be saved. Does not the Lamb of God deserve the reward of His suffering? Should a Christian not bear his cross for the glory of the One who gave His all for him?
Spiritual treasure is being lost and abandoned and no one seems to know why. This series of articles explain why.
Many factors have contributed to the attacks on God’s Word and the apostasy churches—for example, the enlightenment, the industrial revolution, and Darwinism. Enlightenment thought or humanism was brought into churches 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 of the Word of God were infiltrating churches and Christian educational institutions to one degree or another.
Jesus Christ is the head of His churches in all things. However, Christ will permit a church to betray Him and take herself from under His authority 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.” Isaac Backus, the great Baptist leader in the colony of Massachusetts wrote: “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 I, (Eugene Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), fn. 1, p. 158, quoting Roger Williams, Bloody Tenent.
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 (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. “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).).
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 is shown in “Analysis of another reason given for church corporate status: to hold property” (an article on this blog) and in Chapter 7 God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (See En1 for link to preview of this book and ordering information), 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)) (hereinafter referred to as “501(c)(3)”) has agreed to further limitations and controls by a secular head.
III. Church apostasy in America has followed the pattern of Apostasy in Israel
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 (De. 7.1-6).” “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 of God Betrayed, in the article “An Abridged History of the First Amendment,” and in the audio teachings by Jerald Finney – “History of the First Amendment,” and “Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teachings on the ‘History of the First Amendment” – 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), pp. 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 (De. 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” (I S. 12.12) 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—who 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 of God Betrayed, Christ, the prophets, and other men of God have warned 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 congregation is a religious organization and 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 an organization will begin to compromise the Word of God and the principles of God. It must, because it either does not understand the biblical doctrine of the church or it understands and refuses through fear and/or other motive to comply with God’s Word. Sooner or later that organization will have a pastor who is not good. As more people are attracted by liberal religious organizations, the number of Bible believing individuals and churches diminishes. The remnant grows smaller by the day. This is demonstrated by the growth of liberal religious organizations, the congregations of the Faith Movement, the “Church” Growth Movement, and the Emerging “Church” Movement as shown in Section II of God Betrayed and in the earlier articles on apostasy on this blog referred to in the “Preface” above. Many of the organizations 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 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.
IV. Church incorporation in the American colonies
and after ratification of the Constitution
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. The incorporation in the colonies differed in respects to modern incorporation in that, at least in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, the state church more or less ran the state whereas under modern incorporation, the state has power over incorporated churches, but incorporated churches have no power over 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 Section II, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed, 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 religious organizations in order to control, educate, and define them. 26 United States Code (“U.S.C.”)(IRC) § 501(c)(3), an unconstitutional law passed in the early twentieth century 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 a church since a God’s people should always strive to keep their agreements, even anti-biblical contracts they willingly enter into), consume tremendous physical and material resources. Modern American incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations are many times at odds with their new sovereign over what they may say and do.
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 designed by God to be a biblical covenant. The Bible compares not only Christ and His church, as shown in Section III, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed, 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 churches 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 churches 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 churches 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, En 2 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.
V. The relationship of God and state (Gentile nations)
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 assure 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 New Testament churches 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 the theorcracy of Israel as well as 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 and the courts 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.
VI. Government control over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations
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, 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, as explained in Sections IV and V of God Betrayed, 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 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 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 is shown in “The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme”, the audio teaching “Union of Church and State in America: Incorporation and 501(c)(3) Tax Exemption,”, in the radio broadcasts “God Betrayed: Union of Church and State,”and in Section VI, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed, 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.
VII. Free under God or in bondage under Satan?
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).”
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.
VIII. Apostasy at the end of the church age
The Lord says to the church of the Laodiceans, at the end of the church age and at the final stage of the apostasy:
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Re. 3.15-19)
Many pastors believe that the saved will go to heaven but be without rewards should they not follow after Christ after salvation. Pastor Joey Faust states the following concerning the church at Laodicea:
“To fall from, one has to be in something first. I believe Laodicea is a church made up of TRUE (thus real) Christians, who nevertheless have fallen away from truth and fellowship with Jesus in their materialism, pride, etc. This church and its pastor (and all true churches in the last days who are Laodicean) will lose the right to reign and fellowship with Jesus when He appears—thus the Lord’s command to be zealous and repent!” (See J.D. Faust, The Rod: Will God Spare It? (Hanesville, N.C.: Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc. 2002))
Whether one agrees with Pastor Faust or not concerning this issue, the Bible shows that at the end of the church age, the Lord will be outside the Laodicean church (Re. 3.20). Nonetheless, He will still be there for the individual, just as He, while on earth as the second Adam, still appealed to the individual after the nation Israel rejected His rule over the nation: “If any man will hear my voice, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Ibid.).
The final result of the apostasy will be the great ecclesiastical harlot spoken of in Revelation 17 and 18. In Revelation 17 is mystery Babylon, the apostate church (J. Vernon McGee, Revelation, Volume 1 (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1980), p. 89).
“… The church of Thyatira, described in Revelation 2.18-29, which permitted Jezebel to teach, will become the apostate church of the great tribulation. It will attain the goal of the present-day apostates of all the great systems of the world: Romanism, Protestantism, pagan religions, cults and isms. Even in our so-called independent Bible churches there will be those who are not believers, and during the tribulation they will join this great organization that may call itself a church but is not. The Bible calls it a harlot…. This is ecumenical ecclesiasticism of the one-world church….” (Ibid., pp. 89-91)
Believers will not go through God’s wrath; they will be raptured out before the God pours out his wrath…. The rest of the church members will be left here on this earth. As Dr. George Gill used to say, some churches will meet the Sunday after the rapture and will not miss a member…. They are part of a pseudo-religious system,
True believers will be glorified (Mt. 13.36-43; Ro. 8.18-23). The Lord will rapture the dead in Christ and those who are born again: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Th. 4.16-17).
Ecclesiastical Babylon (apostate Christendom, the harlot whom many biblical scholars logically conclude will be headed up under the Papacy and which will at that time condone every iniquity of the rich and will be corrupted to the core by commercialism, wealth, and luxury) will be destroyed by political Babylon, that is by the nations; and political Babylon, the nations, will be crushed by Christ when they come against Israel at the end of the tribulation (See Re. 17.15-18). All this will happen because men choose to succumb to Satan’s principles in order to satisfy their lusts.
The Supreme Ruler ordained churches. He gave churches—as He has given individual, family and civil governments—His Word wherein they can learn God’s guidelines which He wishes His body, His churches, as well as all other governments to follow. Satan has successfully misled most churches and other governments, and most have followed his principles. He has used false teachers from the beginning. As a result, apostasy crept into churches shortly after its inception. That apostasy has accelerated in America as the rapture and the tribulation approaches.
Many or most people in American churches today are materially rich, but spiritually poor and blind. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Re. 3.17). As He was not deceived, but His bride was, “… Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Ti. 2.14, Ro. 5.14, Ge. 3.1-6). As the first Adam had to give up a perfect existence in order to be with his wife, so the last Adam, Christ (1 Co. 15.22, 45), stepped down from heaven to save his bride.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3.16-19).
“[Jesus], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Ph. 2.6-8).
“While the first Adam “blew it,” the last Adam would make everything right! (Romans 5:12-21) Charles Wesley set this doctrine to music with the words, ‘Second Adam from above, reinstate us with thy love.’ … “The all-important verse that connects this typology to the present Laodicean apostasy is Ecclesiastes 1:9a: ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done….’ Thus, the history of mankind will undoubtedly end the same way it began—with a bride being deceived!” (William P. Grady, How Satan Turned America Against God (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 2005), p. vii.)
Regardless of this inevitable apostasy and the events that are to follow, things are looking good for you and me—that is, if you are a Christian! A Christian, as opposed to one who is merely saved, is a saved person who also dies to self and seeks to follow God’s principles. As verified by reality and by biblical teachings, many saved people are not Christians.
En 1 All books, except An Abridged History of the First Amendment, by Jerald Finney are available free in both PDF and online form. One may go to Order information for books by Jerald Finney should he desire to order any of the books which are in print.
En2 The 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Matthew 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.”
As this study progresses, the Christian who has listened closely to the previous broadcasts will begin to understand the importance of all the prior broadcasts to the issue of separation of church and state and the history of the First Amendment. The historical facts presented in this section should be taught in every American History class. Only when one knows history (plus biblical theology and law) can he understand where he came from, where he is, and where he is going. Only when one knows the facts presented in these studies and included in books by Jerald Finney in more detail, can he understand how we got our First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
This begins the study of the American application of the biblical principle of separation of church and state. Since the beginning of the church, Christians believed and practiced separation of church and state. They paid dearly for this practice. In the fourth century certain religious leaders were seduced by Constantine to join hands with the state. Over a thousand years of the worst persecutions imaginable followed as religion worked hand in hand with the state to enforce all ten of the commandments. Anyone who did not bow down to the theology of the state church was imprisoned, horriby tortured, burned alive, drowned, buried alive, beheaded, etc. as the state religion tried to stamp out all forms of what they called “heresy.” The Protestant churches followed the theology of their mother in this matter and continued the persecution. However, forces and circumstances were such in the American colonies that the final result was the first nation, the second civil government behind the colony of Rhode Island, to have religious liberty.
Jerald Finney’s broadcasts on Liberty Works Radio Network are aired and streamed over the internet on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Central Time (7:00 a.m. ET, 9:00 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT). Click the following link and scroll to the bottom to go to LWRN radio: LWRN (this link is also on the “Radio Broadcast” page of churchandstatelaw.com).
The story of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution begins with the first New Testament martyr and includes all the subsequent millions who were persecuted and killed because they placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him alone. You see, the heroes of the faith had and have life and liberty, unlike millions of contemporary American “Christians.” Martyrs—and those truly willing to give their life for Christ but who have not suffered martyrdom—have life because they have Christ. They also have been made free through Holy Spirit led study of God’s Word: Jesus said “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” (Jn. 8.31-32). Although the religious crowd may persecute and perhaps kill them, no one can take either their eternal lives or their liberty.
These martyrs and persecuted ones, including those in the American colonies, comprise the remnant who have, in every age, kept the light of Christ alive in spite of their sufferings. The climax of the sufferings of the saints occurred when the United States, by adding the First Amendment to her Constitution, made America the first modern nation, and the second civil government, to recognize the God ordained principle of religious liberty or separation of church and state (not separation of God and state).
Indeed, freedom of religion was
“unknown at the time of the birth of Jesus. Even the ancient republics never recognized it…. Early did Christians avow and amplify religious liberty. The blood of persecution brought to the front this doctrine…. Freedom of religion is hardly a Protestant [or Catholic] doctrinal tenet, but it does belong to the Baptists…. The state of Teprice in Armenia, in the ninth century, gave absolute freedom of opinion and conscience for one hundred and fifty years before being overcome. All around them were persecutions for conscience sake – they themselves had lost one hundred thousand members by persecutions in the reign of Theodora – yet here was a shelter offered to every creed and unbeliever alike. The Baptists have always set up religious liberty when they had the opportunity.”
John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists, (Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas: Bogard Press), pp. 38-41, 51-52.
Religious liberty is a Baptist distinctive; and, historic Baptists are the primary people responsible for this freedom in those modern nations which recognize it. By Baptist is meant those who – regardless of identifying name such as Waldensian, Donatist, etc., adhere to certain fundamental Bible principles – one of those being separation of church and state or religious freedom and freedom of conscience. America was the first modern nation to guarantee freedom of conscience and religion (separation of church and state), and Rhode Island had set the example later followed by America and, later, some other nations. In many nations Christians are still persecuted, tortured, and ruthlessly murdered.
After this introduction and before going to the beginning, I will give the view of one very famous martyr, John Bunyan, as to the relationship between church and state. I will do this by quoting from his trial which occurred at a point in time in which both England and the United States were on the road to the rejection of the heretical biblical teaching that resulted in the union of church and state and the murders by the state-church combinations of untold millions of those labeled as “heretics” [EN1]. From there, I will give an overview of the persecution of believers from John the Baptist until the colonization of America. Then, I will summarize the theological warfare in the American colonies that culminated in the First Amendment.
Please consider that the information you will read is factual. The author is a born-again believer and lawyer who has been, since his salvation, a faithful member of an independent fundamental Baptist Church. Further consider that he has worked many years to try to bring America back under God. Like millions of other American Christians who have worked for this cause, he has experienced much frustration as he saw America continue to deteriorate morally, spiritually, and in every other way. This article presents his findings of fact gained over several years of intense study of the Bible, law, and history—the American history courses he had taken, his First Amendment class at the University of Texas School of Law, and a considerable volume of “Christian” writings censored these facts. These facts must be known, understood, and applied in order for Christians to proceed “according to knowledge” and, therefore, before God will honor the spiritual warfare of Christian soldiers (See 2 Pe. 1:4-10; Ho. 4:6-9; 2 Ti. 2:3-4; Ep. 6:10-18). I am sure that most, like the author before he searched the annals of history, do not know many of these preeminent, actual, and verifiable occurrences and writings.
The trial of John Bunyan is instructive to one who wishes to please our Lord. Mr. Bunyan was arrested and charged with persistent and willful transgression of the Conventicle Act which prohibited all British subjects from absenting themselves from worship in the Church of England, and from conducting services apart from that church. He refused counsel and admitted that he had never attended services in the Church of England and stated that he never intended to do so. He continued,
“secondly, it is no secret that I preach the Word of God whenever, wherever, and to whomever He pleases to grant me opportunity to do so. I have no choice but to acknowledge the awareness of the law which I am accused of transgressing. Likewise, I have no choice but to confess my guilt in my transgression of it. As true as these things are, I must affirm that I neither regret breaking the law, nor repent of having broken it. Further, I must warn you that I have no intention of conforming to it.” I now continue with the dialogue between Bunyan and Judge Wingate.
“Judge Wingate: ‘It is obvious, sir, that you are a victim of deranged thinking. If my ears deceive me not, I must infer from your words that you believe the State to have no interest in the religious life of its subjects.’
“John Bunyan: ‘The State, M’lord, may have an interest in anything in which it wishes to have an interest. But the State has no right whatever to interfere in the religious life of its citizens.’
“Judge Wingate: ‘The evidence I hold in my hand, even apart from your own admission of guilt, is sufficient to convict you, and the Court is within its rights to have you committed to prison for a considerably long time. I do not wish to send you to prison, Mr. Bunyan. I am aware of the poverty of your family, and I believe you have a little daughter who, unfortunately, was born blind. Is this not so?’
“John Bunyan: ‘It is, M’Lord.’ “Judge Wingate: ‘Very well. The decision of the Court is this: In as much as the accused has confessed his guilt, we shall follow a merciful and compassionate course of action. We shall release him on condition that he swear solemnly to discontinue the convening of religious meetings, and that he affix his signature to such an oath prior to quitting the Courtroom. That will be all, Mr. Bunyan. I hope not to see you here again. May we hear the next case?’
“John Bunyan: ‘M’lord, if I may have another moment of the Court’s time?’
“Judge Wingate: ‘Yes, but you must be quick about it. We have other matters to attend to. What is it?’
“John Bunyan: ‘I cannot do what you ask of me, M’lord. I cannot place my signature upon any document in which I promise henceforth not to preach. My calling to preach the Gospel is from God, and He alone can make me discontinue what He has appointed me to do. As I have no word from Him to that effect, I must continue to preach, and I shall continue to preach.’
“Judge Wingate: ‘I warn you, sir, the Court has gone the second mile to be lenient with you, out of concern for your family’s difficult straits. Truth to tell, it would appear that the Court’s concern for your family far exceeds your own. Do you wish to go to prison?’
“John Bunyan: ‘No, M’lord. Few things there are that I would wish less.’
“Judge Wingate: ‘Very well, then, Mr. Bunyan. This Court will make one further attempt in good faith to accommodate what appears to be strongly held convictions on your part. In his compassion and beneficence, our Sovereign, Charles II, has made provision for dissenting preachers to hold some limited licenses.
“‘You will not find the procedure burdensome, and even you, Mr. Bunyan, must surely grant the legitimacy of the State’s interest in ensuring that any fool with a Bible does not simply gather a group of people together and begin to preach to them. Imagine the implications were that to happen! Can you comply with this condition, Mr. Bunyan?
“‘Before you answer, mark you this: should you refuse, the Court will have no alternative but to sentence you to a prison term. Think, sir, of your poor wife. Think of your children, and particularly of your pitiful, sightless little girl. Think of your flock, who can hear you to their hearts’ content when you have secured your licenses. Think on these things, and give us your answer, sir!’
“John Bunyan: ‘M’lord, I appreciate the Court’s efforts to be as you have put it – accommodating. But again, I must refuse your terms. I must repeat that it is God who constrains me to preach, and no man or company of men may grant or deny me leave to preach. These licenses of which you speak, M’lord, are symbols not of a right, but of a privilege. Implied therein is the principle that a mere man can extend or withhold them according to his whim. I speak not of privileges, but of rights. Privileges granted by men may be denied by men. Rights are granted by God, and can be legitimately denied by no man. I must therefore refuse to comply.’
“Judge Wingate: [Proceeded to sentence Mr. Bunyan to six years in the Bedford jail which ended up costing Mr. Bunyan 12 years of his life behind bars.]”[EN2]
John Bunyan did not suffer the fate of many of his spiritual ancestors who had stood against union of church and state in any manner, although most of them never received a trial. The court did not sentence him to death by beheading, fire, drowning, or some other horrible means. Instead, the court sentenced him to a term in prison; but “the wrath of man was made to praise God; for had not his zealous servant been compelled to this solitude, we should not have had that masterpiece of literature,” Pilgrim’s Progress, a book full of biblical truth and a book for all people for all time.[EN3]
After being released after 12 years in prison, he continued to produce fruit for the Glory of God. For example, many Baptist churches were gathered as a result of his labors.[EN4] Mr. Bunyan followed a long line of believers, from John the Baptist forward, who had died and/or been persecuted for their faith. Starting with the apostles, all of whom except John died for their faith, true believers have always stood on the principle, “We ought to obey God rather than men (Ac. 5.29)”—refusing to give up the life given them when they placed their faith in Jesus Christ, and their liberty gained through coming to a knowledge of truth as a result of continuing in God’s Word after their salvation.
III. Persecution of believers until the colonization of America
Historically, Christians, as warned by Jesus and the apostles, have been persecuted for their faith. Their persecutions were usually the result of obeying God rather than a lower earthly authority—the civil authority and/or the established religion. Christians were persecuted from the beginning of the church. After union of church and state in the fourth century, the established “church,” in conjunction with the state, persecuted Christians.
John the Baptist is of utmost importance. With him, “[a] new light had burst upon a sin cursed world. A new era had dawned. Another kingdom was about to be ushered in.” [EN5] He was the forerunner and way preparer of Jesus. “He cannot be made to fit the notion that the church of Christ and the world-that-lies-around-it are ‘of-a-piece’, that Christianity is similar to ethnic faiths.”[EN6] He introduced a thought system at odds with that of the Old Testament in which religion and state were integrated as a theocracy, a thought system that was first recognized in America, first by the governing documents of the colony of Rhode Island and second by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. He preached a baptism that required a choice, and he preached it to all, including Jew and Gentile and including those of every position in society. The change required for his baptism required repentance on the level of the spiritual. Because of his open stand, John the Baptist became the first martyr for the faith. As most Christians are aware, John was decapitated as a result of exposing the sin of Herod—having Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife (Mt. 14:1-13; Mk. 6:14-19; Lu. 9:7-9).
The next Christian martyr was our Lord Himself who came to earth to be persecuted and crucified, as prophesied in many Old Testament passages. Jesus continued and expanded upon this new system introduced by John the Baptist. Jesus used a modifier with the word “kingdom,” an adjective to keep two-of-a-kind apart: He spoke of the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of earth.”[EN7] He preached two kinds of sermons—one for believers and one for non-believers.[EN8] He even distinguished between two jurisdictions when he said, “Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:21). When Jesus felt the need of a sanctuary, He did not go to the temple (the center of the unified Jewish nation/religion); He, like John the Baptist, went to the desert. “His body was a replacement-of-the-temple, not only in the matter of being torn-down and then put-together again, but also as the instrument intended for contact-making between man and Maker.”[EN9] Unlike the theocracy of Israel and Gentile pagan nations which united religion and state in which the religion/state sought to unify all members of the nation walking lockstep for the same goals and which was intended to bring peace and unity through that system, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Mt. 10:34-36). The religious/civil system in place was so at variance with Him that the religious leaders, who should have known through Scripture who He was, used the arm of the state to put Him to death. In effect, He lay down His life for those who would call upon His name. The First Amendment was in line with Jesus’ thought system.
“Out of the thought program begun by John the Baptist, and continued by Christ, came the Church of Christ.”[EN10] Jesus’ followers continued the example set by Him and John the Baptist. They had and have the promise of persecution: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3:12). Jesus preached to the multitudes concerning persecution of His followers:
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mt. 5.10-12).
Jesus warned the disciples that His followers would suffer persecution:
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (Jn. 15.18-21). [Emphasis mine.]
Following the crucifixion of the Savior “in rapid succession fell many other martyred heroes [in addition to Stephen, already mentioned, and Paul, infra]: … Matthew was slain in Ethiopia, Mark dragged through the streets until dead, Luke hanged, Peter and Simeon were crucified, Andrew tied to a cross, James beheaded, Philip crucified and stoned, Bartholomew flayed alive, Thomas pierced with lances, James, the less, thrown from the temple and beaten to death, Jude shot to death with arrows, Matthias stoned to death….” [EN11]
At first, the persecution of Christians was by the Jewish religious leaders. Paul (then called Saul) was present at the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr after the resurrection of Christ (Ac. 8.1). Paul, before salvation, was actively involved in persecution: “As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison” (Ac. 8.3). After Paul’s salvation, he was persecuted and finally beheaded. He was seized by the Jews during his last visit to Jerusalem. They would have killed him, but as they were beating him, the chief captain of the Romans took soldiers and centurions, intervened, and held him. At that time Paul was allowed to speak to the people. He said,
“I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” (Ac. 22.3-4).
Rome persecuted Christians off and on until the early fourth century. The persecution varied in extent and duration with various emperors.[EN12] Then, some “churches” were recognized by the state and formed a union with the state and became the official state “church.”
“[U]nder the leadership of Emperor Constantine there [came] a truce, a courtship and proposal of marriage. The Roman Empire through its emperor [sought] a marriage with Christianity. Give us your spiritual power and we will give you of our temporal power….
“In A.D. 313, a call was made for a coming together of the Christian churches or their representatives. Many but not all came. The alliance was consummated. A Hierarchy was formed. In the organization of the Hierarchy, Christ was dethroned as head of the churches and Emperor Constantine enthroned (only temporarily, however) as head of the church. “[This was the beginning of what became the Catholic church.]
“Let it be definitely remembered that when Constantine made his call for the council, there were very many of the Christians … and of the churches, which declined to respond. They wanted no marriage with the state, and no centralized religious government, and no higher ecclesiastical government of any kind, than the individual church.”[EN13]
Before the union of church and state, both Judaism and Paganism, using the arm of the state, had persecuted Christians who loved their Lord and refused to obey civil or any other authority which required Christians to violate the will of the Supreme Authority. After the union, “Christians” began to persecute Christians. “Thus [began] the days and years and even centuries of a hard and bitter persecution against all those Christians who were loyal to the original Christ and Apostolic teachings.”[EN14] Some leaders of that new state “church” who had supported liberty, “forgot what they had preached in their youth” and supported persecution of dissenters. The most significant of these was Augustine:
“Augustine made much use of the passage in Luke 14.23: ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.’ His position on religious liberty has been summarized in the maxim commonly (though erroneously) ascribed to him: ‘When error prevails, it is right to invoke liberty of conscience; but when, on the contrary, the truth predominates, it is just to use coercion.’
“Augustine’s influence on the course of religious liberty and the relationship of church and state can hardly be measured. Fifteen hundred years have passed since his death, yet his teachings are still a potent factor in the position of the Catholic Church on the subject of religion and government. As a result of his teaching, the principle that religious unity ought to be imposed in one way or another dominates the whole of the Christian Middle Ages and finds a concise and rigorous sanction in civil as well as in ecclesiastical legislation.
“Because of Augustine, more than any other person, ‘the Medieval church was intolerant, was the source and author of persecution, justified and defended the most violent measures which could be taken against those who differed from it.’”[EN15]
The Donatists were among the first dissenters persecuted by the church-state union. The Council of Arles, prior to the union of church and state in 325, decided, in a Kangaroo court, against the Donatists; and “the Emperor enforced the decision with the secular arm.”[EN16] After the Council of Nicæa, Constantine issued an edict against all dissenters, including the Donatists, forbidding their meetings in private or public, ordering their places of worship torn down, their property confiscated to the Catholic Church.[EN17]
The purpose of the persecutions against the Donatists was stated by Augustine: “To crush the immodesty and to curb the audacity of the men whose madness had so overrun all Africa that the Catholic truth could not be preached in many places.”[EN18] The Catholic church, using Old Testament passages to justify their actions, committed savage cruelties and violence against dissenters. Executioners “who had obtained favor with secular princes in the deaths of the saints, when very many venerable ministers were killed, others were sent into exile, and the sacred cause of Christianity was harassed far and wide; virgins were violated, the wealthy were proscribed, the poor were spoiled, and ministers who were fleeing from their own churches were taken in their flight.”[EN19]
The Middle Ages reflected the thinking of “Augustine and Aquinas, who taught that salvation could be achieved through compulsion, and that oppression and persecution of heretics was not merely the right but the holy duty of the Church.”[EN20] “Over 50,000,000 Christians died martyr deaths … during the period of the ‘dark ages’ alone—about twelve or thirteen centuries.”[EN211]
The Inquisition was instituted in 1215 A.D. at a Council called by Pope Innocent III:
“[P]robably the most cruel and bloody thing ever brought upon any people in all the world’s history was what is known as the ‘Inquisition,’ and other similar courts, designed for trying what was called ‘heresy.’ The whole world is seemingly filled with books written in condemnation of that extreme cruelty, and yet it was originated and perpetuated by a people claiming to be led and directed by the Lord. For real barbarity there seems to be nothing, absolutely nothing in all history that will surpass it.”[EN22]
The atrocities and heresies of the Catholic “church” eventually led to an effort to reform that “church” from within. Among the greatest of the reformers were Martin Luther, who started the Lutheran church (which became the state-church of Germany), and John Calvin, founder of the Presbyterian church (which became the state-church of Scotland). During this period of reformation, there always existed those who dissented from Catholic and Reformation theology. In early sixteenth century Germany, two currents flowed in opposite directions. One, fostered by the established church, was toward a state-church. The other, promoted by dissenters, was toward separation of church and state. When a Protestant church became an established church it continued the persecution practiced by the harlot church. “Both the Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches brought out of their Catholic Mother many of her evils, among them her idea of a State Church. They both soon became Established Churches. Both were soon in the persecuting business, falling little if any, short of their Catholic Mother.”[EN23]
Martin Luther wrote: “It is out of the question that there should be a common Christian government over the whole world. Nay, over even one land or company of people since the wicked always outnumber the good. A man who would venture to govern an entire country or the world with the Gospel would be like a shepherd who would place in one fold wolves, lions, eagles, and sheep together and let them freely mingle with one another and say, ‘Help yourselves, and be good and peaceful among yourselves. The fold is open, there is plenty of food, have no fear of dogs and clubs.’ The sheep forsooth would keep the peace and would allow themselves to be fed and governed in peace; but they would not live long nor would any beast keep from molesting another. For this reason, these two kingdoms must be sharply distinguished and both be permitted to remain. The one to produce piety, the other to bring about external peace and prevent evil deeds. Neither is sufficient to the world without the other.”[EN24]
“When Luther was expecting excommunication and assassination, he pleaded that: Princes are not to be obeyed when they command submission to superstitious error, but their aid is not to be invoked in support of the Word of God. Heretics, he said, must be converted by the Scriptures, and not by fire. With passion he asserted:
“I say, then neither pope, nor bishop, nor any man whatever has the right of making one syllable binding on a Christian man, unless it be done with his own consent. Whatever is done otherwise is done in the spirit of tyranny…. I cry aloud on behalf of liberty and conscience, and I proclaim with confidence that no kind of law can with any justice be imposed on Christians, except so far as they themselves will; for we are free from all.”[EN25]
Nonetheless, Luther later, when he had made an effective alliance with the secular power, advocated that the magistrate, who does not make the law of God, enforce the law of God. According to Luther, “The law is of God and from God. The State is the law-enforcing agency, administering a law of God that exists unchangeably from all eternity….
“The need for a state arises from the fact that all men do not hear the word of God in a spirit of obedience. The magistrate does not make the law, which is of God, but enforces it. His realm is temporal, and the proper ordering of it is his responsibility. Included in the proper ordering the maintenance of churches where the word of God is truly preached and the truly Christian life is taught by precept and example. In his realm, subject to the law of God, the Prince is supreme, nor has man the right to rebel against him. But if the Prince contravenes the law of God, man may be passively disobedient, in obedience to a higher and the only finally valid law.”[EN26]
“Heretics are not to be disputed with, but to be condemned unheard, and whilst they perish by fire, the faithful ought to pursue the evil to its source, and bathe their hands in the blood of the Catholic bishops, and of the Pope, who is the devil in disguise.”[EN27]
Luther espoused that coercion by the state to achieve religious unity was justifiable. This was an expansion of Erastian philosophy—“the assumption of state superiority in ecclesiastical affairs and the use of religion to further state policy.” Erastianism … pervaded all Europe, with the exception of Calvin’s ecclesiocratic Geneva, after the Reformation.[EN28] Erastianism achieved its greatest triumph in England.[EN29]
Luther’s position resulted in persecution of dissenters such as Anabaptists who believed in believer’s baptism. Although there is no reason to believe that the Anabaptists were explicit believers in a separation of church and state and in religious tolerance, opposition to a state-church follows logically from their thinking behind adult baptism:
“Believer’s baptism [was] the key to religious thought of the Anabaptists. Infant baptism implies that a child may be admitted into the Church without his understanding or personal consent. Such a church must be a formal organization, with sponsored membership possible for those whose years permit neither faith nor understanding. Adult baptism implies a different concept of the Church. The anabaptized are the elect of a visible church which is essentially a religious community of the elect. But obviously such a church could in no sense be a State Church. The Prince could neither bring it into being, regulate it, nor enforce membership in it; indeed, any connection between the State and such a church could only be injurious to the Church. Adult baptism on the surface is remote from the concept of a separated Church and State, yet such separation is implicit in the rationale of Anabaptism. The call to such a church can never come from the palace of the Prince; it must come from the Kingdom of Heaven….”[EN30] [Emphasis mine.]
John Calvin pointed out that “‘these two [church and state] … must always be examined separately; and while one is being considered, we must call away and turn aside the mind from thinking about the other.’ He followed this approach in order to expound the ‘[d]ifferences between spiritual and civil government,’ insisting that ‘we must keep in mind the distinction … so that we do not (as so commonly happens) unwisely mingle these two, which have a completely different nature.’”[EN31] He taught that “the church does not assume to itself what belongs to the magistrate, nor can the magistrate execute that which is executed by the Church.”[EN32]
However, when Calvin established his ecclesiocracy (the author uses this term to denote a civil government in which the church and state work together to enforce spiritual and earthly laws unlike the theocracy in Israel in which God himself was directly over the state) in Geneva, absence from the sermon, and missing the partaking of the Sacrament were punished. “Criticism of the clergy was included in the crime of blasphemy and blasphemy was punishable by death” as was the contention that “it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death.”[EN33] Government had “‘the duty of rightly establishing religion’ and had as its ‘appointed end’ to ‘cherish and protect the outward worship of God, to defend sound doctrine of piety and the position of the church.’”[EN34] Calvin’s ecclesiocratic relationship of church and state was “based on ecclesiastical supremacy and the use of state machinery to further religious interests.”[EN35]
During this same period, the Church of England arose from a split or division in the Catholic ranks. Henry VIII, king of England, “threw off papal authority and made himself head of the Church of England” when the Pope refused to grant him a divorce from Catherine of Spain so that he could marry Anne Boelyn. Henry’s successor, Mary, reinstated Catholicism, but her successor, Elizabeth, re-established the Church of England.
“Thus, before the close of the Sixteenth Century, there were five established Churches—churches backed up by civil governments—the Roman and Greek Catholics [the Greek Catholics separated from the Roman Catholics in the ninth century] counted as two, then the Church of England; then the Lutheran, or Church of Germany, then the Church of Scotland now known as the Presbyterian. All of them were bitter in their hatred and persecution of the people called Ana-Baptists, Waldenses and all other non-established churches, churches which never in any way had been connected with the Catholics…. Many more thousands, including both women and children were constantly perishing every day in the yet unending persecutions. The great hope awakened and inspired by the reformation had proven to be a bloody delusion. Remnants now [found] an uncertain refuge in the friendly Alps and other hiding places over the world.”[EN36]
Sometime in the early seventeenth century, the Congregational church began. That church repudiated preacher rule and returned “to the New Testament democratic idea” while retaining many other “Catholic made errors such as infant baptism, pouring or sprinkling for baptism, and later adopted and practiced to an extreme degree the church and state idea. And, after refugeeing to America, themselves, became very bitter persecutors.”[EN37]
IV. Religious freedom recognized in America
A detailed history of the theological warfare and persecution of dissenters in the colonies is beyond the scope of this article. You may read a much more comprehensive account of the facts that led to the adoption of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution in the book, God Betrayed [EN38] or by clicking the following link: Online version of Section IV of God Betrayed, History of the First Amendment.You may also listen to much more detailed audio teachings on this subject on this blog by clicking the following link: History of the First Amendment.
Spiritual warfare in America resulted in the first and second civil governments in history (first, the colony of Rhode Island and second, the United States of America) which had complete religious freedom. In the United States, that liberty was declared by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which says:
“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 peaceable to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Established churches in the American colonies persecuted dissenters. The struggle over separation of church and state moved from the old world to the new, and is probably the most important topic in the history of America. For the first time, God’s truth concerning government, church, and separation of church and state was destined to prevail, first in Rhode Island and then in the United States. Prior to this struggle and since the union of church and state in the fourth century, both Catholic and Protestant sacral doctrine which had seen church and state as a single entity working in unison for the same goals had tried unsuccessfully to stamp out all “heretics” who had never deviated from the true biblical doctrine of “separation of church and state.”
Jesus said, “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Jn. 16:2.). In fulfillment of prophecies of the Lord, the established churches thought they were doing God’s will. “And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me” (Jn. 16:3). The Old World patterns of church-state union and religious oppression were transplanted to the New World with all their rigor.[EN39] Eleven of the original thirteen colonies established a church prior to the Revolution. One of those eleven was Massachusetts which was founded by Puritans who were Congregationalists. All New England colonies, except Rhode Island, had established churches based upon the same theology. As noted by the Rhode Island Baptist, John Callender, in the early nineteenth century:
“[The Puritans] were not the only people who thought they were doing God good service when smiting their brethren and fellow-servants. All other Christian sects generally, as if they thought this was the very best way to promote the gospel of peace, and prove themselves the true and genuine disciples of Jesus Christ—‘sic,’ who hath declared, his kingdom was not of this world, who had commanded his disciples to call no man master on earth, who had forbidden them to exercise lordship over each other’s consciences, who had required them to let the tares grow with the wheat till the harvest, and who had, in fine, given mutual love, peace, long-suffering, and kindness, as the badge and mark of his religion.”[EN40]
The fight for religious liberty started in the New England colonies and then spread throughout the other colonies. The seventeenth century ended with firmly established church-states in all New England colonies except Rhode Island. The ecclesiocracies there were as absolute as the world has known, with persecution of “heretics”; but, because of intervention by England, not as brutal as past ecclesiocracies in Europe.
The Church of England was established in the southern colonies. There, “the church enjoyed the favor of the colonial governors but it lacked the one pearl without price which the Congregational Church had. No Anglican ever left England to secure freedom of worship; no Virginia Episcopalian had the fervent motivation of a Massachusetts Puritan. In Massachusetts the church was the state. In Virginia and, to a lesser degree, in the rest of the South the Church was formally part of the State although hardly a part that loomed large in southern minds.”[EN41]
The theology of the established churches in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire led to a combining of church and state with the established church controlling the state; enforcement of all on the Ten Commandments to include the first four; infant baptism; taxing for payment of clergy, church charities, and other church expenses; persecution of dissenters such as Baptists; and many other unscriptural practices.[EN42] Persecution of dissenters followed the example of the theocracy in Israel where, for example, Moses killed the three thousand who turned from the Lord into idolatry and immorality while he was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments (Ex. 32:27), and Elijah had the four hundred and fifty false prophets of Baal killed (1 K. 18:40).
The settlers at Jamestown arrived in the New World in 1607. They set up a civil government modeled after that in England. The king was to head the state church, and those of other religious beliefs were not to be tolerated, much less be granted religious liberty.
The Pilgrims landed at what was to become Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. Although admirable in their quest for religious freedom for themselves, they were at first only grudgingly tolerant of those with other religious sentiments. They were few in number. “Plymouth was a Church-State ruled by a governor and a small and highly select theological aristocracy, a Church-State with various grades of citizenship and non-citizenship.”[EN43] By 1651 the government of Plymouth colony was enforcing the laws of Congregationalist Massachusetts. “By the time Plymouth was united with Massachusetts in 1691 all major differences between the two had disappeared.”[EN44]
The Puritans, unlike the Pilgrims who wanted to separate from the Church of England, wanted to purify the Church from within. “The State, in their view, had the duty to maintain the true Church; but the State was in every way subordinate to the Church.” [EN45] King James I was far more belligerently opposed to the Calvinistic church-state than even Queen Elizabeth had been, and his “determination toward the Puritans was to make them conform or to harry them out of the land.”[EN46] The Puritans who suffered under the combined pressure of accelerated persecution and the advanced moral decay in their society began to flee England for the new world.[EN47] “There was no ground at all left them to hope for any condescension or indulgence to their scruples, but uniformity was pressed with harder measures than ever.”[EN48] Cheating, double-dealing, the betrayal of one’s word were all part of the game for London’s financial district. Mercantile power brokers loved, honored, and worshipped money, and accumulated as much of it as possible and as fast as possible. The ends justified the means. “London was an accurate spiritual barometer for the rest of the country, for England had become a nation without a soul.”[EN49] England was morally awful, and this came about under the auspices of a state-church practicing its theology.[EN50] 1628 marked the beginning of the Great Migration that lasted sixteen years in which twenty thousand Puritans embarked for New England and forty-five thousand other Englishmen headed for Virginia, the West Indies, and points south.[EN51]
The Puritans landed at Salem at the end of June, 1629. They were motivated by religious principles and purposes, seeking a home and a refuge from religious persecution.[EN52] Having suffered long for conscience sake, they came for religious freedom, for themselves only. “They believed [in] the doctrine of John Calvin, with some important modifications, in the church-state ruled on theocratic principles, and in full government regulation of economic life.”[EN53] The Puritan churches “secretly call[ed] their mother a whore, not daring in America to join with their own mother’s children, though unexcommunicate: no, nor permit[ed] them to worship God after their consciences, and as their mother hath taught them this secretly and silently, they have a mind to do, which publicly they would seem to disclaim, and profess against.”[EN54] In 1630, 1500 more persons arrived, several new settlements were formed, and the seat of government was fixed at Boston. Thinking not of toleration of others,” they were prepared to practice over other consciences the like tyranny to that from which they had fled.”[EN55]
Roger Williams, like the Puritans, fled tyranny over thought and conscience and sought refuge for conscience amid the wilds of America. He arrived in Boston on February 5, 1631. He was highly educated and well acquainted with the classics and original languages of the Scriptures, and had been in charge of a parish in England. Although a Congregationalist, he had been exposed to and convinced of some non-congregationalist doctrines such as soul liberty or religious freedom. Immediately upon arrival, Mr. Williams, not being a man who could hide his views and principles, declared that “the magistrate might not punish a breach of the Sabbath, nor any other offence, as it was a breach of the first table.”[EN56] He also, contrary to the practice of the church at Boston, hesitated to hold communion with any church who held communion with the Church of England. “He could not regard the cruelties and severities, and oppression, exercised by the Church of England, with any feelings but those of indignation.”[EN57]
Although loved dearly by the church at Salem where he acted as pastor after he arrived, he remained at odds with the established church and government ministers in Massachusetts. In spite of the fact that “Mr. Williams appears, by the whole course and tenor of his life and conduct …, to have been one of the most disinterested men that ever lived, a most pious and heavenly minded soul,”[EN58] the Court soon summoned him “for teaching publicly ‘against the king’s patent, and our great sin in claiming right thereby to this country’” by taking the land of the natives without payment;[EN59] “and for terming the churches of England antichristian.”[EN60] Charges were brought. “He was accused of maintaining:
“(1) That the magistrate ought not to punish the breach of the first table of the law, otherwise in such cases as did disturb the civil peace.
“(2) That he ought not to tender an oath to an unregenerate man.
“(3) That a man ought not to pray with the unregenerate, though wife or child.
“(4) That a man ought not to give thanks after the sacrament nor after meat.”[EN61]
The ministers of the Court, when Mr. Williams appeared before them, “had already decided ‘that any one was worthy of banishment who should obstinately assert, that the civil magistrate might not intermeddle even to stop a church from apostasy and heresy.’”[EN62] The “grand difficulty they had with Mr. Williams was, his denying the civil magistrate’s right to govern in ecclesiastical affairs.”[EN63]
He was banished from the colony and ordered to board ship for England. Instead, he went, in the dead of winter, to what was to become Rhode Island where he was supported by the Indians whom he, throughout his long life, unceasingly tried to benefit and befriend.[EN64] He bought land from the Indians and founded the town of Providence where persecution has never “sullied its annals.”[EN65] “[T]he harsh treatment and cruel exile of Mr. Williams seem designed by his brethren for the same evil end [as that of the brethren of Joseph when they sold him into slavery], but was, by the goodness of the same overruling hand [of divine providence] turned to the most beneficent purposes.”[EN66]
Another leader instrumental in the formation of the government of the Rhode Island colony was Dr. John Clarke, a physician. Dr. John Clarke of England moved to Boston in November of 1637. He proposed to some friends “for peace sake, and to enjoy the freedom of their consciences, to remove out of that jurisdiction.”[EN67] Their motion was granted & Dr. Clarke and eighteen families went to New Hampshire which proved too cold for their liking. They left and stopped in Rhode Island, intending to go to Long Island or Delaware Bay. There Dr. Clarke met Roger Williams. The two “immediately became fast friends and associates, working together in a most harmonious manner, both socially and politically, throughout the remainder of Clarke’s life.”[EN68] With the help of Mr. Williams they settled in that colony at Aquidneck. “The first settlement on the Island was called Pocasset; after the founding of Newport, it was renamed Portsmouth.”[EN69]
The first government in history that was to have complete freedom of conscience and religious liberty also declared that the government was to be under the Lord Jesus Christ. Signed on March 7, 1638, the Portsmouth Compact read:
“We whose names are underwritten do here solemnly, in the presence of Jehovah, incorporate ourselves into a bodie politick, and as he shall help, will submit our persons, lives and estates, unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and to all those perfect andmost absolute lawes of his, given us in his holy word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby.” [19 signatures followed: … Three passages were marked in support of the compact: Exodus 24.3, 4; II Chronicles 11.3; and II Kings 11.17.[EN70]
This compact placed Portsmouth, Rhode Island under the one true God, the Lord Jesus Christ and His principles and laws given in the Bible. That Dr. Clarke “sought to help establish a government free of all religious restriction, one which in no way infringed upon the freedom of any religious conscience” is “evident from his remarks to the leaders of the established colonies upon his first arrival in Boston and by his subsequent activities throughout New England.”[EN71]
In August of 1638, the people of Providence approved the first public document establishing government without interference in religious matters, the Providence Compact:
“We whose names are here underwritten being desirous to inhabit in the town of Providence, do promise to submit ourselves in active or passive obedience to all such orders or agreement as shall be made for public good to the body in an orderly way, by the major consent of the present inhabitants, masters of families, incorporated together into a township, and such others whom they shall admit into the same, only in civil things.”[EN72] [Twelve signatures followed.]
As James R. Beller proclaims, the document was “the first of a series of American political documents promulgating government by the consent of the governed and liberty of conscience.”[EN73] Thus, liberty of conscience was the basis for legislation in Rhode Island, and its annals have remained to this day [when Underhill wrote this] unsullied by the blot of persecution.[EN74]
Rhode Island was ruled according to the original covenant, “til on January 2, 1639, an assembly of the freemen said:
“By the consent of the body it is agreed that such who shall be chosen to the place of Eldership, they are to assist the Judge in the execution of the justice and judgment, for the regulating and ordering of all offences and offenders, and for the drawing up and determining of all such rules and laws as shall be according to God, which may conduce to the good and welfare of the commonweal; and to them is committed by the body the whole care and charge of all the affairs thereof; and that the Judge together with the Elders, shall rule and govern according to the general rules [rule] of the word of God, when they have no particular rule from God’s word, by the body prescribed as a direction unto them in the case. And further, it is agreed and consented unto, that the Judge and [with the] Elders shall be accountable unto the body once every quarter of the year, (when as the body shall be assembled) of all such cases, actions or [and] rules which have passed through their hands, by they to be scanned and weighed by the word of Christ; and if by the body or any of them, the Lord shall be pleased to dispense light to the contrary of what by the Judge or [and] Elders hath been determined formerly, that then and there it shall be repealed as the act of the body; and if it be otherwise, that then it shall stand, (till further light concerning it) for the present, to be according to God, and the tender care of indulging [indulgent] fathers.”[EN75]
Thus, Rhode Island became a government of religious liberty. “As a servant of the people, Dr. Clarke [along with Roger Williams] would steer the colony toward a government of unprecedented civil and religious liberty—convinced that any other move would be in the direction of a self-centered autocratic theocracy.” [EN76] Under his leadership, the people followed him as he steered a course between democracy with its “attending threat of anarchy and all of its evils of disorder, violence, and ultimate chaos,” and aristocracy and its restrictions on all forms of liberty.[EN77]
In 1651, Dr. Clarke, Obadiah Holmes,[EN7] and John Crandall went to visit a friend in Boston. They were on “an errand of mercy and had traveled all the way from their church in Newport to visit one of their aging and blind members, William Witter.”[EN79] They stayed over, and held a service on Sunday. During that service, they were arrested and jailed. A friend paid Dr. Clarke’s fine and Clarke and Mr. Crandal were released.
Mr. Holmes was beaten mercilessly. His infractions were denying infant baptism, proclaiming that the church was not according to the gospel of Jesus Christ, receiving the sacrament while excommunicated by the church, and other spiritual infractions.[EN80] Mr. Holmes refused to pay his fine, prepared for the whipping by “communicat[ing] with [his] God, commit[ting] himself to him, and beg[ging] strength from him.”[EN81] Holmes was confined over two months before his whipping. He related the experience of being whipped for the Lord as follows, in part:
“And as the man began to lay the strokes upon my back, I said to the people, though my flesh should fail, and my spirit should fail, yet my God would not fail. So it please the Lord to come in, and so to fill my heart and tongue as a vessel full, and with an audible voice I broke forth praying unto the Lord not to lay this sin to their charge; and telling the people, that now I found he did not fail me, and therefore now I should trust him forever who failed me not; for in truth, as the strokes fell upon me, I had such a spiritual manifestation of God’s presence as the like thereof I never had nor felt, nor can with fleshly tongue express; and the outward pain was so removed from me, that indeed I am not able to declare it to you, it was so easy to me, that I could well bear it, yea, and in a manner felt it not although it was grievous as the spectators said, the man striking with all his strength (yea spitting in [on] his hand three times as many affirmed) with a three-corded whip, giving me therewith thirty strokes. When he had loosed me from the post, having joyfulness in my heart, and cheerfulness in my countenance, as the spectators observed, I told the magistrates, You have struck me as with roses; and said moreover, Although the Lord hath made it easy to me, yet I pray God it may not be laid to your charge.”[EN82]
Mr. Holmes “could take no rest but as he lay upon his knees and elbows, not being able to suffer any part of his body to touch the bed whereupon he lay.”[EN83]
In November 1651, Dr. Clarke went to England with Roger Williams to promote the interests of Rhode Island. Mr. Williams returned to Rhode Island in the summer of 1754, but Mr. Clarke remained in England until, on July 8, 1663, he secured a new charter from Charles II. The charter granted:
“unprecedented liberties in religious concerns. Moreover representation for the people and the limit of power to public officials provided a basic check and balance to popular sovereignty. The Royal Charter of 1663 proved to be distinctive, installing safeguards in the election process through the governing body of the State Assembly, made up of a governor, deputy-governor, assistants, and representatives from each of the towns,”[EN84] each elected by the people.
“Congregationalism claimed a large class of inferior church members by 1720, baptized into the churches without conversion.”[EN85] Generally speaking, by 1740, religious decay had spread throughout New England. However, “the relentless preaching of Jonathan Edwards of complete surrender to the will of God introduced the novel phenomenon of revival in Massachusetts.”[EN86] Although the revival spread down the Connecticut Valley into Connecticut[EN87], the initial revival was of short duration … and did not touch the people of New England generally.[EN88] Then, George Whitefield, the world-famous English evangelist arrived at Newport. Great crowds greeted Whitefield wherever he went to preach. In Connecticut, he was greeted with great enthusiasm. All Connecticut was at his feet.
As a result of that great revival, many were converted and churches experienced unprecedented growth. The Great Awakening emphasized individual conversion and the new birth.[EN89] Many itinerant preachers arose as a result of this revival. Consequently, the General Court of Connecticut “forbade all itinerant preaching under penalty of loss of the right to collect one’s legal salary and imprisonment. Itinerant lay preachers or strange ministers were to be silenced or expelled from the colony.”[EN90] “In Connecticut, legal action was taken against the revivalists, their churches were deprived of legal status, and some of the preachers were thrown into jail.”[EN91]
A number converts, who were dubbed as “New Lights” and who initially tried to influence the church to return to the concept of the pure church were forced out of the established churches. The term “Separates” referred to those who believed that the church should only include regenerate members and those who separated from the state-churches on this conviction. The Separate movement started in Connecticut and moved to Massachusetts. Separate churches began to appear at various towns.
One of the most prominent of the Separates was Isaac Backus. Although he spent much of his ministry in Massachusetts, he was a native of Norwich, Connecticut. He was saved in 1741 and became the leading figure in the new movement. His shift from the Separate to the Baptist camp is central to the religious history of New England.[EN92] Mr. Backus was an ardent leader and writer for the cause of religious liberty in New England and in America. His efforts for religious liberty and other causes were non-ceasing.
Shubael Stearns and Daniel Marshall, both members of Congregationalist churches in Connecticut, separated from the established churches, later became Baptists, as had Isaac Backus, and became chief instruments in carrying the Great Awakening to the South. The Separates were subject to persecution—fines, imprisonment, placing in stocks, and whipping—for their defiance of the laws of the commonwealth. They were subjected to a more intense persecution than the dissenters such as Baptists and Quakers, and many of them were imprisoned for practicing their beliefs.
George Whitefield’s preaching had a grand effect on his converts. Stearns in 1754 and Marshall in 1751 or 1752, possessed with missionary zeal, left Connecticut as missionaries. Marshall first ministered to the Indians in New York. Then he moved to Connogig, Pennsylvania and then to Opekon, Virginia. Stearns at first went to Cacapon Creek, Virginia, but due to Indian hostility there, moved to Sandy Creek, North Carolina. There the settlers constituted the Sandy Creek Church with Mr. Stearns as minister and Daniel Marshall and Joseph Breed as assistant ministers.
The work at Sandy Creek soon began to produce much fruit. Mr. Stearns and the other preachers in his church were in great demand to go preach at other settlements. He and Daniel Marshall decided, before having been at Sandy Creek a year, to go on a preaching mission all the way to the coast. Converts were being called into ministry, and the Separate Baptist movement was seeing the birth of new churches. Within three years, there were three churches with a combined membership of over nine hundred, and these churches had numerous branches. Young evangelists were “beginning to occupy the land of promise.” In 1758, the Sandy Creek Association was organized. The plan for the association “required careful planning, for the associational movement would usher in a grand new chapter in Separate Baptist expansion.”[EN93]
The movement exploded. Ministers and converts went all over North Carolina, then into South Carolina and Georgia. The power of God was with these Separate Baptist preachers. Churches were planted and many were converted. In North Carolina, the Anglicans and the Presbyterians were displaced by the Baptists. Daniel Marshall went to South Carolina with some others in his church and started a church there. From there, he went on preaching trips into Georgia. He was so successful in some of his forays there that he was arrested, convicted, and commanded to preach no more in Georgia. “The arresting constable and even the magistrate who tried Marshall were soon converted and baptized.” In 1771 Mr. Marshall moved to Kiokee Creek, Georgia and formed the first Baptist church in Georgia at Appling in 1772.[EN94]
In 1771 the so-called War of the Regulation broke out. The government of North Carolina tried to suppress the Separate Baptists, but succeeded only in spreading their movement all along the southern frontier. Before the suppression began, the established church, the Anglican Church, was ineffectual in North Carolina and only had five ministers in the state in 1765.
Before 1765 the western counties, made up of frontiersman, a large percentage of whom had become Baptists, were disproportionately taxed and represented in the Assembly. “Sheriffs, judges, and other officials of county government, were notorious for their injustice, and in the western counties they were, as a rule, dishonest, haughty, and overbearing.”[EN95] A license was required for teachers, and no place of higher education could be administered, except by ministers of the Church of England. The Church of England was given exclusive rights to perform marriages. In 1755, poll and vestry taxes were imposed upon North Carolinians.[EN96] The settlers mounted protests against these injustices.
When William Tryon became governor of North Carolina in 1765, the troubles moved quickly to a crisis. Governor Tryon set out to strengthen the position of the Church of England. He called for twenty-seven more Anglican clergymen, increased taxes, and raised a military force. By 1770, Governor Tryon had established eighteen Anglican priests in thirty-two parishes in North Carolina. Property was seized for back taxes, people accused of rioting were arrested and set for trial, and others were fined and imprisoned. “In several places the Regulators yielded to mob spirit, broke up courts, and whipped the officers” and “some court records were destroyed.”[EN97] Armed conflict finally broke out. On May 16, 1771, a poorly trained and supplied force of two thousand regulators was routed by the state militiamen. Although Shubael Stearns and the Sandy Creek Association forbade Baptists to take up arms against the government, many did.
After the defeat of the regulators, Tryon “laid waste to plantations, burned homes, and sent numbers of men in chains to Hillsboro. The countryside was terrorized.”[EN98] Tryon seized Benjamin Merrill, who appears to have been a church leader. Merrill was convicted as a traitor, hung publicly, cut into pieces—quartered—and his body scattered.[EN99]
The Baptists had a mass exodus from North Carolina. By 1772, Sandy Creek Church had only fourteen members, down from six hundred and six. Little River Church went from five hundred to a dozen members. But as with the persecution of the first Christians in Jerusalem, the persecuted spread to other parts and carried out the Great Commission—the departing Baptists went into South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, spreading the Gospel and reaping the harvest. What Satan meant for evil, God used for His glory.
Shubal Stearns, the chief light and the guiding genius behind the Separate Baptist movement, died on November 20, 1771 at the age of sixty-five. Forty-two churches and one hundred and twenty-five ministers had sprung from the Sandy Creek Church by 1772. Fires had been started in North Carolina and in other states, which could not be quenched.[EN100]
Although the final expression of religious freedom that would be incorporated into the Constitution came from Virginia, the final motivation came as a result of the convictions of the dissenters, mainly the Baptists, and the thrust for their growth and influence came from the Great Awakening.
In Virginia, the established Anglican church was controlled by the state, unlike in New England where the established church controlled the state. From the beginning of the colony, the “company knew not how to control the members composing the colony but by religion and law.”[EN101] The original “Lawes Divine, Moral and Martial” which were decreed in 1612, were severe. Speaking impiously of the Trinity or of God the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, blaspheming God, incorrigibly cursing, a third failure to attend religious services, and a third “Sabbath-breaking,” were punishable by death. Other spiritual offenses were punished by whipping and other penalties.[EN102]
These laws were repealed upon appeal to England, and the laws enacted in support of the Anglican establishment were less severe. Still, the Anglican church was established (and this establishment continued until the revolution with one short interruption), nonattendance at church services was the subject of fines, the payment of tithes were mandatory, every parson was entitled to the glebe—a piece of land—parish churches were built by taxes, and ministers were required to “conform themselves in all things according to the canons of the Church of England.”
“Puritan clergy were banished for failing to conform to Anglican services; Quakers [and Baptists] were fined, imprisoned, and banished. Catholics were disqualified for public office, and any priest who ventured to enter the colony was subject to instant expulsion. Penalties were imposed on those who having scruples against infant baptism, neglected to present their children for that purpose.”[EN103]
In 1770, there were only six Separate Baptist churches in Virginia, but the number had increased to fifteen in 1771. The number of Separate Baptists increased dramatically through 1774.
From 1768 through 1774, the Baptists were persecuted severely. “Baptist preachers were whipped, arrested, fined, imprisoned on bread and water, although the authorities sanctimoniously denied that punishment was for ‘preaching’; the crime they said, was ‘breach of the peace.’”[EN104] The first instance of actual imprisonment was on June 4, 1768 when John Waller, Lewis Craig, James Childs, James Reed, and William Marsh were arrested at Craig’s meetinghouse in Spotsylvania and charged with disturbing the peace. The magistrates offered to release them if they would promise to preach no more for a year and a day. They refused and were jailed. Many more were jailed and otherwise persecuted until 1774.[EN105]
As a result of the persecutions and oppressions, Baptists began to petition the House of Burgesses for relief in 1770. 1775 closed the period of “Intolerance, Toleration, and Persecution.” This came about because the American Revolution was on. The Baptists and others were tolerated in return for their help in the war against Great Britain. The Baptists did help, and not a Tory was found among them. But they struck for something more and something dearer to them than civil liberty—for freedom of conscience, for “just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty.”[EN106] The battle for soul liberty continued until January 19, 1786, when Thomas Jefferson’s “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom” became the law of the state.
During the period of intense persecution in Virginia, leaders such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were observing what was going on. These men were also familiar with the history of persecutions which always accompany a church-state union. They stood against union of church and state which was proposed by Patrick Henry in 1784. Here is one of several examples from Madison’s writings (from a letter to an old college friend, dated January 24, 1774):
“uninterrupted harmony had prevailed throughout the continent [in matters of established religion as practiced in Virginia] it is clear to me that slavery and subjection might and would have been gradually insinuated among us. Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising confidence, and ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitates the execution of mischievous projects…. Poverty and luxury prevail among all sorts; pride, ignorance, and knavery among the priesthood, and vice and wickedness among the laity. This is bad enough; but it is not the worst I have to tell you. That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some, and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such purposes. There are at this time in the adjacent country not less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which in the main are very orthodox. I have neither patience to hear, talk, or think of anything relative to this matter; for I have squabbled and scolded, abused and ridiculed, so long about it to little purpose, that I am without common patience…. So I must beg you to pity me, and pray for liberty of conscience to all.”[EN107]
On June 12, 1776, the House adopted a Declaration of Rights. The 16th Article provided for religious tolerance. However, [o]n motion on the floor by James Madison, the article was amended to provide for religious liberty. In committee, Madison opposed toleration because toleration “belonged to a system where there was an established church, and where it was a thing granted, not of right, but of grace. He feared the power, in the hands of a dominant religion, to construe what ‘may disturb the peace, the happiness, or the safety of society,’ and he ventured to propose a substitute, which was finally adopted.”[EN108] He probably moved to change the amendment before the whole house in order to demonstrate his position to the Baptists who were viewing the proceedings. The proposed amendment read:
“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”[EN109]
“The adoption of the Bill of Rights marked the beginning of the end of the establishment.”[EN110]
Where did Madison learn the distinction between religious freedom and religious toleration?
“It had not then begun to be recognized in treatises on religion and morals. He did not learn it from Jeremy Taylor or John Locke, but from his Baptist neighbors, whose wrongs he had witnessed, and who persistently taught that the civil magistrate had nothing to do with matters of religion.”[EN111]
In 1784, Patrick Henry proposed a bill establishing provision for teachers of the Christian religion. George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, and John Marshall supported the bill. The bill required all persons “to pay a moderate tax or contribution annually for the support of the Christian religion, or of some Christian church, denomination or communion of Christians, or for some form of Christian worship.”[EN112]
Mr. Madison opposed Mr. Henry’s bill and prepared his famous “Memorial and Remonstrance,” in which he maintained “that religion, or the duty we owe the Creator,” was not within the cognizance of civil government. The “Memorial” presents fifteen arguments against the assessment bill.[EN113] A small sampling is offered here:
“… Because experience witnesses that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution. Inquire of the teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest luster; those of every sect point to the ages prior to its incorporation with civil policy. Propose a restoration of this primitive state, in which its teachers depended on the voluntary rewards of their flocks, many of them predict its downfall….
“Because the establishment in question is not necessary for the support of civil government…. If religion be not within the cognizance of civil government, how can its legal establishment be said to be necessary for civil government? What influences, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In some instances, they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; in more instances, have they been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the publick liberty, may have found on established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government instituted to secure and perpetuate it needs them not. Such a government will be best supported by protecting every citizen in the enjoyment of his religion, with the same equal hand which protects his person and property; by neither invading the equal hand which protects his person and property; by neither invading the equal rights of any sect, nor suffering any sect to invade those of another.…
“Because the policy of the bill is adverse to the light of Christianity. The first wish of those, who ought to enjoy this precious gift, ought to be, that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those, who have as yet received it, with the number still remaining under the dominion of false religions, and how small is the former? Does the policy of the bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of truth, from coming into the regions of it; and countenances, by example, the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting out those who might convey it to them….
“Because, finally, ‘the equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his religion according to the dictates of his conscience,’ is held by the same tenure with all our other rights…. Either then we must say, that the will of the Legislature is the only measure of their authority; and that in the plentitude of this authority, they may sweep away all our fundamental rights; or, that they are bound to leave this particular right untouched and sacred: either we must say, that they may control the freedom of the press; may abolish the trial by jury; may swallow up the executive and judiciary powers of the State; nay, that they have no authority our very right of suffrage, and erect themselves into an independent and hereditary assembly; or we must say that they have no authority to enact into a law, the bill under consideration.…”[EN114]
On January 16, 1786, the Virginia Act for Religious Liberty, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was passed. That bill provided for religious liberty and freedom of conscience. It stated, in part:
“I. Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord of both body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do;
“that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such, endeavoring to impose them on others hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;
“that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, … that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than [on] our opinions in physics or geometry;
“that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; …
“that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with, or differ from his own;
“that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt [open, or public] acts against peace and good order; ….”[EN115]
As the Anglican establishment in Virginia yielded to pressure from Baptists [and to a much lesser extent Presbyterians] so that religious liberty was established in that state, “[t]he same pressure, reinforced by the conditions of frontier living, ended the Anglican establishment in the Carolinas and Georgia…. [T]he conditions which made establishment possible never existed in the states admitted after Vermont, nor in the territories with the exception of unique Utah.”[EN116]
By the time the Constitutional Convention convened in 1787, “three states, Rhode Island, New York, and Virginia granted full religious freedom. Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland demanded in different degrees adherence to Christianity. New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia demanded Protestantism.”[EN117]
A convention was called in Philadelphia in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation. Instead, a new Constitution was drafted. After the drafting of the Constitution, it was submitted to the states for ratification. The Baptists of Virginia were against ratification because the Constitution did not have sufficient provision for religious liberty. Patrick Henry had declined to serve at the Convention and was against it. He posed as the champion of the Baptists in opposition to the Constitution. Of course, Madison was for ratification. However, John Leland, the most popular preacher in Virginia, was chosen by the Baptists as candidate of Orange County to the state ratification convention opposed to ratification, and his opponent was to be James Madison. Mr. Leland likely would have been elected had he not later withdrawn. Mr. Madison, when he returned from Philadelphia, stopped by Mr. Leland’s house and spent half a day communicating to him about “the great matters which were then agitating the people of the state and the Confederacy” and relieving Baptist apprehensions as to the question of religious liberty. As a result of this meeting, Mr. Leland withdrew in favor of Mr. Madison and the Baptists of Orange County were won over to the side of Madison.[EN118]
The Constitution was ratified and election of the officers of government was the next order of business. Patrick Henry, using his influence in the Legislature, prevented Madison from being elected as Senator. In addition, the Legislature drew the lines for Representative district so as to prevent Madison from being elected as Representative. However, he was able to “relieve Baptist apprehensions as to any change in his principles, and assure them of his readiness to aid in securing a proper amendment to the Constitution on the subject of religious liberty.” He was elected.
His first act, after the First Congress was organized in 1789, was to propose, on June 8, certain amendments, including what is now the First Amendment. His purpose was to “conciliate and to make all reasonable concessions to the doubting and distrustful”—to those, the Baptists, who were concerned about the issue of religious liberty. “Of all the denominations in Virginia, [the Baptists] were the only ones that had expressed any dissatisfaction with the Constitution on that point, or that had taken any action into looking to an amendment.” The Baptists of Virginia had also corresponded with Baptists of other states to “secure cooperation in the matter of obtaining” a religious liberty amendment. No other denomination asked for this change.[EN119]
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on September 25, 1789 and was approved by the required number of states in 1791.
V. Post disestablishment and conclusion
The First Amendment religion clause was not applied to the states until 1940.[EN120] When the First Amendment was added to the United States Constitution, only New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut still had established churches. In 1833 Massachusetts became the last state to disestablish.
Nonetheless, the states still provided for incorporation of churches. However, after disestablishment, incorporation became something entirely different from the corporate state-church unions of the past. The new type of incorporation did not create an established church that worked with the state to enforce the first four Commandments. Actually, under the new type of incorporation, the corporate church became a creature of the state.
For a full explanation of the ways post-disestablishment incorporation of churches violates biblical principles, one must go to other sources.[EN121] Just a few characteristics of the new type of corporate church status are listed here. Incorporation became a means for the state to control churches in many ways. For example, a corporation is legal entity created, designed, and organized by statute. The sovereign of the corporate part of an incorporated church is the state. An incorporated 501(c)(3) church gets part of her powers from God and part from the civil government. She is under two heads. Part of the church must have elected officers who conduct business meetings, meet statutory requirements, etc. The incorporated part of an incorporated church is not the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ, but rather an extramarital illicit relationship existing alongside the marriage.
In spite of the fact that American churches may now incorporate and obtain Internal Revenue Code §501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”)[EN122] status, they may also operate as New Testament churches outside civil government authority, without persecution and with less exposure to liability than the state incorporated, 501(c)(3) church. Because of the efforts of “Christian” lawyers and the ignorance of pastors and Christians, this truth has been much compromised; most churches and Christians have been convinced that they should incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status; and, as a result, churches which choose to remain totally outside civil government authority face some inconveniences which hardly amount to persecution. The main technique of the unscrupulous lawyers who seek to convince churches to incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status is fear mongering through lies. Biblically ignorant Christians are easy prey for these wolves in sheep’s clothing.
In conclusion, because of the First Amendment, and because of state constitutional provisions and laws, a church has a choice in America. She can operate, without persecution but with some inconveniences, either in a manner pleasing to her Lord, Bridegroom, Husband, and Head or in a manner which dishonors and displeases Him. The church who does not love the Lord will choose to dishonor Him, thereby causing Him much grief. Most American churches have chosen to dishonor our Lord, and the chickens are now coming home to roost.
 “Heresy,” in its modern sense, means “any opinion which is repugnant to the doctrines of Scriptures. However, as men differ in the interpretation of Scripture, an opinion deemed heretical by one body of Christians, may be deemed orthodox by another.” See AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “heresy.” Of course, Scripture contains truth and all at variance with truth constitute lies.
One needs to consider the original sense of the meaning of “heresy” and “heretic.” Established churches have killed millions of those whom they labeled “heretics.” They did this because they denied choice to those who disagreed with the state religion. Thus, harlot religious organizations have perverted Scripture in order to force unity. State religions, heretics themselves according to the modern sense, falsely labeled even true believers “heretics.” “The word “heresy” is derived from the Greek very hairein, which translates: “make-choice-between-alternatives” or “to exercise choice in the presence of alternatives.” See Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964), p. 72 and Leorard Verduin, The First Amendment and the Remnant (Sarasota, Florida: The Christian Hymnary Publishers, 1998), pp. xiii-xiv, 20.
The Word of God teaches that God gives everyone freedom of choice to choose truth or error, regardless of civil government laws which require imprisonment, persecution, and death for “heretics” or for those whose beliefs are deemed dangerous by the civil government or by an established church or religion.
 Pfeffer, p. 63. Bill Bradley, Purified Seven Times (Haines City, FL: Landmark Baptist Press, 2001), pp. 88-92. For more information on the John Bunyan story, see Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (New York: Bryan, Taylor, & Co.; Chicago: Morningside Publishing Co., 1887), pp. 474-539.
 Armitage, Volume 1, p. 477.
 Ibid., Volume 2, p. 538.
 J. A. Shackelford, Compendium of Baptist History (Louisville, Kentucky: Press Baptist book Concern, 1892), p. 17.
 Leonard Verduin, The First Amendment and the Remnant (Sarasota, Florida: The Christian Hymnary Publishers, 1998), p. 50.
 Ibid., p. 64.
 Ibid., p. 85.
 Ibid., p. 87.
 J. M. Carroll, The Trail of Blood, (Distributed by Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, 163 N. Ashland Avenue, Lexington KY 40502, 606-266-4341), p. 11. See also, Thieleman J. van Braught, Martyr’s Mirror (Scottdale, PA and Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press), pp. 67-78 (This book is the best and most comprehensive book on persecution of Christians through the seventeenth century.); John Foxe and The Voice of the Martyrs, Foxe, Voices of the Martyrs (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2007), pp. 1-46.
 Thieleman, pp. 63-186; Carroll; Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), pp. 10-12.
 Carroll, p. 16; Thieleman; David Benedict, History of the Donatists (Pawtucket R.I.: Nickerson, Sibley & Co., 1875; Paris, Arkansas: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc.,); Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964; Reprinted by permission by Paris AK.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc.); Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976).
 Carroll, p. 17.
 Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 14, citing Bates, M. Searle, Religious Liberty: An Inquiry, New Your and London, International Missionary Council, 1945, p. 139; Rufinni, Francesco, Religious Liberty, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1949, p. 36; and Carlyle, Alexander J., The Christian Church and Liberty, London, J. Clarke, 1924, p. 96; See also, Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), pp. 105-111 and other excerpts.
 Armitage, Volume 1, p. 202.
 Ibid., p. 204.
 Benedict, p. 99.
 Ibid., p. 87.
 Pfeffer, p. 18; Verduin, Anatomy of a Hybrid.
 Carroll, p. 14.
 Ibid., p. 28.
 Ibid., p. 33.
 Works of Martin Luther, Volume 4 (Philadelphia: A. H. Holman Co., 1931), p. 265 cited in Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 22.
 Pfeffer, p. 21, citing Acton, “The Protestant Theory of Persecution,” in Essays on Freedom and Power, p. 92, and Wace, Henry, and Bucheim, C. A., Luther’s Primary Works, Lutheran Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1885, pp. 194-195, quoted in Noss, John B., Man’s Religions, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1949, p. 92.
 William H. Marnell, The First Amendment: Religious Freedom in America from Colonial Days to the School Prayer Controversy (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), pp. 13-14.
 Acton, pp. 102-103, quoted in Pfeffer, p. 21; see also, Verduin, Anatomy of a Hybrid, pp. 158-160, 163-168, 186-198; Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdsmans Pub. Co., 1964) and Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (Springfield, Mo.: Baptist Bible College, 1977 Reprint).
 Pfeffer, pp. 23-24.
 See Ibid., pp. 24-25 for a concise history of Erastianism in England.
 Marnell, pp. 18-20; Armitage; Verduin (both cited books).
 Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1:847 (IV.xix.15) 2: 1486 (IV.xx.1), trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960) cited in Hamburger, pp. 22-23, “[Calvin] also wrote: ‘But whosoever knows how to distinguish between body and soul, between the present fleeting life and that future eternal life, will without difficulty know that Christ’s spiritual Kingdom of Christ and the civil government are things completely distinct.’” Ibid., 2: 1488 (IV.xx.1).
 Pfeffer, p. 22, citing Institutes of the Christian Religion¸ quoted in Stokes, Anson Phelps, Church and State in the United States, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1950, I. p. 110.
 Pfeffer, p. 22.
 Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 23, citing Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2: 1211 (IV.xi.1; ibid., 2: 1487-1488 (IV.xx.2-3).
 Pfeffer, pp. 23-24.
 Carroll, p. 34.
 Ibid., pp. 37-38.
 Jerald Finney, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Company, 2008 and Xulon Press, 2008), Section IV. Go to the “Books” page of churchandstatelaw.com for ordering information.
 Pfeffer, p. 63.
 John Callender, The Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island (Providence: Knowles, Vose & Company, 1838), p. 71.
 Marnell, pp. 63-64.
 Lumpkin, William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations in the South (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006), p. 1; Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop (Boston, Mass., Toronto, Canada: Little, Brown and Company, 1958).
 Ibid., p. 48.
 Pfeffer, p. 66, citing Sanford H. Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America (New York: The McMillan Co., 1902), pp. 70-71.
 Marnell, p. 40.
 Ibid., p. 42.
 Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977), p. 146.
 Callender, p. 66.
 Marshall and Manuel, p. 148.
 Ibid., pp. 147-148.
 Ibid., p. 148.
 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), p. v (The Bloudy Tenent was originally published in 1644. Roger Williams was the founder of Rhode Island, the first government in history with complete freedom of conscience. Due to the efforts of Mr. Williams, Dr. John Clarke, and others who followed America has the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which gives freedom of conscience. A brief history of the efforts of Roger Williams and others is recounted in Section IV of God Betrayed.).
 Marnell, p. 48.
 Williams and Underhill, p. 244.
 Ibid., p. vii.
 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. 41; Williams and Underhill, p. ix, noting in fn. 1 that “Such is Governor Winthrop’s testimony. Knowles, p. 46.”
 Williams and Underhill, p. x.
 Callender, p. 72.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, pp. 44-46. Williams and Underhill, p. xiii. (The colonies held their land under the royal patent. Under the royal right of patent, Christian kings (so called) were given the right to take and give away the lands and countries of other men); Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 2 pp. 638-639.
 Williams and Underhill, pp. xiii-xiv.
 Ibid, p. xiv; Callender, p. 72; Backus, A History of New England…, Volume I, p. 53 (Backus adds item 2, as, according to footnote 1, p. 53, his is from Governor Winthrop’s Journal, Vol. 1, pp. [162, 163]).
 Williams and Underhill, pp. xv, 387-389.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, p. 53; Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 2, pp. 627-640.
 Williams and Underhill., p. xxiii.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, p. 59.
 Ibid., p. 71. See also, John Clarke, Ill News from New-England or A Narative of New-Englands Persecution (Paris, Ark.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., Reprint: 1st printed in 1652), pp. 22-25.
 Louis Franklin Asher, John Clarke (1609-1676): Pioneer in American Medicine, Democratic Ideals, and Champion of Religious Liberty (Paris, Arkansas: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc.), p. 27; Clarke.
 Asher, p. 29; Clarke.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, pp. 77, 427. On p. 427 is the exact copy from Rhode Island records. In the margin are citations to Exodus 34.3, 4; II Chronicles 11.3, and II Kings 11, 17.
 Asher, p. 27.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, p. 74; cited in James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), p. 13; Armitage, A History of the Baptists, Volume 2, p. 643.
 Beller, America in Crimson Red, p. 13.
 Williams and Underhill, p. xxviii.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, pp. 427-428.
 Asher, p. 35.
 Ibid., pp. 35-36.
 Obadiah Holmes moved from England to Massachusetts. He and several others decided the Baptist way was right and were baptized. He and others were excommunicated in 1650. They moved to Rhode Island where Mr. Holmes became a member of the church pastored by Dr. John Clarke.
 Asher, p. 57; See Clarke, pp. 27-65 for a full account of the event.
 Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1,, fn. 1, p. 189.
 Ibid., p. 190.
 Ibid., p. 192; Clarke, pp. 50-51.
 Ibid., fn. 1, p. 193. (This from a manuscript of Governor Joseph Jencks).
 Asher, pp. 78-79.
 Lumpkin, p. 2.
 Asher, p. 21: Between 1635 and 1640 Congregationalism had been planted in the Connecticut colony. Callender, pp. 67-68: “As the country was more fully discovered, the lands on Connecticut river grew so famous for their fruitfulness, and convenience to keep cattle, that great numbers from New-Town, Dorchester, &c., removed there, under the conduct of Mr. Hains, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Ludlow, and Mr. Hooker, &c., and through inexpressible hardships, through famine, and weariness, and perils of the enemy, they at length settled at Hartford, 1635 and 1636, which was the beginning of the Connecticut colony; and, in 1637, New-Haven colony was begun by a people directly from England[.]”
 Lumpkin, p. 2.
 Ibid., pp. 3-5.
 Ibid., p. 8; see also, for the actual wording of the act against itinerant and other preachers, Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 2, pp. 44-46.
 Marnell, p. 87.
 William G. McLoughlin, Isaac Backus and the American Piestic Tradition (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1967), pp. 60-61.
 Lumpkin, pp. 41-45.
 Ibid., p. 55, citing J. H. Kilpatrick, The Baptists, (Atlanta: Georgia Baptist Convention, 1911), pp. 37-38.
 Ibid., pp. 72-74.
 Beller, America in Crimson Red, pp. 181-182.
 Lumpkin, pp. 78-79.
 Ibid., p. 83.
 Beller, America in Crimson Red, p. 197.
 Lumpkin, p. 59.
 Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), p., p. 17.
 See Pfeffer, p. 69 for the text of this law.
 Ibid.; see also, James, pp. 17-20 for a more comprehensive overview of the laws of Virginia which provided for religious persecution and the established church.
 Pfeffer, p. 95. citing Edward F. Humphrey, Nationalism and Religion in America (Boston: Chipman Law Publishing Co., 1924), p. 370.
 James, pp. 29-30. Included is a listing of some of those jailed and otherwise persecuted. See also, Beller, America in Crimson Red, pp. 230-250; Lumpkin, pp. 105-120; Grady, What Hath God Wrought, Appendix A, pp. 593-598 citing Lewis Peyton Little, Imprisoned Preachers and Religious Liberty in Virginia, (Galatin, Tenn.: Church History Research and Archives, 1987), pp. 516-520 (lists many Baptists and the persecutions they endured in Virginia; persecutions such as being jailed for preaching, civil suit, being annoyed by men drinking and playing cards, being jerked off stage and head beaten against the ground, hands being slashed, beaten with bludgeons, being shot with a shotgun, ousted as a justice for preaching, being brutally beaten by a mob, severely beaten with a stick, etc.).
 James, pp. 47-48.
 Ibid., p. 36.
 Ibid., pp. 62-65.
 Ibid., pp. 62-64; Pfeffer, p. 96.
 Pfeffer, p. 96.
 James, p. 63 quoting Dr. John Long.
 Pfeffer, p. 98, citing N. J. Eckenrode, The Separation of Church and State in Virginia (Richmond, Va.: Virginia State Library, 1910), p. 86. Pfeffer notes in Chapter 4 fn. 102 that the text of the bill is printed as an appendix to Justice Rutledge’s dissent in Everson, 330 U.S. 1.
 Pfeffer, p. 101.
 Beller, America in Crimson Red, pp. 512-515; Norman Cousins, In God We Trust (Kingsport, Tennessee: Kingsport Press, Inc., 1958), pp. 308-314.
 Cousins, pp. 125-127; see also, for an edited version, Living American Documents, Selected and edited by Isidore Starr, Lewis Paul Todd, and Merle Curti, (New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Burlingame: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1961), pp. 67-69.
 Marnell, p. 130.
 Ibid., p. 98.
 James, pp. 150-158; Dr. William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought:A Biblical Interpretation of American History (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 1999), pp. 166-167.
 James, p. 167.
 See, God Betrayed, Section V, Chapter 3 for the history of how the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was used to apply the First Amendment to all levels of civil government.
 See, e.g., Jerald Finney, God Betrayed, Section VI, Chapters 2 and 7; Jerald Finney, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Co., 2009), Chapters 3 and 7.
 See, God Betrayed, Section VI, Chapters 1, 4, 5, 8, and 10 and Separation of Church and State, Chapters 1, 4, 5, and 8 for an explanation of 501(c)(3) status for churches.
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
Can we agree that Satan likes nothing better than to keep the lost from God, and to separate both the saved and God’s churches from God? If so, this article may be of interest to you because it is concerned with the latter—the separation of God’s churches from God.
The Bible itself is God’s book of theology, history, law, and grace. The Bible (1) chronicles history from the beginning to the end, although some of that history is in the form of prophecy which has not yet been fulfilled; (2) lays out the principles of law and grace for both Israel and Gentile nations; and (3) applies principles to history and law as regards individuals, families, nations, and churches. Once grounded in truth in God’s church in conjunction with Holy Spirit led study of God’s Word, God’s people are then equipped to apply His principles as individuals, families, and as citizens of the nation which they inhabit.
This article deals primarily with the doctrines of the church and separation of church and state. Satan knows that Christ “loved the church and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Ep. 5.24-26). Satan also knows that individuals, families, and nations will not succeed in their God-given goals without churches where God is loved and the whole counsel of God is preached with “all longsuffering and doctrine” (See, e.g., 2 Ti. 3 and 4). After all, God’s churches are the “pillar and ground [i.e., foundation] of the truth” (2 Ti. 3.15). In the church age, God establishes churches for His people, and only His people have the ability to apply His principles by growing in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom concerning the Bible (theology), history, law, and grace.
If Satan can separate churches from God, then individuals, families, and nations will fall. Therefore believers should be diligent in keeping the following admonition of the Apostle Paul to churches:
“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Co. 11.1-3).
After an intensive study of biblical principles concerning church and state, history, law, and grace, I have concluded that Satan has seduced most of America’s churches. Please consider my arguments below before you quit reading. Then make up your mind as to the truth of my assertions.
Historically, many Bible believing Baptists stood for religious freedom in the face of persecution, not only in the American colonies but also since the beginning of the church age—separation of church and state, or religious liberty, or soul liberty was a Baptist distinctive.[fn1] How sad to see that many Baptists compromised the love relationship between Christ and his church soon after the United States Constitution and the First Amendment thereto were ratified. They compromised some biblical doctrines. For example, many Baptist churches incorporated for anti-biblical reasons. In the twentieth century, Baptist churches further violated the principle of separation of church and state by acquiring Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) (“501c3”) status.
One must diligently search the Scriptures and apply the relevant principles to the facts concerning incorporation and 501c3 to understand that incorporation and 501c3 of a church violate biblical principles. I have fully explained the nature of incorporation and 501c3 and the relevant biblical principles in two books and also in two articles on this blog.[fn2] An honest study by a born again believer can arrive at no other conclusion than that “a corporation cannot be the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ. The incorporated part of an incorporated church is not the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ, but rather an extramarital illicit relationship existing alongside the marriage.”[fn3] Incorporation and 501c3 for churches is an exemption-definition-control scheme devised by civil government.[fn4]
The Bible explains and applies the principles of apostasy to the nation Israel as well as to the church. The history and consequences of apostasy concerning the nation Israel, God’s chosen nation and the only theocracy He ever ordained, is clearly recorded in the Old Testament. While under God, and recorded in the book of Judges, when Israel forsook the Lord and followed other gods, they provoked the Lord who “delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies” (Jud. 2.12-14). Since she had no earthly king, Israel had no choice but to turn to the Lord. The Israelites would “cry unto the Lord” who would then raise them up a deliverer, a judge, whom God would use to deliver them.
Israel reached the point where she decided that she did not like being directly under God. The road to total apostasy for the nation Israel began when Israel demanded a king so that, as they said, “we may also be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go our before us, and fight our battles” (see 1 S. 8). God gave Israel what she wanted, but warned them of the consequences (1 S. 8.11-17). God’s Word makes clear that this act of Israel was wicked (see 1 S. 12). Even though the nation had done wickedly, God, through Samuel, told Israel:
“… 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” (1 S. 12.20-22).
Israel was now within the permissive, as opposed to the perfect, will of God.
After she rejected God, Israel was ruled and led by her king, not God. After the division into the northern and southern kingdoms, Judah had some good kings, but Israel never had a good king. Under her good kings who followed the Lord, Judah was ordered according to God’s principles, the people honored God, and God blessed the nation. However, Judah and Israel never chose to be under God when ruled by evil kings. As a result, both kingdoms became more and more evil until they both reached the point of no return (total apostasy) and the only remedy was judgment. At that point, God arranged, as prophesied, first that Israel would be taken captive by Assyria, then Judah would be taken captive by Babylon.
This same pattern of apostasy, as prophesied and explained in the New Testament, has been followed by churches in America. Of course, there has always been a remnant of true churches and believers who teach and practice the whole counsel of God. Baptist churches in the United States were warned by God’s prophets such as Isaac Backus and others not to incorporate because incorporation violated biblical principles; but many or most refused to look at the issue from a biblical point of view. Most of the same Baptists who had fought long and hard for religious freedom in America entered the road to apostasy soon after the ratification of the Constitution—they ran down to their state governments and sought and received corporate status from a lesser sovereign. They could do this because the First Amendment to the United States Constitution did not apply to the states until well into the twentieth century.[fn5] They could not do this on the federal level because of the First Amendment:
On February 21, 1811 President James Madison vetoed a bill entitled “An Act incorporating the Protestant Episcopal Church in the town of Alexander, in the District of Columbia” the District of Columbia being under federal jurisdiction. He stated that the bill violated the religion clause of the First Amendment.[fn6]
In all biblical covenants to which God is a party, the parties to the covenant accept duties and obligations underlining the fact that power is established through the consent of both sides rather than through tyranny by the more powerful party.[fn7] God gives churches (as well as individuals, families, and nations) free will. Churches choose to either honor or dishonor the Sovereign who is their spiritual Bridegroom, Husband, and Head. Through incorporation, churches choose the seductions of a lesser sovereign and place themselves at least partially under the permissive, as opposed to the perfect or directive, will of God. They violate the principle of separation, specifically the principle of separation of church and state for which our Baptist forefathers stood, suffered, and died. They choose the road toward apostasy. Like Israel who dishonored her love relationship with God the Father, these churches dishonor their love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.[fn8]
Of course, for a long time, God honored America and America’s Bible believing churches even though most had chosen to dishonor their love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ; but a little leaven[fn9] will grow and eventually pervert the truths in the Word of God. “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (See, e.g., Ga. 7.5-9. This principle is seen throughout the Bible.). False teaching takes its toll on churches and unrepentant heretic[fn10] churches will eventually go into complete apostasy, denying redemptive truth. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pe. 2.1). Many churches and cults deny truth concerning Christ’s person as son of God, God Himself, (1 Jn. 2.18-28; 4.1-5)and salvation by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The New Testament makes clear that the visible churches, except for a remnant, will go into apostasy (See, e.g. 2 Th. 2.3-4; 1 Ti. 4.6; Jude 4). Church apostasy has a great effect on nations. As Dr. J. Vernon McGee has taught, the steps in the downfall of a nation are religious apostasy, moral awfulness and political anarchy. Gentile world apostasy comes in seven stages: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Ro. 1.21-23). As a result of this Gentile world apostasy, mankind will sink into the depths of depravity (See Ro. 1.24-32).
The apostasy is usually introduced by ungodly men who will “wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Ti. 3.13). Our Lord warned against false teachers (See, e.g., Mt. 5.19; 7.15, 21-23; 15.9; 24.4-5, 11; Mk. 13.22). Peter, Paul, and Jude traced the origin of apostasy to false teachers, explained their methods of operation, and warned the church to beware of apostasy (See Ac. 20.28-31; Ga. 1.8-9; 3.1; 2 Co. 11.4, 19; Tit. 1.10-11; 1 Ti. 4.1-2, 3-5; 2 Pe. 2.1-3, 15-19; (all 2 Pe. 2 deals with false teachers); 3.3-4; 2 Jn. 9-11; Jude 4). Jude predicts the apostasy of the professing church and describes the cause and course of the apostasy. As in 2 Timothy and 2 Peter, the apostasy is treated as already having set in.
Apostasy has been apparent in some of the mainline denominations for a long time. Even many Bible believing Baptist churches have steadily increased in heretical teaching since the birth of the United States. For example, incorporation in authentic American churches was followed by the assaults of religious modernism, the building of huge edifices, watered down versions of the Word of God, infiltrations by psychology and other human techniques, organizing and operating churches like businesses to one degree or another, and so forth. The erosion of God’s New Testament churches was already being noted by some American preachers in the 1800s.
We are witnessing the inevitable consequences of the leaven of union of church and state through incorporation and 501c3 tax exemption. A wife who takes that first step away from her husband by fraternizing with another lover damages the marriage relationship and the journey toward the destruction of the marriage has begun. We now see the fruition of the practice of false doctrine in the apostate church growth and emerging church movements. In addition, most or many even so-called “Bible believing churches” today define their doctrine based upon the desires and philosophies of man. Many “Baptist” churches are now “Baptist” in name only. More and more close their doors each year. Thank the Lord that many heretical and apostate “Baptist” change their names from “Baptist”—it is too bad more of those type churches do not do so. Many have “a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.”
Some incorporated churches have good pastors who still preach and apply biblical principles concerning individuals and families and reach out to the lost through missions programs, public ministries such as door to door evangelism, street preaching, helping the poor, etc.; but I again repeat, as time marches on more and more of those churches are being cursed with pastors who are leading them into heresy to a greater or lesser degree and sometimes into apostasy. The road to total apostasy and judgment in Israel, after Israel chose to be ruled by a king, took 400 years. America has been a nation for only 235 years, but look at the spiritual condition of her churches, generally speaking.
This situation would not have arisen had pastors and churches loved their Savior, Lord, Head, Bridegroom, and Husband. Have you ever applied the principles of love in the Bible to your love for the Lord Jesus Christ in order to determine if you really love Him? I explain in two of my books how a church denies her love for the Lord Jesus Christ when she incorporates or becomes a legal entity in any way, including securing 501c3 religious organization status.[fn11]
Saying that one loves God is easy. Not many “Bible-believing” pastors and Christians will admit to not loving God. In fact, most will be infuriated if their love for the Lord is questioned. What is the proof of their love for God, according to the word of God? Is it the fact that they win souls; that they preach the Gospel; that they do many wonderful works; that they say unto Jesus, Lord, Lord; that they prophesy in Christ’s name (that they have the gift of prophecy so that they understand all mysteries, and all knowledge); that they cast out devils in Jesus name; that they do many wonderful works in Jesus name; that they speak with the tongues of men and of angels; that they have all faith, so that they can remove mountains; that they bestow all their goods to feed the poor; that they give their bodies to be burned? If one does all those things and more, but does not have “charity” (supreme love for God and man), it profits him nothing, and he is nothing but is as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (See Song of Solomon, esp. 8.7 and 1 Co. 13. Many of us forget that these verses should be used not only to examine our love for our fellow man, but also, and more importantly, our love for God.). God’s Word tells us that love is not an emotion or feeling, but action. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what actions constitute love. Jesus Christ personified love through His actions, not through His Words. His Words merely proclaimed His love which were backed up by His actions. We show our love for Him through our actions.
The relationship of a church to her Lord is of utmost importance. You may be like the church at Ephesus. If so–and in spite of your works, labor, patience, and the fact that you “cannot bear those who are evil, and hast born, and hast patience, and for Jesus’ names sake have labored, and hast not fainted”—the Lord has somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. He wants you to repent and do the first works. If you do not, He will come to you quickly and remove your candlestick—in other words, you will no longer be a church even though you may call yourself a church.
You can, for the time being, choose the type church you want to be in America without persecution. You can be like the church at Ephesus, the church at Pergamos, the church at Thyatira, the church at Sardis, the church at Philadelphia, or the church at Laodicia. If you are a church in America, you cannot presently experience tribulation and poverty like the revered church at Smryna, but you can still choose, as did the church at Philadelphia, to keep the word of His patience and not deny His name. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
 I would note that “true Christianity is not found by any visible tracing through one set of people. It has been enwrapped in all who have followed purely apostolic principle through the ages; and thus the purity of Baptist life is found in the essence of their doctrines and practices by whomever enforced…. Pure doctrine, as it is found uncorrupted in the word of God, is the only unbroken line of succession which can be traced in Christianity.” See, e.g., Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 1 (New York: Bryan, Taylor, & Co.; Chicago: Morningside Publishing Co., 1887), pp. 1-12 reprinted by Baptist Bible College in Srpingfield, Mo., 1977.
 The books are: Jerald Finney, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Company, 2008 and Xulon Press, 2008), Section VI; (this book thoroughly analyses the biblical principles and the American application of those principles); Jerald Finney, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Company, 2009 and also Xulon Press, 2009). The articles are “Separation of church and state: Christians who call evil good and good evil”and“The Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) exemption-definition-control scheme.” A link to that article is included below. One can hear my audio teaching on the subject by clicking the player included with the article.
 Ibid. See Section VI, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed and Chapter 5 of Separation of Church and State.
 I explain how the First Amendment came to be applied to the states in Section V of God Betrayed. In that section, I also explain how the United States Supreme Court redefined the term “separation of church and state” in such a way that the new definition has been used to remove from practically all civil government matters.
 See God Betrayed, p. 365 for the full quote of President Madison’s objections to the bill.
 This accurate description was stated in Tashbih Sayyed, Ph.D., Levitt Letter, “A Muslim Observes A Jewish Land,” November 2009, p. 2.
 See God Betrayed and also, Jerald Finney The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls? (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Co., 2008).
 Leaven means false doctrine or something which corrupts or depraves that with which it is mixed. “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Saducees…. How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Mt. 16.6, 11-12.
 “Heresy,” in its modern sense, means “any opinion which is repugnant to the doctrines of Scriptures. However, as men differ in the interpretation of Scripture, an opinion deemed heretical by one body of Christians, may be deemed orthodox by another.” See AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “heresy.” Of course, Scripture contains truth and no alternatives to truth are possible.
One needs to consider the original sense of the meaning of “heresy” and “heretic.” Established churches have killed millions of those whom they labeled “heretics.” They did this because they denied choice to those who disagreed with the state religion. Thus, harlot religious organizations have perverted Scripture in order to force unity. These state religions, heretics themselves according to the modern sense, falsely labeled even true believers “heretics.” “The word “heresy” is derived from the Greek very hairein, which translates: “make-choice-between-alternatives” or “to exercise choice in the presence of alternatives.” See Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964), p. 72 and Leorard Verduin, The First Amendment and the Remnant (Sarasota, Florida: The Christian Hymnary Publishers, 1998), pp. xiii-xiv, 20.
The Word of God teaches that God gives everyone freedom of conscience to choose truth or error, regardless of civil government laws which require imprisonment, persecution, and death for “heretics.”
 God Betrayed and The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls?
Persecuted Christians down through the last two thousand years, including untold millions in the world today, have understood the biblical principles of separation of church and state and have refused, even under the penalty of torutre, imprisonment, and/or death to submit the church and spiritual matters to the ungodly – to the state-religion combination or to civil government.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as state constitutional provisions and laws allow churches in America to operate totally free from civil government without persecution. Nonetheless, American churches line up to incorporate, become unincorporated associations, corporations sole, charitable trusts and get their 501(c)(3) tax exemptions, thereby violating the biblical principle of separation of church and state. When they do that, they grieve our Lord who is the Bridegroom, Husband, and Head of His churches.
To play, just click the link. To download, right click link and then left click “Save link as.”
Introduction to Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Chapter 1 of Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities. This introduction is more suitable for one who has not read God Betrayed.
Introduction to Chapter 1, Section VI of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application. This introduction is far one who has read the first 5 sections of God Betrayed.
Spiritual versus legal entities (Chapter 2 of Separation of Church and State.This is a summary of important information for one who has not read God Betrayed.).
Do you know how the Supreme Court has gone about removing God from practically all civil government matters? Don’t feel bad if you don’t know the answer to that question because most Christians in America have not had time to do the intense study required to understand this issue. If you are interested in knowing the answer, the following audio teaching will give you a basic understanding of the history of Supreme Court religion clause jurisprudence.
To play, just click the link. To download, right click link and then left click “Save link as.”
Even though the Supreme Court has used the religion clause and the term “separation of church and state” to remove God and create a pluralistic nation, the Court still recognizes the original meaning of the clause. Churches can still choose to operate under God only and be in line with the First Amendment and the Supreme Court interpretation of the Amendment. In other words, churches can, without violating man’s law and/or being persecuted, choose not to become legal entities such incorporate, become corporations sole or unincorporated associations and get the 501(c)(3) tax exemption. In other words, they can choose to remain “First Amendment” churches organized according to the principles of the New Testament without being persecuted.
For His Glory,
Christian and practicing attorney
"Churches under Christ" is a ministry of Charity Baptist Tabernacle of Amarillo, Texas, Benjamin Hickam Pastor. Jerald Finney, a Christian Lawyer and member of Charity Baptist Tabernacle explains how a church in America can remain under the Lord Jesus Christ and Him only. "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1.22).