Tag Archives: state church

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

Jerald Finney
Copyright © September 9, 2015

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

BestAnswer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My answer  to the above question was as follows:

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

4“‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: One’s convictions


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 10, 2012


From Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities. Not in God Betrayed.


Preface

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

This article will deal with the fifth false reason, one’s convictions. Other articles cover the other five reasons:  

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

Article:
Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: One’s convictions

Pastors, Christians, and churches give various “theological” reasons to excuse the incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exemption of churches. The theologies of Catholic and Protestant churches have traditionally supported church-state union and therefore incorporation and 501(c)(3), although such churches have some problems with American incorporation and 501(c)(3) which give civil government considerable control over churches rather than giving the established church control over civil government (select articles from the categories at left for information on the control given civil government through incorporation  and 501(c)(3)). In most cases, their objection to corporate 501(c)(3) status and the control such a position gives civil government over their churches does not prevent them from submitting and obtaining that status. The author explains the Catholic and Protestant theologies that support church establishment in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (all books by Jerald Finney are also available free in both PDF and online form on this website; for information on ordering the paperback copies of the books see the “Books” page of the “Church and State Law“ website, or the “Order information page for books by Jerald Finney” page of this website); in the article “An Abridged History of the First Amendment“; in his radio broadcasts which are archived on the “Radio Broadcast” page of the ”Church and State Law” website; and in the audio teachings which are linked to on the “Blog” page of “Church and State Law” website. (Click the following link to preview God Betrayed: Link to preview of God Betrayed.))

Bible believing churches are not as sophisticated in their rationale for incorporating and getting 501(c)(3). Their rationale is anemic since biblical principle, without the perversions of Catholic and Protestant theologies,  supports separation of church and state (not separation of God and state). One reason given by “Bible believing” churches, especially Baptist,  is that the issue of whether to incorporate and/or get 501(c)(3) status is an important issue, but it is not the most important issue; therefore, they reason, if a church finds it impractical to discard or reject the corporate and/or 501(c)(3) status, then just go ahead with that status and do the best you can because the most important thing for believers and churches is winning souls. That reason is false, as the author explains in various resources: for example, (1) the booklet, The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (all books by Jerald Finney are also available free in both PDF and online form on this website; for information on ordering the paperback copies of the books see the “Books” page of the “Church and State Law“ website, or the “Order information page for books by Jerald Finney” page of this website); (2) the article, The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls; and (3) audio teachings on The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls, available on the “Radio Broadcast” page of “Church and State Law”.

Another reason given by some pastors and Christians of “Bible believing” churches for their decision to incorporate is that it is up to each individual church to decide the issue based upon “their convictions.” The author hears this excuse from pastors all the time. In this article, he addresses this rationale using an article written by Dr. Charles Brown as a springboard.

The question to be answered is: “Can one decide either to incorporate a church (or to continue as an incorporated church) or not to incorporate a church and still please God?” The proper place to begin is by defining “conviction” and “principle.” Relevant definitions of “conviction” are: (1) “a strong persuasion or belief;” (2) “the state of being convinced” (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed., 1995)). Principle may be defined as: “a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption” (Ibid.). Of course, if a conviction is based upon biblical principles, that conviction is valid in the eyes of God. Cannot true followers of Christ agree that if one acts upon a conviction which is contrary to or not based upon principles in the Word of God, “sin lieth at the door?”

Dr. Charles Brown wrote an article, “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate,” which was published in the April, 2008 issue of The Landmark Anchor. In that article, Dr. Brown explains why his conviction is that a church should incorporate. However, he also states in the article, “If  a church has theological objections to becoming incorporated, then, by all means, do not incorporate.” In other words, according to that statement of Dr. Brown, since the Bible does not offer any comprehensive principles or doctrine controlling church corporate status one can safely choose either corporate or non-corporate status without violating biblical precept.

However, while making that statement, Dr. Brown also makes his case for church incorporation. Interestingly, he does not state any biblical principles concerning the organization, purpose, fate, or nature of churches to back up what he says. Rather, he bases his understanding upon “research and consultation with a law firm.”

He refers to the law in his article:

(1)    He correctly states that a “corporation is a legal status that enables a group joined together for a stated reason … to act as if it is a person. That ‘legal person’ may own property, conduct business, and otherwise carry out its purpose.” A New Testament and First Amendment church (hereinafter referred to as a “First Amendment church”) may not own property, or conduct business (as the word is used in America). A First Amendment church cannot also be a “business.” However, a First Amendment church may utilize property in American in a manner consistent with biblical principles; and, unlike the state incorporated church, she may carry out her purpose within the letter of civil law while still pleasing her Lord. The incorporated church has a “form of godliness, but denies the power thereof.”

Note. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the implementation of the biblical principle of separation of church and state (not separation of God and State). This is fully explained in the book God Betrayed which, as explained above, is available on this website in both PDF and online form and can be ordered in paperback form.

(2)    Dr. Brown then asserts that “Usually a church incorporates to limit its liability.” His statement is true as to a false reason given for incorporation of a church.  It is not true that a state incorporated “church” and its members has more protection from liability than a First Amendment church and her members. Again, I explain this in Section VI, Chapter 6 of God Betrayed, in audio teachings available on the “Blog” and “Radio Broadcast” pages of “Church and State Law,” and in the article “Church Incorporation Increases Liability of Church Members.”

(3)    Dr. Brown states, “An unincorporated church is owned by individuals. Each share in the liability of the property and all things done in the name of that church. In a church split, the assets of the church may be claimed by either side and lawsuits could erupt, because each member owns the church.” (This is a direct accurate quote from his article.).

His assertions are totally wrong as to a First Amendment church, but correct as to the incorporated church. A First Amendment church, a spiritual entity only, is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ only. A First Amendment church owns no property, although there are many legal means in America for such a church to utilize property without owning property. Perhaps Dr. Brown should reread the Bible, and especially I Corinthians Chapter 6 in regard to lawsuits by church members. All the legal problems occurring within churches are in incorporated churches – to understand this, just make use of Google.

In fact, the incorporated church creates several contracts when it incorporates – contracts between the state and the corporation, between the corporation and the members, between the members themselves, and between the members and the state. The controlling party to all these contracts is the state, and the state will decide disputes based upon secular, not Biblical, law. Try appealing to the Bible when you get into such a dispute. The sovereign of the corporation will quickly explain your error and hold you in contempt if you do not  abandon your appeal to God’s principles.

(4) He also asserts: “The United States Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Churches fit in those categories. Anything the state might choose to do (prosecute, regulate, etc.) to a church, they may do regardless if the church is incorporated or not.”

The author explains in detail why this is a totally ridiculous and false statement in various resources. A man who make such a statement is speaking outside his field of expertise.

(5) Dr. Brown proclaims: “[A] church is not state licensed because it is incorporated. A license is a recognition from a responsible authority to conduct an activity that would be illegal to conduct without that license. No church needs to be licensed to be a church. An unincorporated church may legally do the same activities that one that is incorporated.”

That statement by Dr. Brown is a jumbled mess. First, who is a “responsible authority?” Perhaps he is referring to a civil government. What if the civil government which requires a license is not a responsible authority? A First Amendment church which is not a legal entity such as a corporation cannot get a license. A corporate church, since she is a legal entity, can get a license. The author explains that in his resources.

Second, individual believers can choose to get such a license and thereby displease our Lord. One notable Christian who chose not to get a license was John Bunyan. One can read a portion of his trial transcript in the article, “An Abridged History of the First Amendment.” If you read the article, you will find out the reasons a Christian should not get a license for preaching, holding church meetings, and for certain other spiritual activities.

Third, although licensure and incorporation are not the same, they both violate the  biblical doctrine of the church.

Fourth, an incorporated church cannot do everything that a First Amendment church, which is not a legal entity in any way, can do.

Furthermore, the corporate church is organized according the law of her sovereign state (the law makes clear that the sovereign of the corporation, including the non-profit religious organization – the correct name for an incorporated “church” – is the state of incorporation). One can find out exactly what non-profit incorporation is in my books, articles, and audio teachings available from “Church and State Law” and “Separation of Church and State Law” blog.

Finally, the nature of a corporate church is entirely different from that of a First Amendment church in many respects. The corporate church has given up much of her Constitutional protections. She falls under the Fourteenth Amendment as opposed to the First Amendment as to many matters. She has also grieved our Lord since she has placed herself at least partially under another head.

(6) He goes on to say that “Incorporated churches are not ‘state run churches.’ Incorporated churches do not have to report to the state what they preach, how much money is spent, how they run their affairs, or who tithes. They do have to give the state an application typically containing: name and address of the church, purpose of the organization, manner of election of ‘officers,’ the  name and  address of the initial registered agent (usually the Pastor), and three names and addresses of the incorporators (usually trustees or deacons). The church ought to have a constitution and bylaws but they are for the internal working of the church and the state will not review them, nor want them.”

Dr. Brown does give a few isolated facts about incorporation, but he does not examine the law involved in any depth. He does not mention the biblical principles for a church and compare those principles to the facts and law concerning incorporation. He, for example, fails to mention that the “sovereign of the corporation is the state,” that the corporation is a creature of the state, that the corporation must follow the rules that are given her by her sovereign, that the corporation must be structured according to the organizational rules laid down by the sovereign state, etc. The author explains exactly the law of the non-profit corporation in books, articles, and audio teachings.

Again, the author has compared biblical principle with the law and facts about incorporation in various resources including his books (available for purchase on the “Books” page of “Church and State Law”; in articles audio teachings available on the “Radio Broadcast” and “Blog” pages of “Church and State Law;” and in articles and audio teachings on this “Separation of Church and State Law” blog.).

(7) Finally, Dr. Brown mentions the court case, Hale v. Hinkle, a Supreme Court decision. His analysis is flawed. See the article linked to in the next paragraph for my comments on this.

In “To Incorporate of Not to Incorporate: Attorney Jerald Finney Answers Dr. Charles Brown, Executive VP of Landmark Baptist College,” (as a reminder, you can left click the preceding link to go directly to that article; however, the website was hijacked and all the issues of the magazine from which the article was taken, “The Trumpet,” have as of this date – September 4, 2013, to have been restored) an article published in the July-September issue of The Trumpet, the author rebuts to Dr. Brown’s article. That article, which was originally entitled “Responses to Arguments that Biblical Principles Do Not Clearly Warn Against Incorporation of Churches” addresses Dr. Brown’s article in more detail than does this brief article.

All Jerald Finney’s resources comprehensively deal with the issue of separation of church and state. Involved in the issue is the issue of whether incorporation and 501(c)(3), or becoming a legal entity in any way) violates principles in the Word of God and therefore grieves our Lord and ultimately results in bad consequences. When one applies the law and facts to biblical principles,  he sees that it is very clear that incorporation and 501(c)(3), etc. of churches are “iniquities” and grieve our Lord.

The church who is serious about her relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ may be ignorant about the biblical doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state. Sooner or later, she will suffer consequences as will the individuals and families in that church. However, the willfully ignorant church or the church which continues in presumptuous sin, her individual members, and the families within her church family are in greater danger (see, e.g., 2 Peter 1 and Hosea 4).

Endnote

Responses to Arguments that Biblical Principles Do Not Clearly Warn Against Incorporation of Churches
By Jerald Finney
Lead Counsel for the Biblical Law Center

Dr. Charles Brown recently wrote an article entitled “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate” which was published in the April, 2008 edition of The Landmark Anchor. In that article, he brought out important issues which, from a biblical perspective, are preeminent for a New Testament church. This article briefly answers some of the common assertions of various Christians which are reflected in Dr. Brown’s article.

I recently completed a book called God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. In that 453 page book I thoroughly addressed all the issues Dr. Brown raises and more. I want to encourage every Bible believer to get this book and study it. In the above mentioned article, Dr. Brown does not get into United States Code § 501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”) tax-exempt status for a church. Since almost all churches which incorporate also get 501(c)(3) status, such status should be considered in conjunction with the issue of incorporation of churches; but since Dr. Brown did not include the issue in his article, I will not address the issue herein. God Betrayed examines the issue of 501(c)(3) tax-exemption of churches.

It is impossible to do this subject justice in a short article, but I will attempt to shed some light on the issues he raised as succinctly as possible.

Dr. Brown stated: “A church does not have to be incorporated to be a real church.” My reply to that statement follows:

  • What is a real church? The New Testament gives the answer to that question. The revelation of the mystery of the church, which was foretold, but not explained by Christ in Matthew 16.18, was committed to Paul. In his writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church. God Betrayed delves into the biblical doctrines concerning the church.
  • New Testament churches never submitted themselves to the state in any way. In fact, the apostles were careful not to render to Caesar the things that were God’s. They were jealous of God’s churches. Paul said to the church, “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 (II Cor. 11.2-3).”
  • Is a corrupted church a real church? What if the leaders of a church reject knowledge and succumb to Satan’s seductions? In other words, what if those leaders are willfully ignorant (see Hosea 4)? Individuals have a responsibility after being saved—they are to add to their faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge temperance, to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity (II Pe. 1.4-7). They are to engage in spiritual warfare using spiritual weapons which constitute the whole “armour of God” (Ep. 6.10-18). Included in that “armour” is having one’s loins girt about with truth (Ep. 6.14).
  • A New Testament church is a spiritual entity only. Doing anything in America which subjects a church to the civil government in any way renders that church a “legal entity.” A “legal entity” is “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 (6th Ed., 1990), definition of ‘Legal Entity’).”
  • God desires that Christ be the only head over His churches (Ep. 1.22, 23; 2.22; 5.23-24; Col. 1.15-18).
  • The church is analogized to a husband and bridegroom of the church (Jn. 3.28, 29; Ro. 7.4; II Co. 11.1-4; Ep. 5.23-33; Re. 19.6-8).

Dr. Brown stated: “The United States [C]onstitution guarantees its citizens freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Churches fit in those categories.” My response:

  • The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and the right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” In the religion clause, churches are guaranteed freedom from government control. The words and history of the Amendment make this clear. Section VI of God Betrayed gives an unrevised account of the history of the First Amendment.
  • The words of the religion clause state, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment or religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Thus, the First Amendment allows a church to remain under God only without persecution, or to repent if they incorporated, gained 501(c)(3) status, or made ithemselves a legal entity in any way. The Biblical Law Center has already helped many churches to return to New Testament church status and is there to help other churches who wish to please God and return to New Testament church status. The freedom guaranteed a church by the First Amendment can be enjoyed within the parameters of the laws of the states and of the United States. The United States Supreme Court still recognizes that the state cannot interfere with a New Testament Church. Of course, there may be rogue governmental agencies and courts that may ignore these protections; but if a New Testament church makes sure to close all doors to being classified as a legal entity, there is no avenue for suit or attack against that church.

Dr. Brown stated: “Anything the state might choose to do (prosecute, regulate, etc.) to a church, they may do regardless if the church is incorporated or not.”

  • This statement not only contradicts what Dr. Brown said in his previous two sentences, it also is simply not true. A New Testament church cannot be prosecuted. It is not a legal entity. An individual within a New Testament church may be prosecuted for crimes or sued for torts allegedly committed, whether as principal or party. However, a New Testament church is not a legal entity as is an incorporated 501(c)(3) church; and, therefore, she cannot sue, be sued, or be charged with a crime. Only a member or members who allegedly committed a crime or tort can be charged with a crime or sued under the laws of a civil government.
  • The First Amendment guarantees that a New Testament church cannot be prosecuted, regulated, etc.

Dr. Brown’s statements concerning incorporation which follow his last mentioned statement are jumbled and very misleading. He is correct to say that incorporation “is a legal status that enables a group joined together for a stated reason (business, church, club, etc.) to act as if it was a person. That ‘legal person’ may own property, conduct business, and otherwise carry out its purpose.” As I stated above, a corporation is a legal entity. However, Dr. Brown’s description is incomplete. As pointed out in much more detail and with legal citations given in God Betrayed, civil law makes clear that:

  • “A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible and existing only in the contemplation of law. As a mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it. A corporation is not a natural person but rather an artificial person, that is, a legal fiction or a creature of statute (18 AM. JUR. 2D Corporations § 1 (2007)).”
  • The sovereign of the corporation is the state that creates it. “No corporation can exist without the consent or grant of the sovereign, since the corporation is a creature of the state and derives its powers by legislative grant…. Because the granting of the privilege to be a corporation and to do business in that form rests entirely in the state’s discretion, a state is justified in imposing such conditions on that privilege as it deems necessary, so long as those conditions are not imposed in a discriminatory manner (18A AM. JUR. 2D Corporations § 156 (2007)).”
  • A corporation is defined as “An artificial person or legal entity created by or under the authority of the laws of the state.” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 340 (6th Ed. 1990), under definition of “Corporation,” citing Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 518 (1819)).”
  • Early in our national history, the United States Supreme Court solidified already existing precedent—in a case involving a religious institution of higher learning and which influenced many churches to incorporate—concerning the attributes of incorporation which are applied to churches (Dartmouth College). In that same case, the Supreme Court defined the differences between public and private corporations. Public corporations are not voluntary associations and there is no contractual relation between the government and the individuals who compose the corporation as there is with the private corporation (such as railroad companies, banks, insurance companies, charities, churches, religious organizations, etc.); a corporation which does not possess governmental powers or functions is a private corporation (Ibid.).

Dr. Brown states that “[a]n unincorporated church is owned by individuals.”

If an unincorporated church is not a legal entity (incorporating and getting 501(c)(3) status are not the only ways to become legal entities), it is a New Testament church and the church is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Mt. 16.18)(Emphasis mine).” A New Testament church remains a spiritual entity only and owns no property. God Betrayed explains how an American church can assemble on property without owning it, etc.

Dr. Brown asserts that churches usually incorporate to limit liability.

However, in addition to limited liability, other reasons for incorporating are given by members of “churches:” incorporating protects their personal assets (1) from liability for the debts of the corporation, (2) from the torts and criminal acts of the corporation, and (3) from liability on contracts entered into by the corporation. Although such arguments are partially correct, they are misleading. These arguments are spurious for several reasons which are more thoroughly discussed in God Betrayed. The corporate veil can be pierced. Limited liability is not absolute as is explained in God Betrayed. Also, biblical principle is against a church going into debt; and if she does go into debt, not only does the Word of God teach that God expects her to honor her debts; but also that church has become a legal entity because she can be sued if she defaults on her debts and she can sue if the other party to the debt defaults on her agreements surrounding the indebtedness. As to torts and criminal acts, only visible members of a New Testament church can commit such acts. A New Testament church cannot commit a tort or a crime. Thus, only people (members), not a New Testament church (a spiritual entity only and not a legal entity), can be charged with a tort or crime to which they have allegedly either been principal or party. As to contracts, a New Testament church (a spiritual entity) has no need to and cannot enter into contracts. One can get around these principles only by means of human reasoning which are contrary to God’s principles.

Dr. Brown asks the question, “Is becoming an incorporated church the same as being a state licensed church?”

This question is a diversionary tactic. Of course the two are not the same; but, according to biblical principles, to license a church is a wicked act, and to incorporate a church is a wicked act. I have already pointed out many of the reasons why incorporation is wrong. God Betrayed gives other reasons and is much more detailed.

Dr. Brown then asks, “What about theological objections to incorporation?”He recommends not incorporating if one has theological objections.

  • The Word of God does not leave such an important issue up for grabs, and God expects His children to seek out and apply the principles He has laid down. God Betrayed is theological. Unlike most lawyers, including many or most of those who call themselves Christian, the foundation for all that I believe, as stated in God Betrayed, is biblical. My authority is not Supreme Court cases or civil laws. In God Betrayed, I first go to the Bible and explain the biblical principles of government, church, and separation of church and state. Then I examine history, Supreme Court decisions, and civil law (specifically incorporation, 501(c)(3), and other related laws as regards churches) in light of biblical principle. My main message is to New Testament churches, churches who want to be New Testament churches in obedience to biblical principle due to love for God, and to any other churches or Christians who want to know truth concerning these vital issues.
  • The real question should be, “What does the Bible teach about incorporation?” God Betrayed explains the biblical principles concerning incorporation (and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status) for churches and the consequences for violating those principles. God teaches that a church which incorporates has committed a wicked act. That church may continue to operate within God’s permissive will, but as with the nation Israel, the only true theocracy which has ever existed,  when she rejected God as ruler (and God permitted Israel to reject Him), once a church dishonors her relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, that church is on a slippery slope down. The end result will be spiritual apostasy, moral awfulness, and political tyranny. As the Bible teaches, the only remedy for apostasy is judgment.

Dr. Brown states that the Christian Law Association (“CLA”) has some excellent printed material that explains these issues simply and thoroughly.

I disagree. Although simplistic, CLA explanations on the issue of incorporation (and 501(c)(3) status) of churches are wrong according to biblical principles. As a Christian, I contributed to the CLA for a few years and respected much of what they did, as I still do concerning some of their work. Then I was called by God to become a lawyer. A few years ago, I began an intense study of the Bible, history, and the law concerning the issue of separation of church and state. I discovered that CLA founds what it believes on man’s statutory and case law, interprets the Bible according to man’s statutory and case law, revises history, and disseminates myths about the issue of separation of church and state (which involves the issues of incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status for churches). In fact, David Gibbs of the CLA once taught biblical principles concerning these issues but was persuaded by powerful pastors who had decided that they were going to seek incorporation and 501(c)(3) status that he should go with them on the issue. According to some sources, these pastors told him that if he did so they would establish his legal practice. It is irrefutable that after Attorney Gibbs switched his position, his earthly power and influence were multiplied many times over and the CLA began to thrive materially as an earthly entity with the financial support of thousands of churches and believers. Perhaps he felt that he should go with them to help and protect them, just as Jeremiah went with some of the Jews to Egypt against God’s warning. However, Jeremiah still spoke total truth as given him by God.

Dr. Brown then states that “Incorporated churches are not ‘state run churches.’”

  • In fact, incorporated churches, as fully explained in God Betrayed, are two-headed monsters. “Thus, whenever there is an incorporated church, there are two entities—the one, the church as such, not owing its ecclesiastical or spiritual existence to the civil law, and the other, the legal corporation—each separate, although closely allied. The former is voluntary and is not a corporation or a quasi corporation. On the other hand, a corporation which is formed for the acquisition and taking care of the property of the church, must be regarded as a legal personality, and is in no sense ecclesiastical in its functions (66 AM. JUR. 2D Religious Societies § 5 (2007)).”
  • An incorporated church gets part of her powers from God and part from the civil government. She is under two heads. Part of the church, as a legal entity, can sue and be sued as to both earthly and some spiritual matters. Part of the church must have elected officers who conduct business meetings, meet statutory requirements, etc.
  • This bifurcation of a church has other consequences. As has been shown, the state is sovereign of the incorporated part of a church. “Sovereign” means: possessed of supreme power or unlimited in extent: ABSOLUTE (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (6th Ed., 1990), definition of “sovereign”). Incorporation of churches creates contracts between the state and the corporation, the state and the members of the corporation, between the members themselves, and between the members and the corporation. Contract (agreement between two or more parties) is not biblical. The Bible teaches that the proper way to agree with another or others is through biblical covenant (covenant between two or more people and God).  The contracts created by incorporation entangle the incorporated church with earthly satanic concerns, solutions, and procedures. Furthermore, the statutory requirements as to the form and content of the articles or certificates of incorporation must be substantially followed. As sovereign, the state has ultimate authority in interpreting the articles of incorporation as well as the various contracts involved in incorporation should disputes be taken to court. By incorporating, a church gives up much of its First Amendment protection. It must, for example, keep records and make those records available to the state, on demand. Only a church which is not satisfied with the freedom and provisions afforded the church by God (which are, by the way, implemented by the First Amendment) seeks incorporation.
  • An incorporated church must deal with all the government red tape that comes with incorporation. The incorporated church must now elect officers, hold business meetings, notify members of those meetings pursuant to statutory requirements, keep records, etc. All these secular activities take tremendous time, energy, and resources which could be used in pursuing the God-given purposes of a church. The incorporated church which does not comply with statutory requirements is being dishonest and could face further problems from her sovereign state.

Notice that Jesus said that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against [my church].” What about the church that is partly under God and partly under Satan? That church has fallen for Satan’s seduction:

“SEDUCTION, n. … 2. Appropriately, the act or crime of persuading a female, by flattery or deception, to surrender her chastity. A woman who is above flattery, is least liable to seduction; but the best safeguard is principle, the love and purity of holiness, the fear of God and reverence for his commandments. (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828))”

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. An incorporated church, having compromised her love for her Husband, will continue to make incremental compromises, and ultimately (perhaps in 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, or 200 years or more) will fall into heresy and apostasy. And from the beginning of that initial compromise, the Lord, even though longsuffering in His love and mercy, is grieving because of His wife’s compromise; and the compromising church gives up at least a portion of the power of God.

With the above information it should already be completely obvious to any born again believer who loves the Lord and who has been saved any length of time at all that a church should never incorporate. Scripture contains no principle consistent with church incorporation or incorporation in general. In fact, everything about incorporation is anti-biblical. If one who loves the Lord and comes into this understanding is in a church that is already incorporated, he will do all he can to shed the 501(c)(3) and/or corporate status of that church.

Dr. Brown then refers to Hale v. Hinkle.

He is partially right about his observations concerning that case. Although God Betrayed very briefly mentions Hale v. Hinkle, 201 U.S. 43 (1906), the case could be eliminated from the book without compromising any assertions in the book. Dr. Brown is correct when he states that the case did not deal with a church. He says that “this ruling had nothing to do with a church and does not mean that a church is a state run entity.” This statement is only partially true in that a church was not involved in the case. However, Hale v. Hinkle presents general incorporation law, and the principles in the case are applied to the issue of church incorporation. For example, an incorporated church does give up some of its constitutional protections such as its First Amendment Rights while retaining only due process and equal protection rights just as the corporate officer in Hale v. Hinkle gave up Constitutional rights, as Dr. Brown mentions in his article.

Dr. Brown closes his article by saying he has “no particular advice to offer for a church to get or refuse to get incorporated.”

In effect, Dr. Brown is stating that God does not care what a church does concerning incorporation since, as he puts it, “It is an issue to decide for themselves.” In other words, according to Dr. Brown, the Bible can be read to both support and condemn incorporation. However, when one opens the Word of God, one opens the mind and heart of God concerning this issue as well as many others.

Loving God is preeminent for a believer and for a church. One does not love God by just asserting that he loves God. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14.15).” The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mt. 22.37; Mk. 12.30; Lk. 10.27).

Love is action. This love which Christ has for His church and which he desires His church to show Him is seen in the Song of Solomon which is primarily an expression of pure marital love, and secondarily of Christ and His heavenly bride, the church. Song of Solomon  8.7 says, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly contemned.”  “Contemned” means “despised, scorned, slighted, neglected, or rejected with disdain (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “CONTEMNED.”).” God despises, scorns, slights, neglects, or rejects with disdain all that a church does, whatever professions of love she makes, if those acts and/or professions are without love. A church that does not honor Christ as a wife is to honor her husband, her bridegroom, by remaining chaste, does not display love for the Lord. Thus, loving ones neighbor by witnessing to him, sending missionaries to him, leading him to the Lord,  or helping him materially or any other way in obedience to the second commandment—“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”—is vanity in God’s eyes if one ignores the greatest commandment. Souls will still be saved because of the grace of God, but not as many, especially in the long run, as would be saved had the churches displayed love for their bridegroom, husband, and head.

This fact is also articulated in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus is jealous over His churches.  If we do not love the Lord Jesus, He despises all the “Christian” work we do and the money we put in the offering plate:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing (I Co. 13.1-3).”

“In a theological sense, [‘charity’] “includes supreme love to God and a universal good will to men. 1 Cor. xiii. Col. iii. 1 Tim. I (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “CHARITY.”).”  Love is an act of the will. A church refutes its proclamations of love for the Lord when it wholly or partially takes the church from under the headship of her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Love “[r]ejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (I Co. 13.6).” Iniquity means “Injustice, unrighteousness, … [w]ant of rectitude [rightness in principle or practice], … a sin or crime; wickedness (Ibid., definitions of “INIQUITY” and “RECTITUDE.”)….” Bible truth makes clear that the love of Christ for His church is immense, that He wants to be the only Head and companion of the church which is likened to His wife and bride, and that for a church to even partially put herself under or associate with another entity is a great wickedness and repudiates all professions of love for the Lord. As shown in Section VI of God Betrayed, the church that secures a 501(c)(3) tax-exemption and/or incorporates puts herself partially under another head, commits a wicked sinful act in violation of biblical principle, rejoices in iniquity, and refutes its professions of love for the Lord.

The Lord Jesus gave a warning to the church at Ephesus:

 “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent (Re. 2.2-5).”

As Dr. J. Vernon McGee teaches us, this warning was for every church that has lost her love for the Lord Jesus:

“It was a warning of danger of getting away from a personal and loving relationship with Jesus Christ. The real test of any believer, especially those who are attempting to serve Him, is not your little method or mode or system, or your dedication, or any of the things that are so often emphasized today. The one question is: Do you love Him? Do you love the Lord Jesus? When you love Him, you will be in a right relationship with Him, but when you begin to depart from the person of Christ, it will finally lead to lukewarmness. The apostate church was guilty of lukewarmness. It may not seem to be too bad, but it is the worst condition that anyone can be in. A great preacher in upper New York state said: ‘Twenty lukewarm Christians hurt the cause of Christ more than one blatant atheist.’ A lukewarm church is a disgrace to Christ (J. Vernon McGee, Revelation, Volume I (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1982), pp. 121-122).”

As the Lord Jesus Christ is jealous over His churches, so should pastors and church members be jealous, with a godly jealousy, over the church they belong to, just as Paul was:

“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.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him (II Co. 11.2-4; Lk. 18.8; II Ti. 3.1-8).

The church that really loves her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ, will seek to maintain her purity, to be subject to her Husband in all things whether that church is persecuted or not. All the professions of love, all the good deeds, the hymns sung, and the messages preached by a church which does not totally submit herself in all things to her Husband, are contemned by the Lord. A church that takes a 501(c)(3) tax exemption, an incorporation, a license, or any type permit from the state, or puts herself under the state in any way, becomes an earthly legal entity subject to the jurisdiction of an earthly power, the civil government. Such a “church” is in fact a two headed monster. In spite of her emotions and professions of love for the Lord, according to her acts she shows, based upon God’s definition of love in the Bible, that she does not love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dispensation Theology versus Covenant Theology


Jerald Finney
Copyright © March 10, 2012


Preface

This article is a continuation of Jerald Finney’s systematic development of the doctrines, application, history, and legalities of “separation of church and state.” See EN1 for more on this matter. This article is an edited version of Section III, Chapter 3 of the book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed). (Link to Contents of “Separation of Church and State Law” Blog which has links so that the new follower can start his study at the beginning. “Line upon line, precept upon precept.”). See EN2 for information on books by Jerald Finney which thoroughly examine “separation of church and state law.”


Dispensation Theology versus Covenant Theology

In order to understand religious liberty and the history of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (freedom of speech, press, association, religion (or religious liberty), and conscience; soul liberty; separation of church and state; and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances), one must understand Dispensational Theology and Covenant Theology. The Puritans were  Covenant Theologians. Historic Baptists were Dispensationalists (in belief, although the term “Dispensational Theology” was not coined until sometime in the last few hundred years). These two theologies clashed in the English colonies of America, the Baptist view prevailing with the adoption of the First Amendment. Unknown to most contemporary “Baptists” the warfare between various biblical theologies continues and will continue until the kingdom of heaven is established by our Lord. Most “Baptists,” not to mention members of denominations and religions, have unknowingly succumbed to false religious beliefs and philosophies as end-time prophesy unfolds as foretold in Scripture. This article explains Dispensational Theology and Covenant Theology, distinguishes them, and will be invaluable in one’s quest for understanding of the biblical principle of separation of church and state and the American application thereof.

Although many biblical principles run from Genesis to Revelation, the rules for church and state and for the Jewish religion-state are not the same. Under Judaism (the Jewish religion as ordained by God), religion and state operated hand-in-hand under God; that is, the religion and state were unified by God, both religion and state instructed by God to work together directly under God for the same goals. The church has not replaced Israel, and the rules for the church and state are different than the rules God ordained for the theocracy in Israel. Distinct rules, as discussed in Chapter 4 of God Betrayed and also in the next article to be published on this website (entitled “Distinct differences between church and state”), are laid down in the Bible concerning Judaism and Israel and the church and state. It is a grave mistake to Judaize the church, a mistake which has many consequences. Dr. C. I. Scofield was correct in his assertion that:

“It may safely be said that the Judaizing of the Church has done more to hinder her progress, pervert her mission, and destroy her spiritually, than all other causes combined. Instead of pursuing her appointed path of separation from the world and following the Lord in her heavenly calling, she has used Jewish Scriptures to justify herself in lowering her purpose to the civilization of the world, the acquisition of wealth, the use of an imposing ritual, the erection of magnificent churches, the invocation of God’s blessing upon the conflicts of armies, and the division of an equal brotherhood into ‘clergy’ and ‘laity.’” (Dr C. I. Scofield, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, First Edition, January, 1896), p. 12).

The “Judaizing” of the church is based upon false biblical interpretation, upon a false philosophy of history. “Karl Lowith defines ‘a philosophy of history as ‘a systematic interpretation of universal history in accordance with a principle by which historical events and successions are unified and directed toward ultimate meaning’” (Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), p. 17, citing Karl Lowith, Meaning in History (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1949), p. 1; see also, Renald E. Showers, There Really Is a Difference: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology (Bellmawr, New Jersey: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1990), p.  1). This definition “centers on three things: (1) the ultimate goal of history; (2) the unifying principle; and (3) the recognition of ‘historical events and successions,’ or a proper concept of the progress of revelation in history” (Ryrie, p. 17). The Bible contains a philosophy of history because it deals with the issue of meaning, offers a systematic interpretation of history, covers the entire scope of history from beginning to end, including the what and why of the future, presents a unifying principle which ties together and makes sense of the whole gamut of events, distinctions, and successions, and demonstrates that history has an ultimate goal or purpose (Showers, p. 2; Ryrie, p. 17).

The two main systems which Bible-believing scholars have developed to exposit the Bible’s philosophy of history over the last three or four hundred years, Dispensationalism or Dispensational Theology and Covenant Theology, have produced two systems of theology. Dispensational Theology contains all the necessary elements of a valid philosophy of history. “Dispensationalism, [which] can be defined very simply as a system of theology which attempts to develop the Bible’s philosophy of history on the basis of the sovereign rule of God, represents the whole of Scripture and history as being covered by several dispensations of God’s rule” (Showers, p. 27).

“The essence of dispensationalism … is the distinction between Israel and the church. This grows out of the dispensationalist’s consistent employment of normal or plain or historical-grammatical interpretation, and it reflects an understanding of the basic purposes of God in all His dealings with mankind as that of glorifying Himself through salvation and other purposes as well” (Ryrie, p. 41).

Although Dispensationalism was not developed as a scheme in a systematic fashion until the 17th century, early church leaders did recognize some of the biblical principles basic to Dispensational Theology. The word from which dispensation is translated, oikonomia, appears nine times in the New Testament. Only once is it translated dispensation. It refers to a responsible office or ministry entrusted to one’s care by a higher authority in six passages and to a particular way of God’s administering His rule over the world in three other passages. “[T]he term dispensation as it relates to Dispensational Theology could be defined as a particular way of God’s administering His rule over the world as He progressively works out His purpose of world history” (Showers, pp. 27-30; see also, Ryrie, pp. 28-31). Another way to define “dispensation” is “a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God’s purpose” (Ryrie, p. 28). “Dispensationalism views the world as a household run by God” (Ibid., p. 29; see pp. 29-31 for definitions of “dispensation” by various scholars).

There are important characteristics and considerations concerning dispensations. There are three characteristics of each dispensation necessary to make it distinct from all other dispensations. First, each dispensation is characterized by a unique ruling factor or combination of ruling factors. “Second, it must involve a particular responsibility for man.” “Third, it must be characterized by divine revelation which had not been given before.” Three secondary characteristics are that each dispensation applies a test to man to see whether or not man will perfectly obey God’s rule, each dispensation demonstrates the failure of man to obey the particular rule of God of that dispensation, and each dispensation involves divine judgment because of man’s failure (Showers, pp. 30-31; see also, Ryrie, pp. 33-35).

Some important considerations are first, the different dispensations are different ways of God’s administering His rule over the world, not different ways of salvation. Since the fall, individuals have always been saved by grace through faith. The sacrifices of the Israelites in the Old Testament did not provide salvation. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin” (He. 10.4). “The Israelite’s offering implied confession of sin and of its due desert, death; and God ‘covered’ [or ‘passed over,’ ] his sin, in anticipation of Christ’s sacrifice, which did, finally, ‘put away’ the sins ‘done aforetime in the forbearance of God’” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Ex. 29.33, p. 110).

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God: Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Ro. 3.23-25. See 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Ro. 3.25, p. 1195.).

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9.15).

Second, “[a] dispensation is a particular way of God’s administering His rule, but an age is a particular period of time”—hence a dispensation is not an age of history. Third, a dispensation may involve God’s administering His rule over all mankind or over only one segment of mankind. “Fourth, a dispensation may continue or discontinue some ruling factors of previous dispensations, but it will have at least one new ruling factor never introduced before.” “Fifth, each new dispensation requires new revelation” (Showers, pp. 31-32).

Dispensations have characteristics. Primarily, dispensations are stewardships. All in a particular dispensational economy are stewards, although one man usually stands out. For example, Paul was used by God more than any other to reveal His grace. Nonetheless, all the apostles and every other believer are also stewards of God’s grace. All have a responsibility to respond to that grace. God will judge those who fail to do so (See Ryrie, pp. 56-57).

Most theologians recognize seven dispensations: “Innocence (Gen. 1.28); Conscience (Gen. 3.23); Human Government (Gen. 8.20); Promise (Gen. 12.1); Law (Ex. 19.8); Grace (John 1.17); Kingdom (Eph. 1.10)” (The 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, see the notes accompanying the quoted verses. See also, Showers pp. 33-49 and Ryrie, pp. 45-57 (Showers and Ryrie call the Dispensation of Law the Dispensation of Mosaic Law and the Dispensation of Kingdom the Dispensation of the Millennium; Ryrie calls the Dispensation of Human Government the Dispensation of Civil Government.)).

In each dispensation, God used or uses a ruling factor to govern man. Man failed or will fail in every dispensation, even in the last dispensation in which Christ Himself will rule over a perfect government and exceptional conditions. Man’s failure in that dispensation will bring God’s judgment. Those who rebel outwardly during that time will be executed (See, Is. 11.3-4; 29.20-21; Je. 31.29-30), and “God will crush the huge revolt which will take place immediately after the seventh dispensation sending fire to destroy the human rebels and casting Satan into the lake of fire for everlasting torment (Rev. 20:9-10)” (Showers, pp. 33-49).

Dispensational Theology recognizes distinctions of things which differ in history by asserting that distinctions are the result of God’s administering His rule in different ways at different periods of history. “There is no interpreter of the Bible who does not recognize the need for certain basic distinctions in the Scriptures” (Ryrie, p. 16). The Covenant Theologian also makes rather important dispensational distinctions even though he views them as related to the unifying and underlying Covenant of Grace. For example, Louis Berkhof, after rejecting the usual dispensational scheme of Bible distinctions, enumerates his own scheme of dispensations or administrations—the Old Testament dispensation and the New Testament dispensation. “However, within the Old Testament dispensation Berkhof lists four subdivisions, which although he terms them ‘stages in the revelation of the covenant of grace,’ are distinguishable enough to be listed.’” Thus, he recognizes five dispensations—four in the Old Testament and the New Testament dispensation (Ibid., citing Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1941), pp. 293-301).

“[T]he way in which the two systems meet [the] requirements [for a valid philosophy of history] affirms that dispensationalism is the more valid and helpful system” (Ibid., p. 17). First, Dispensationalists find the goal of history in the establishment of the millennial kingdom on earth, an optimistic view which insists that the glory of the sovereign God must be seen in the present heavens and earth. According to Dispensational Theology, all history moves toward the ultimate goal for God to glorify Himself by demonstrating that He alone is the sovereign God. Throughout Scripture, God is glorified. The First of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me,” an absolute, rock-hard rule, indicates that God wants to be glorified. Everything is seen in the Bible as being for His glory (See Showers pp. 50-51 for an excellent overview of Scripture that substantiates this point.). The successive dispensations glorify God by (1) demonstrating that God is sovereign throughout history despite Satan’s attempts to overthrow God’s rule and man’s rebellion against God since God can “hold man responsible to obey His methods of administering His rule and can judge man for his” disobedience; (2) “displaying the disorder and tragedy which result from the rejection of God’s rule;” and (3) by “progressively [moving] history toward the fulfillment of its God-intended climax” (Showers, pp. 50-51).

On the other hand, the Covenant Theologian seems pessimistic and sees the present struggle between good and evil terminated by the beginning of eternity at which point there will come catastrophe and divine judgment (Ryrie, pp. 17-18 citing Alva J. McClain, “A Premillennial Philosophy of History,” Bibliotheca Sacra 113 (April 1956): 113-14).

Second, in Covenant Theology, the unifying principle for the philosophy of history is the Covenant of Grace, a soteriological principle. Dispensational Theology has a unifying principle—the sovereign rule of God—which “ties the distinctions and progressive stages of revelation together and directs them toward the fulfillment of purpose in history” (Showers, p. 52). Dispensational Theology recognizes that the redemption of the elect plus many other programs are all parts of God’s purpose for history.

“In dispensationalism the [unifying] principle is theological or eschatological or doxological, for the differing dispensations reveal the glory of God as He manifests His character in the differing stewardships, which culminate in history with the millennial glory. This is not to say that dispensationalism fails to give salvation its proper place in the purpose of God…. If the goal of history is the earthly Millennium and if the glory of God will be manifest at that time in the personal presence of Christ in a way hitherto unknown, then the unifying principle of dispensationalism may be said to be eschatological (if viewed from the goal toward which we are moving) or theological (if viewed from the self-revelation of God in every dispensation) or doxological (if viewed from the perspective of the overall manifestation of the glory of God)” (Ryrie, pp. 17-18; see also, Showers, p. 53).

Third, Dispensationalism gives a proper place to the idea of development, whereas Covenant Theology does not. In Covenant Theology in practice there is extreme rigidity even though Covenant Theology does include in its system different modes of administration of the Covenant of Grace, and although those modes would give an appearance of an idea of progressiveness in revelation. Dispensational Theology states that each new dispensation requires a new revelation, thereby supplying the element of a proper concept of the progress of revelation. According to Dispensationalism, under different economies, God gives new revelation which is increasingly progressive in scope. The similarities in different dispensations are part of a progression of development by God rather than

  • “a result of employing the unifying principle of the covenant of grace…. Only dispensationalism can cause historical events and successions to be seen in their own light and not to be reflected in the artificial light of an overall covenant.
  • “Thus a correct philosophy of history with its requirements of a proper goal, a proper unifying principle, and a proper concept of progress is best satisfied by the dispensational system. Like the need for biblical distinctions, the proper concept of the philosophy of history leads to dispensationalism” (Ryrie, p. 19).

Three factors are indispensable to Dispensational Theology.

  1. First, Dispensational Theology recognizes the distinction between the nation Israel and the Church. Covenant Theology is convinced that Israel and the church are essentially the same. “The theological liberal, no matter how much he speaks of the Judaistic background of Christianity, recognizes that Christianity is different from Judaism” (Ryrie, p. 16; Showers, p. 52).
  2. Second, Dispensational Theology, unlike Covenant Theology, uses a single hermeneutic or method of interpreting Scripture—the historical-grammatical method. “If plain or normal interpretation is the only valid hermeneutical principle and if it is consistently applied, it will cause one to be a dispensationalist” (Ryrie, p. 16, see also, Showers, p. 53). “Covenant Theologians are well known for their use of nonliteral interpretation, especially when interpreting prophecy, and they are equally well known for their amillennialism, which is only the natural outcome of such a hermeneutic” (Ryrie, p. 20; Showers, p. 53).  Thus, the 144,000 of Revelation 7 cannot refer “to literal Israel, but the spiritual Israel, or the church, [etc.]” (Ryrie, p. 20, citing George E. Ladd, The Blessed Hope (Grand Rapids: Eardmans, 1956), 126).
  3. Third, Dispensational Theology recognizes that the ultimate purpose of history is the glory of God through the demonstration that He alone is the sovereign God, unlike Covenant Theology which advocates that the ultimate purpose of history is the glory of God through the redemption of the elect. “[A]lthough Dispensational Theology recognizes that the redemption of elect human beings is a very important part of God’s purpose for history, it is convinced that it is only one part of that purpose.” God is working out many other programs in addition to the program of redeeming people, all of which must be contributing something to the ultimate purpose of history (Showers, pp. 52-53).

Covenant Theology, “a system of theology which attempts to develop the Bible’s philosophy of history on the basis of two or three covenants,” “represents the whole of Scripture and history as being covered by those two or three covenants.” Covenant Theology began as a system in the 16th or 17th century and was introduced into America primarily through the Puritans (Ibid., pp. 7-8; see also, Ryrie, pp. 183-184).

This chapter will not examine Covenant Theology in detail, but some explanation is necessary. Some information will repeat some of the concepts discussed supra. This book is primarily concerned with Covenant Theology, as practiced in the American colonies by established churches (more on this in Section IV), and the resulting unbiblical practices including persecution of dissenters. The two or three covenants involved are called the Covenant of Redemption, the Covenant of Works, and the Covenant of Grace. One version of Covenant Theology combines the Covenant of Redemption with the Covenant of Grace. Covenant Theology teaches that God established the Covenant of Redemption in eternity past when God determined to provide redemption during the course of history for the elect. This Covenant placed requirements on the Lord Jesus Christ. God the Father gave the Son the responsibility of paying for the sin of Adam and His elect (those the Father had given Him). He could do that by keeping the law thereby assuring eternal life for His children (See, e.g., Showers, p. 9).

According to Covenant Theology, the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace came after God created man. These covenants are deduced by Covenant Theologians and are not specified in Scripture. The Covenant of Works was established between the creation and fall of man. It required “implicit and perfect obedience of Adam” (Ibid., p. 10; see also, Ryrie, pp. 188-189). Adam broke the Covenant of Works after which God established the Covenant of Grace.

The Covenant of Grace has been defined as “that gracious agreement between the offended God and the offending but elect sinner, in which God promises salvation through faith in Christ, and the sinner accepts this believingly, promising a life of faith and obedience” (Showers, pp. 10-11; see also, Ryrie, p. 184 citing Berkhof, p. 277)  God is the first party to the covenant, and, depending upon the theologian, the second party is the sinner, the elect, or the elect sinner in Christ. Some people who never become regenerate are included in the Covenant of Grace since it exists as both ‘a communion of life’ experienced by only the regenerate and as a ‘purely legal relationship’ experienced by both believers and their children. The children of believers experience the Covenant of Grace as a legal relationship in four ways: They are in the Covenant (1) “as far as their responsibility [to repent and believe] is concerned;” (2) “in the sense that they may lay claim to the promises which God gave when He established His covenant with believers and their seed;” (3) “in the sense that they are subject to the ministrations of the covenant;” and (4) “as far as the common covenant blessings are concerned.” A person who is a child of the regenerate is regarded as a member of the covenant even if he does not enter into the communion of life aspect through a confession of faith (Showers, pp. 11-13).  As one Puritan preacher, in an attempt to remove objections of some against partaking of the Lord’s Supper because of fears of not being born again, preached in order to persuade them:

“The children of those who are members of the visible church are, by the constitution of God, from their first coming into existence, members of his kingdom in common with their parents. So it was under the Jewish dispensation; and so it is now, [under the Christian] if there is any validity in one of the principal arguments, by which we vindicate our practice, in baptizing the infants of those who are members of Christ’s church” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 171).

According to Covenant Theology, the main promise God made in the Covenant of Grace was: “I will … be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee (Ge. 17.7);” and “includes the following promises: temporal blessings, justification, adoption, eternal life, the Spirit of God with His many ministries, and final glorification” (Showers, p. 14, citing Berkhof, p. 277). Establishment of religion in Christianity depends upon this covenant. Isaac Backus taught, “All establishments of worship by human laws, that ever were erected under the Christian name, were built upon calling the covenant in Gen. xvii the covenant of grace.”

Mr. Backus goes on to point out that “Those who have seen the nature of original sin, cannot tell how to keep up the idea of children’s being born in the covenant of grace, without some regard to grace in their parents. And in the same chapter where the unbelieving consort is said to be sanctified by the believer, a widow is required to marry only in the Lord….” [He then refers to a parable wherein to make his point the author thereof describes a church which advised a member to marry a certain woman of grace in the church rather than a woman he loves who is not of grace. Of the woman of grace, the church says:]

  • “As to some trifles, which a carnal man would object to, it becomes you as a spiritual man, to make no objection. It is true, she is of a mean family, and a very weak understanding; she is peevish and fretful to the highest degree; her shape is semicircular; she is what the world calls monstrous ugly; every feature is adapted to mortify carnal desires, which is much better than to have them gratified; she is the queen of sluts, and without any polite education. But she has grace, saving grace; she is regenerated; let your grace wed with hers, and a sweet bride she will be. Moreover, she is past the flower of her age, and we suppose need so requires.”
  • Backus goes on to say that this parable can be applied to no church on earth, but says “[H]ow mean and spiteful it is to treat the Word Grace [in the manner treated by Covenant Theologians]! Affixing the word to the covenant of circumcision, where God never put it, is the source of [a difficulty of a church at Stockbridge where to be sanctified by the believer, a widow is required to marry only in the Lord]”. (Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 2, pp. 238-241.)

Most Covenant Theologians have divided postfall history into two dispensations, the Mosaic dispensation sometimes called the “Old Covenant,” and the Christian dispensation, usually called the “New Covenant;” and they claim that the Covenant of Grace, although administration of that covenant differed between the dispensations, exists throughout these dispensations. “[E]ach dispensation or covenant named in the Bible is simply another stage of the progressive revelation of the nature of the Covenant of Grace” (Showers, pp. 14-16, citing Berkhof, pp. 282-283 and Ernest Frederick Kevan, “Dispensation,” in Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, editor-in-chief, Everett F. Harrison (Grand Rapids; Baker Book House, 1960), p. 168).

Covenant Theology has both commendable and problem features. It is commendable in that it emphasizes the grace of God, the redemptive work of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith, recognizes Jesus Christ as the central figure of world history, and has exhibited a commendable motive in that it has made an honest attempt to be faithful to the Scriptures while expositing the biblical philosophy of history (Showers, p. 19).

On the other hand, Covenant Theology has many problems. Many of them are pointed out in this chapter as well as throughout this book. Several significant shortcomings of Covenant Theology follow, repeating some already discussed supra:

  1. First its “ultimate goal of history[, also discussed supra, the Glory of God through the redemption of the elect,] is too narrow….
  2. Second, Covenant Theology denies or weakens some of the distinctions which are in the Bible by insisting that distinctions are simply different phases of the same Covenant of Grace…. In addition, Covenant theology denies the existence of distinctive gospels in the Bible…. Covenant Theology insists that there is no essential distinction between the Mosaic Covenant (the Law) and the New Covenant…. Covenant theology also denies the distinction between the nation of Israel and the Church.…
  3. Third, Covenant Theology is mistaken when it teaches that each of the biblical covenants is a continuation and newer phase of the Covenant of Grace….
  4. Fourth, Covenant Theology’s unifying principle is too limited or narrow. [First, Covenant Theology is too limited in that it unifies history through the Covenant of Grace from either the fall of man or the time of Abraham. It is too narrow because it deals only with God’s redemption of the elect, and it does not unify the program of redemption with all God’s other programs.] Second, … it does not unify prefall history with postfall history, which a valid exposition of the biblical philosophy of history must do….
  5. Fifth, in order to make its system work, Covenant Theology must employ a double hermeneutic (a double system of interpretation)…” (Ibid., pp. 19-25 citing Berkof, pp. 298, 300; Bernhard W. Anderson, “The New Covenant and The Old,” in The Old Testament and Christian Faith, ed. by Bernard W. Anderson (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969), p. 232; and Johannes Behm, “kainos,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. III, ed. by Gerhard Kittel, trans. and ed. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1965, pp. 447, 448, 449. See Showers for a more detailed explanation of the deficiencies listed.).

According to the Covenant Theologian, “the idea of dual covenants functioned as a warning against reliance on good works for salvation.” The Covenant of Works required obedience for salvation. According to the Covenant of Grace one could only be saved by faith in Christ (E. Brooks Holifield, Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Sheridan Books, 2003), p. 40).

Yet, the Covenant of Works remained in effect.

“This meant, first, that New Englanders whom God had not yet called effectually into salvation remained entirely under a covenant of works and subject to its moral restraint. It meant also, according to Cotton, that the burden of moral expectation should drive the sensitive conscience to Christ. It was ‘the usuall manner of God to give a Covenant of Grace by leading men first into a Covenant of works.’ Living under the covenant of works, Shepard explained, they would discover their sinfulness, and their ‘terrors, and fears, and hopes’ would turn them to Christ. And it meant, third, that even Christians safely within the covenant of grace remained subject to the moral substance of the first covenant. Abolished as a ‘covenant of life,’ Shepard said, the law still remained a ‘Rule of Life.’ These were the traditional three uses of the law in Reformed theology; covenantal language provided a lively way to restate them” (Ibid.).

Covenant Theologians teach that God’s commands are “too severe even for Adam in innocency, and that grace[, through the covenant of circumcision and its successor, baptism,] gives an exemption from that severity,” under the Covenant of Grace.

Covenant Theology, which does not recognize or correctly analyze the roles of the Old and New Covenants, is at odds with a correct interpretation of the Bible on this issue. Isaac Backus explained:

“[The law is holy, just, and good]; it [is] spiritual; but [man] a carnal slave to sin, instead of having such high dignity and liberty as he before imagined he had…. A false imagination of good in the forbidden fruit, drew our first parents into rebellion against God; and such imaginations are the only source of sin in all their children. James i. 14, 15. Good is still their pursuit, but they have lost the knowledge of who can give it, or of what it is; but the regenerate soul knows both, and this is the precise difference between them. Psalm iv. 6, 7. Who does not know that debtors and criminals are not fit judges in their own causes? [Y]et that is the case with all reasoners against the truth and perfection of God’s written word…. And to hear many speaking evil of things they know not, but what they know naturally as brute beasts, and in those things to corrupt themselves; to see them tread down the good pastures, and foul the deep waters, and thrust others with side and shoulder, serves to confirm believers in the truth of revelation, and in the hope of a speedy deliverance from such evil beasts. Jude 10. Ezek. xxxiv. 18, 25” (Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 2, p. 254).

To show that God has “disannulled the national covenant which he made with Abraham,” Backus offered the following insights:

  1. “First, Abraham had no right to circumcise any stranger, until he had bought him as a servant for money. Gen. xvii. 12, 13. But God says to his children, Ye are bought with a price, be not ye the servants of men. I Cor. vii. 23. And he says to his ministers, Feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood. Acts xx. 28. He also says, Ye have sold yourselves for nought, and ye shall be redeemed without money. And this is the gospel of peace. Is. lii. 3, 7; Rom. x. 15. Thus do the apostles explain the prophets.
  2. Secondly, The children of Israel had no right to receive strangers into the church by households, until the day in which they came out of Egypt, when the Passover was instituted. And then God said, Every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. Exod. xii. 44—48. Circumcision and the Passover were as binding upon servants as children; and both ordinances pointed to the blood of Christ, which he was to shed for his people. And in reference to that, God said, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. Jer. xxxi. 31, 32. And an inspired apostle says, In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.  Heb. viii. 7—13; x. 9.  And can old and new, first and second, mean but one covenant? Surely no.
  3. Thirdly, Circumcision is the name which God gave to his covenant with Abraham. Acts vii. 8. And though Jews and Mahometans are still zealous for it, yet all Christians allow that circumcision is repealed. But after the apostolic age, men took away the name which God gave to that covenant, and added the name Grace to it; and they held that dominion is founded in grace. And from thence the nations have made merchandise of all the vanities of time, and of slaves and souls of men. But the plagues of Babylon will come upon all men who add to the word of God, and take away from the words of his book, if they refuse to come out of that practice. Rev. xviii. 4—13; xxii. 18, 19. And there is not a word in all the Bible for bringing any child to baptism without his own profession of faith in Christ, nor for forcing any man to support any religious minister; and all national churches are built upon these two superstitions.
  4. Fourthly, Circumcision was the shedding of human blood; and when Abraham received it, it was a seal of righteousness of the faith which he before had in Christ, in whom believers are justified by his blood. Rom. iv. 11, 23; v. 9; Gal. iii. 16; Gen. xv. 6; xvii. 24. It was a seal to him; but neither circumcision nor baptism are ever called seals to any other person in the Bible. But God says to true believers in Christ, In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. And he also says, Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Eph. i. 13; iv. 30. After believing in Christ, the Holy Spirit seals the merits of his death, and the promises of his grace to the soul. And all believers from the beginning, looked through the bloody ordinances which God appointed, to the blood of Christ for justification. And after the beast arose out of the bottomless pit, God said, All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Rev. xiii. 8. Force and cruelty is the general character of the beast; but Jesus, who is the root and offspring of David, will cause all evil beasts to cease out of the land. Ezek. xxxiv. 4, 25; Rev. xxii. 16.
  5. Fifthly, the believing Jews were suffered to go on in circumcision for a number of years past the death of Christ, and then God said to them, If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. …. Whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace. Gal. v.2—4. So far was the covenant of circumcision from being the covenant of grace. That bloody sign not only pointed to the death of Christ, but also to the death of all true believers in him. Therefore Paul says, I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. … The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts. Gal. ii. 19, 20; v. 22-24. Adam and Christ are the only two public heads of mankind, as to the great affairs of the soul and eternity. For as by one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous. Rom. v. 19. For parents to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, is of infinite importance; but we can find no warrant for any to bring them to baptism without a personal profession of faith in Christ….
    “God said of Abraham, I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. Gen. xviii. 19. He will and They shall, was the language of God’s covenant with Abraham; but I will, and They shall, is the language of the new covenant, since the death of Christ. Heb. viii. 10; x. 9. It was the will of God that the visible church should continue in the line of Abraham’s posterity, until Christ came and died for his people, and then the holy spirit was given, and believing Jews and Gentiles were united in his church. And they never were called Christians, until believing Gentiles were received into the church without circumcision….
    “[T]he holding that the children of believers are born into the covenant of grace, or that baptism can bring them into it, without their own knowledge or choice, is such a confounding of grace and works together as holds multitudes in blindness and bondage.” (Ibid., pp. 364-366, 371-372, 373).

We should look at the Dispensation of Grace to find the duties of believers today.

Who are the true seed of Abraham? Mr. Backus again correctly divided the Word of Truth in answering this question:

“Circumcision was only for males, but females are equally the subjects of baptism, which proves an essential change of the covenant. And our Lord gave the gospel commission to the eleven, who were all born again; and he said to them, Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy ghost; teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matt. xxviii. 16—20. This promise is only to his children, in the way of obedience to all his commandments. And as the covenant of circumcision gave Israel a right to buy the heathen for servants, and circumcision was only for the males, the gospel says to believers, Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s then ye are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal. iii.26—29. Abraham was an eminent type of Christ, and none are his spiritual seed but believers in Christ.” (Ibid., pp. 370-371).

Dispensationalism correctly explains the Covenants of Law and Grace. God made a covenant with the children of Israel called the Mosaic Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant of Law applied to an earthly people.

“The Mosaic Covenant (1) given to Israel (2) in three divisions, each essential to the others, and together forming the Mosaic Covenant, viz.: the Commandments, expressing the righteous will of God (Ex. 20.1-26; the ‘judgments,’ governing the social life of Israel (Ex. 21.1-24.11); and the ‘ordinances,’ governing the religious life of Israel (Ex. 24.12-31.18). These three elements form ‘the law,’ as that phrase is generically used in the New Testament (e.g. Mt. 5.17, 18). The Commandments and the ordinances formed one religious system. The Commandments were a ‘ministry of condemnation’ and of ‘death’ (2 Cor. 3.7-9); the ordinances gave, in the high priest, a representative of the people with Jehovah; and in the sacrifices a ‘cover’ (see ‘Atonement,’ Lev. 16.6 note) for their sins in anticipation of the Cross (Heb. 5.1-3; 9.6-9; Rom. 3.25, 26). The Christian is not under the conditional Mosaic Covenant of works, the law, but under the unconditional New Covenant of grace (Rom. 3.21-27; 6.14, 15; Gal. 2.16, 3.10-14, 16-18, 24-26; 4.21-31; Heb. 10.11-17).” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Ex. 20.4, p. 95).

Christ was the mediator of a better covenant, called the New Covenant “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (He. 8.6. He.8.1-5 speaks of the Mosaic Covenant of Law).

“The New Covenant, Summary:

(1) “‘Better’ than the Mosaic Covenant, not morally, but efficaciously [or ‘as of having the power to produce the desired effect’] (Heb. 7.19 [‘For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.’]; Rom. 8.3-4 [‘For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’]).
(2)  “Established on ‘better’ (i.e., unconditional) promises. In the Mosaic Covenant God said, ‘If ye will’ (Ex. 19.5-6a [‘Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine; And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.’]); in the New Covenant, He says, ‘I will’ (Heb. 8.10, 12-13 [‘By the which we are all sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.’]).
(3)  “Under the Mosaic Covenant obedience sprang from fear (Heb. 2.2 [‘For if by the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward’]; 12.25-27 [‘See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.’]); under the New, from a willing heart and mind ([Heb. 8.]9-10 [‘Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:’]).
(4) “The New Covenant secures the personal revelation of the Lord to every believer (Heb. 8.11 [‘And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.’]);
(5) “the complete oblivion of sins ([Heb. 8.]12 [‘For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins, and their iniquities will I remember no more’]; Heb. 10.17 [‘And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.’]; cf. Heb. 10.3 [‘But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.’]);
(6)  “rests upon an accomplished redemption (Mt. 26.27, 28 [‘And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’]; 1 Cor. 11.25 [‘After the manner also he took the cup, when he supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me’]; Heb. 9.11, 12, 18-23 [‘But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people. Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should by purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.’]);
(7) “and secures the perpetuity, future conversion, and blessing of Israel (Jer. 31.31-40 [‘Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath. And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.]; see also ‘Kingdom (O.T.),’ and 2 Sam. 7.8-17). The New Covenant is the eighth, thus speaking of resurrection and of eternal completeness.” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to He. 8.8, p.1297).

“In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (He. 8.12).

Covenant Theology has had clear consequences. Roger Williams pointed out, concerning the religious persecution based upon Covenant Theology: “He [that is, the established churches] that kills and he [those defined as heretics by the established churches] that is killed, they both cry out, ‘It is for God, and for their conscience” (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. 33, First published in 1644.). Only one side can be right, and the Bible shows that side to be the persecuted Baptists. Both protestants and papists, Williams continued, “pretend they have spoke with Moses and the prophets, who all, say they, before Christ came, allowed such holy persecutions [and] holy wars against the enemies of holy church” (Ibid., p. 34).

It is impossible for a Gentile nation prior to the return of Christ to operate as a true theocracy. As seen in Section I, Chapter 6 of God Betrayed (which is published on this website in an edited version), a theocracy is a “Government of a state by the immediate direction of God; or the state thus governed.” All alleged “Christian” theocracies (church over state, state over church, or a combination of church and state; called ecclesiocracies by the author) are only poor imitators of the one true God-ordained theocracy in Israel. God never told the church to work with the state, over the state, or under the state.

Israel, the only theocracy which has ever existed, operated as a theocracy only until the Israelites rejected God and demanded a king, and God acted on their request and gave them King Saul. In the theocracy, all ten of the commandments were enforced. While operating as a theocracy, Israel was directly under God, and God initially spoke directly to the leaders of the nation of Israel. After God allowed Israel, at Israel’s request, to be ruled by a king, the Jewish religion and the civil government no longer worked together, although God spoke to the kings of Israel through his chosen prophets.

God no longer speaks directly to leaders of civil government, to the leaders of church government, or to others. He speaks to believers, led by the Holy Spirit, through His Word, the Bible. This is consistent with the fact that He only ordained one theocracy, Israel, prior to the second return of Christ. Yet Covenant Theology united church and state, with the church taking the place of God in speaking directly to the civil government. As a result, the “church” used the strong arm of the state to enforce its own particular brand of religion, or the state itself enforced its preferred religion. The only way to justify such a union is to use a false interpretation of Scripture, an interpretation which, since it is based upon Satan’s principles, must have been developed by Satan himself and implemented either by his children or by children of God who were not walking in the spirit according to knowledge.

The most noticeable and atrocious consequence of all church-state and state-church unions has been the confiscation of property, dissemination of lies about “heretics” as defined by the state-church, and other persecutions such as the beating, torture, imprisonment, and killing of untold millions of people who have dissented from the views of the state-church. The ultimate result of church-state or state-church alliances is always the same—the alliance of church and state called for by a perverted interpretation of Scripture forces others to profess allegiance to the doctrines of the official church under penalty of persecution, thereby attempting to stamp out those who practice free will. The state-church or church-state enforces its own peculiar doctrines including all of the Ten Commandments among which are the first four commandments which deal with man’s relationship to God. In effect, it requires many to be dishonest with both man and God. Since no one can be forced to choose to believe a particular religious belief in their heart, a lot of religious hypocrites are thereby created.

As history shows, the official corrupted “church” was vile to the core. The reformers became especially aware of the corruption within the Roman “church.” Corruption is inevitable when church and state are intermixed.

To quote a great Bible teacher: “The church that sets out to spiritualize the world will soon find that the world will secularize the church. When wheat and tares compromise, it is the wheat that suffers. Light and darkness, right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error are incompatibles, and when they compromise it is the light, the right, the good, and the truth that are damaged” (W. Graham Scroggie, born 1877, twelve times the Bible teacher at the famous Keswick, England conference, They Knew Their God, Vol. 5, 194 cited in The Berean Call, February 2006, p. 5, available at www.thebereancall.org. Separation is a Biblical principle that runs throughout scripture—Pastor Hank Thompson gave a tremendous sermon on “Separation” on Sunday evening,February 12, 2006. Ask for notes on that sermon.).

As Pastor Hank Thompson, has preached: “Holy means set apart for God.  You cannot bring that which is holy and unholy together without making the holy things unholy. Holy things combined with unholy things do not make the unholy holy. It always makes the holy unholy. Being around someone who is sick may make a well person sick. Being around a well person won’t make a sick person well. If you are grounded and touch the ground and a power line at the same time, you are cooked. If you try to touch God and touch the world, you will be corrupted.” (“Separation.” Sermon preached at Capitol City Baptist Church in Austin, Texas by Pastor Hank Thompson,February 12, 2006).

The Holy Bible, the basic source for all truth proclaims: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Co. 6.14-18. The doctrine of separation is taught extensively in the Word of God.).

Just as the union of church and state corrupted the Roman “church” and society, it also corrupted the established Protestant churches and the nations which had established Protestant churches.

The church proceeded under the New Covenant, whereas the Jewish theocracy operated under the Mosaic covenant. Isaac Backus, in pointing out that Jesus did away with the Old Testament Covenant of Law, wrote:

“When our Savior came, he fulfilled the law, both moral and ceremonial, and abolished those hereditary distinctions among mankind. But in the centuries following, deceitful philosophy took away the name which God has given to that covenant, (Acts vii.8) [the covenant of circumcision] and added the name Grace to it; from whence came the doctrine, that dominion is founded in grace. And although this latter name has been exploded by many, yet the root of it has been tenaciously held fast and taught in all colleges and superior places of learning, as far as Christianity has extended, until the present time; whereby natural affection, education, temporal interest and self-righteousness, the strongest prejudices in the world, have all conspired to bind people in that way, and to bar their minds against equal liberty and believer’s baptism.” (Isaac Backus, An Abridgement to the Church History of New England (Boston: Harvard University, 1804; reprinted. 1935), p. 136. cited in Beller, America in Crimson Red…, p. 446).

Scriptures, other than those already cited to show that the church and state are not to wed or to enter into any kind of relationship, especially for persecution of those who do not submit to the official religion, teach that the church is not to enforce spiritual laws in society in general, even with the help of civil government. The Lord commanded that men not remove the tares “lest [they] root up also the wheat [the children of the kingdom]” (Mt. 13.24-30, 37-43). Instead, they are to be permitted to grow together until the harvest when the Lord shall send forth his angels to gather the tares and cast them into a furnace of fire (Ibid.). The Lord commanded His disciples to leave the Pharisees, whom He referred to as the “blind leading the blind,” alone because “every plant, which [His] heavenly father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Mt. 15.13-14). He told his disciples: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall in the ditch” (Mt. 15.14).

As Roger Williams noted, “This sentence against [the blind Pharisee], the Lord Jesus only pronounceth in his church, his spiritual judicature, and executes this sentence in part at present, and hereafter to all eternity. Such a sentence no civil judge can pass, such a death no civil sword can inflict” (Williams and Underhill, p. 97).

Other relevant scriptures dealing with the actions of a Christian against his enemies, those who curse, hate, despitefully use, persecute and disagree with him include:

  • “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so” (Mt. 5.44-47)?
  • The Lord said to his disciples, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in they synagogues; [a]nd ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles” (Mt. 10.16-18). What sheep ever attacked a wolf or anything else?
  • “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward” (Mk. 9.38. See also Lu. 9.49-50).
  • The Lord Jesus said to his disciples, James and John, who desired to command fire down from heaven to devour Samaritans who would not receive Him, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye be of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Lu. 9.55-56).
  • “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life of the sheep” (Jn. 10.10-11).
  • “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [i]n meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [a]nd they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Ti. 2.24-26).

The reason for not attempting to remove heretics, the tares, from the world seems to be, as Roger Williams noted:

  • “because they who now are tares, may hereafter become wheat; they who are now blind, may hereafter see; they that now resist him may hereafter receive him; that that are now in the devil’s snare, in adverseness to the truth, may hereafter come to repentance; they that are now blasphemers and persecutors, as Paul was, may in time become faithful as he; they that are now idolaters, as the Corinthians once were, 1 Cor. vi. 9, may hereafter become true worshippers as they; they that are now no people of God, nor under mercy, as the saints sometimes were 1 Pet. ii. 10, may hereafter become the people of God, and obtain mercy, as they.
  • “Some come not till the eleventh hour, Matt. xx. 6: if those that come not till the last hour should be destroyed, because they come not at the first, then should they never come, but be prevented” (Williams and Underhill, pp. 11-12).

Persecution of “heretics” is contrary to many New Testament teachings. True believers were promised that they would be persecuted, and never were told to persecute anyone. Jesus told the disciples that “the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Jn. 16.2. This was spoken directly to the apostles, but the Bible and history show that it is applicable to all believers who have been persecuted or will be persecuted for Christ’s sake. Christ is actually speaking to all who are not of the world, but are the chosen of God. See, e.g., Jn. 15.).

The promises to the Jew in the Old Testament were significantly different than the promises to the Christian in the New Testament. No greater example can be cited than the contrast between the Old Testament promises that Israel would prosper and be blessed materially if they would keep God’s commandments and statutes or that they would be judged if they failed to do so (See, e.g., Ex. 15.26; 19.5-8; 24.3, 7; 34.18-35.3; Le. 18.3-20.27; 20.22-23; 26 (read in conjunction with De. 28-30); De. 4-11; 12.30-31; 28-30; 28.1-68; I S. 12.1-5; 1 K. 6.12-13; 9.1-9; 2 Chr. 7.12-22; 15.1-7; etc.) and the New Testament promise to Christians that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3.12).

The church and state wed at the invitation of the Roman Emperor Constantine early in the fourth century. Some churches married the state and became the officially recognized “church.” After that unholy union, the established Roman Catholic “church,” working hand in hand with the state, persecuted believers. The persecution was continued by the Protestant churches which came out of Roman Catholicism, and finally was brought to America and our colonies by the Puritans, Anglicans, and others.

Throughout these teachings, Scripture and arguments are presented which refute Covenant Theology. Section I, which deals with government, explains that God, because of His covenants with Israel, will establish Israel in the land he has given them. Section II, which deals with the church, shows that Christ desires to be the only head of the church, that He loves the church and gave Himself for it, and that the church is the bride and wife of Christ. The distinct differences between the church and state, as will be shown in Chapter 4 infra, render the two mutually exclusive, operating in different spheres—the civil government or the state operates in the earthly sphere and the church operates in the spiritual realm (although application of spiritual principles affect earthly actions).

The Covenant Theology examined in this book cannot coexist with free will. As will be shown in Section IV, the established churches in almost all the American colonies advocated either a church-state or state-church, unions of church and state under which the strong arm of the state punished, sometimes by death, (execution of dissidents in the colonies was forbidden by England after four Quakers were hanged in Massachusetts as will be explained in Section IV) those the state-church labeled as “heretics.” Had the official churches prevailed, America would not have the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Thank God that Baptist dissenters led the fight that resulted in liberty of conscience guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Endnotes

EN1 Why should believers, and especially pastors, be concerned about the area of church and state law? Because only through knowledge can they avoid dishonoring the Husband/Bridegroom/Head of their local church body and thereby failing to achieve their God-given goal—glorifying God and pleasing Him.

These articles systematically examine the biblical doctrines of church, state, separation of church and state and the application of those doctrines in America. For believers and churches, the information presented is—according to God’s Word—of great importance to our Lord. By reading and studying each article using the Bible as the standard, a believer will discover that the biblical principles are correct as presented. By studying the historical and legal facts presented—without bias, prejudice, illicit motive, or an overriding opposing agenda which has a vested interest in maintaining a status quo due to loss of finances, support or something else—and examining those facts in light of biblical principle, a qualified believer (a believer who has the necessary biblical, historical, and legal qualifications and education) can understand that the conclusions are correct.

That said, understanding the biblical principles, relevant history, and legal principles and facts is, first, impossible for one who is not a born again believer who is walking in the Spirit, and, second, daunting for even the spirit filled follower of Christ. Years of honest, open minded study is required to achieve the correct knowledge and understanding of all facets of church and state law. First, one must interpret Scripture correctly (See 2 Ti. 2:15) as to the relevant topics. After mastering the biblical principles, one must then labor through the annals of history, and the intricacies of law. In order to be qualified to comment upon the law, one must have an extensive legal education. He must understand how to do legal research and how to reach correct legal conclusions. Legal commentary by a pseudo lawyer can sound good to the untrained, while he may be correctly understood as frivolous and unlearned and probably heretical by the educated believer.

This is not to say that a non-lawyer cannot understand the legal and historical aspects of spiritual matters. In fact, the author knows some pastors and other believers who, having already correctly divided the Word of Truth and determined to seek to please God in all matters, have open minds and who have eagerly sought truth in the historical and legal church and state law arena. He is working with such a young pastor at this very moment. He is a brilliant young man who had mastered the Scriptures and Baptist history before the author met him. He excels the author in those matters, as do some other pastors and believers known by the author. Unlike most pastors, he does not have the disadvantages of having gone to either a secular or ecclesiastical (Baptist or otherwise) institution of higher learning. Secular colleges and universities usually corrupt even the most devout child of God; and religious colleges, institutions, and seminaries generally (with few exceptions, one of which the author has personal knowledge of)—by either mixing an ample dose of humanism with whatever biblically correct teaching they dose out; or by having totally having abandoned truth—likewise usually corrupt their students to one degree or another.

On the other hand, the author isvexed by what he reads in some books and websites concerning church and state law; particularly by some vicious, unfounded attacks upon the Biblical Law Center Declaration of Trust by unqualified, biased assailants who are attempting to mislead believers and churches through incorrect biblical and legal analyses and personal attacks upon and outright lies about those with whom they disagree in such matters.

Being a believer alone, even a pastor, does not by itself qualify one to teach on church and state law. The author has been a believer and faithful member of independent Baptist churches since his salvation. He was called by God to go to law school for His glory and to please Him. As a result of that calling, he obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from one of the best law schools in the country and has practiced law for seventeen years. He has no motive for dishonesty. By design, he has never made a dime above expenses in his work in the church and state law arena. In fact, he has spent tens of thousands of dollars with total income of at most three to four thousand dollars in all the years he has worked in this area of law. Because of this he is beholden to no one and nothing but the truth and his Lord and Savior. Since becoming a lawyer, he has devoted untold thousands of hours in biblical, historical, and legal study and analysis of church and state law.

As always, he declares that if anyone can show him where he is in error, he will recant. Honest, loving believers have taught him much and caused him to modify some of his positions. He has also, in his continued studies, modified some of his conclusions and positions. However, he maintains his primary positions because neither he, through his continued studies, or others have shown him to be wrong about his basic church and state law principles and conclusions.

EN2. God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed): may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from Amazon by going to the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December, 2010


Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church”

Click here to listen to Jerald Finney’s audio teaching on the “Definition, organization, and purposes of a church”


Note. This written teaching revises what Jerald Finney originally wrote and taught in his audio teaching on the “Definition, organization, and purposes of a church.”


Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church8

The church, as such, is never mentioned in the Old Testament. The Old Testament includes, among other things:

  1. a history of man from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, the fall, the success of man when ruled by conscience, the ordination of human government, the establishment of nations and the rules for Gentile nations and the nation of Israel, the success of man under civil government and the fate of civil government and nations;
  2. God’s past, present, and future dealings with nations, especially Israel and Gentile nations as they relate to Israel, God’s chosen people until the Jewish nation/religion rejected Christ as recorded in the New Testament Gospels;
  3. various covenants established by God;
  4. God’s plan of salvation through grace;
  5. prophecies that go all the way to the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom.

As recorded in the New Testament, born-again believers are the people now chosen by God for His purposes and glory and have been since the nation Israel rejected Him. In the Old Testament, God’s light shined through an earthly organization, the nation Israel, including the trail that led to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, God’s light shines through a spiritual organism, the institution of the church which is comprised of local, autonomous, spiritual bodies. No organism which resembled the New Testament church was described in the Old Testament. Old Testament believers were told at times to assemble to worship God (See, e.g., De. 4.10), but nowhere were they described as the church is described in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit did not indwell all believers in Old Testament times. Since the conversion of Cornelius as recorded in Acts 10, He now indwells every believer at the moment of salvation.

Christ ordained the nations and civil government, and He ordained the church. “And I [Jesus Christ] say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16.18). Christ, through the epistles of Paul, develops the doctrine of the church. Through those epistles we know that the institution of the church is made up of local, autonomous, spiritual organisms, who are heavenly in calling, promise, and destiny. Through those epistles we know the nature, purpose, and form of organization of local churches and the right conduct of such bodies.

SeparationOfChurchAndStateThe author set out to understand what the Bible teaches about the issue of separation of church and state in America. It became necessary in that study to examine the biblical doctrines of government and church. In studying the issues of government, church, and separation of church and state, the author was then presented with the necessity of examining both Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology. Bible exposition, history, and law mandated this examination. Dispensational Theology literally interprets Scripture (with an understanding of figures of speech) whereas Covenant Theology allegorizes or spiritualizes much of Scripture. When investigating the biblical principles of church, state, separation of church and state and the American application of those principles, one meets the issue of Covenant versus Dispensational Theology head on. When one believes what the Bible says, he cannot accept the interpretations of various issues made by those religions that have imposed fallacious interpretations upon the Word of God. These matters will be examined in more detail in the teachings which follow.

3The author disagrees with Covenant Theologians in their interpretation of Scripture. The author does not accept the unbiblical definition of “church” given by Covenant Theologians: “The community of all true believers for all time” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan; Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), pp. 859-863 (differences between dispensationalism and Covenant Theology), p. 853 (the Covenant Theology definition of “Church”). See also the lessons which follow in this Section and in Section III.).

The terms “dispensationalism” and “dispensational theology” identify a particular way by which one divides the word of truth. This simplifies discussion just as does the use of the word “trinity.” However, to determine whether any biblical teaching is correct, one must study the Bible. One can, for example, explain the fate of Israel, Gentile nations, and the church without being called a “dispensationalist;” but he is in fact a dispensationalist by definition if he divides the word of God. Unfortunately, there are some “dispensationalists” who partially or totally falsely divide biblical teaching. A believer must, however, be careful to “study to shew [himself] approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Instead, for many reasons, some of which are discussed in Part One (Sections I, II, and III) of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is reproduced in edited form on this website, the author believes that the correct dispensational view of Scripture will, among other matters, make clear that:

  1. Hyper-dispensationalists divide the Word of God into too many small slices, thereby incorrectly expositing Scripture as to many issues and points. One example is offered here. Contrary to the teachings of some “dispensationalists,” all true believers in Christ after the fall, whether before or after His death and resurrection, are saved by repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the New Testament church is never mentioned in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, as in the New, God dealt with individuals on the basis of their faith or absence of faith in the coming Messiah. In Old Testament times, believers looked forward to the resurrection; but God had not yet instituted any organism which in any way resembled the church ordained by Christ as recorded in the New Testament. After the resurrection, believers look backward to the resurrection. In the Old Testament God also deals with nations, and much of the Old Testament tells of God’s past, present, and future dealings with nations, especially the nation Israel and Gentile nations as they relate to Israel. However, no organism which resembled the New Testament church was described in the Old Testament. Old Testament believers were told at times to assemble to worship God (See, e.g., De. 4.10), but nowhere were they described as the church is described in the New Testament. Therefore, one must not use Old Testament Scripture to teach, for example, on the position and role of the New Testament church pastor.
  2. 9Yes, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13.8); He has always loved mankind, His creation, so much that He has done everything possible to show man that the only way to Him, after the fall, was by grace through faith. Every person since the fall has is a lost sinner unless he repents toward God and places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone, to the point of salvation, is a sinner whose righteousness is as filthy rags. After salvation, a man still commits sin, but he does not practice sin without consequences as before. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Co. 5.17; see, for more on this, Repentance, the new creature, the new life, and changed behavior). Because of the nature and history of man and because God loves man and wishes every person to choose to come to Him, as the Bible explains, He has worked with mankind in various ways since the creation in order to test man and show him that man cannot earn his eternal life; that salvation is a free gift. Every man fails God’s tests and rejects God’s ways or rules which would only benefit man, thus demonstrating that one is saved by grace through faith. The main purpose of God’s tests are to bring men to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every man fails; God succeeds for the remnant who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. God worked with Adam and Eve before the fall in a special way: they were not saved by faith in Jesus Christ since they had not yet failed God in any way. However, after failing the one test God presented to them, God-instead of killing them instantly as they justly deserved—graciously spared mankind before his inevitable physical death and gave them a way to Him—faith in the coming seed. Thereafter, every time man has failed God’s tests. God—instead of destroying all human beings (except for the faithful remnant)—has lovingly demonstrated His great love for mankind in spite of man’s rejection of and rebellion against God and His Word.
  3. 2Every teaching on the Word of God—whether it be termed Dispensational Theology, Covenant Theology, or something else—should be carefully examined against Scripture as to its truth. For example, C. I. Scofield was a dispensationalist and his Commentaries on the Bible are very helpful in a serious study of the Word of God. However, he was wrong about many things in his footnotes, margin notes, and headnotes. Every believer is responsible to God to seek out the truth of the Bible. All resources one relies on in his study of God’s Word are to be tested by a careful study of the Word of God. Quotes from Scofield in these teachings indicates agreement unless otherwise indicated.

This author agrees, for the most part, with the writings of those dispensationalists which he has read. Fortunately, the Lord did not lead the author to the teachings of the fundamentally errouneous dispensationalists in his studies for the writings of his books and other writings. Yes, some so-called dispensationalists are wrong, according the Bible, in their teachings.  Pastor Mike Hoggard points out critical flaws of the false dispensationalists on Facebook at: “Dispensationalism, True Or False?” Does this mean that the correct dispensational approach to understanding Scripture is wrong? Absolutely, not. Sadly, some good men of God point at erroneous dispensationist teachers or teachings and use that error to totally discount dispensationalism. More on the author’s understanding of dispensatonism is to be found in the article, “Dispensational Theology Versus Covenant Theology.”

dispensations-7_02Simply put, the term dispensation as it relates to Dispensational Theology could be defined as a particular way of God’s administering His rule over the world as He progressively works out His purpose of world history. See “Dispensational versus Covenant Theology” for a more thorough definition and understanding of Dispensational Theology. Seven such dispensations are distinguished in Scripture:

  1. Innocency (Genesis 1.28).
  2. Conscience (Genesis 3.23).
  3. Human government (Genesis 8.20).
  4. Promise (Genesis 12.1).
  5. Law (Exodus 19.8).
  6. Grace (John 1.17).
  7. Kingdom (Ephesians 1.10).

1The author does not agree with Covenant Theologians in their allegorical teaching that the church has replaced Israel. Covenant Theologians believe that the church has replaced Israel, that God is finished with Israel and the Jews, and that God’s promises to and covenants with the nation Israel and selected rules for organization for the Jewish religion should be applied to the church (See Grudem, pp. 859-863). Covenant Theologians reach this false conclusion by allegorizing certain Scriptures. The author addresses this in Section I (reproduced with modifications and editions on this website. Click here to go to the webpage with links to Section I articles.) and Section III of God Betrayed (reproduced with modifications and editions on this website)Click here to go to the webpage with links to Section III articles.). Section IV of God Betrayed shows the anti-biblical consequences of the brand of Covenant Theology practiced in Europe and brought to America by established Protestant churches. (Click here to go to the webpage  with links to Section IV articles.).

UnionOfChurchAndState2The application to modern nations, and the attempt to make the application in America, of certain principles—including the principle of union of religion (or church) and state— regarding the Jewish religion and the relationship of religion to state in Old Testament Israel has had devastating consequences in the United States. Those theologians who would combine religion and state as in the pagan nations of antiquity, as with Israel in the theocracy, as with the established Catholic and Protestant churches who used the arm of the state to kill millions whom they designated as heretics, as with the religion of Islam, etc. have not mastered God’s lessons recorded in His Word and in the historical writings of man. Sadly, America is now overrun with false Catholic and Protestant religions who hate the biblical principle of separation of church and state (not separation of God and state) as enacted in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

To properly explain the issue of the relationship, if any, between church and state (separation of church and state), one must correctly understand what the Bible teaches about the government (covered in Section I of these studies) and church (this section, Section II). Section III will culminate this study as it examines the biblical principle of separation of church and state. Dispensational Theology correctly explains the biblical doctrine of separation of church and state. As is explained in Section III, Chapter or Lesson 4, the principles for church and state are so distinct that the two are mutually exclusive.

A New Testament church is made up of visible people who have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and who assemble as members of a local autonomous spiritual body. On the other hand, since one cannot see the spiritual condition of people’s hearts, in one sense a church is invisible. “We can see those who outwardly attend the church, and we can see outward evidences of inward spiritual change, but we cannot actually see into people’s hearts and view their spiritual state. Only God can do that…. [An] invisible church is the church as God sees it” (Grudem, p. 855; Alan Cairns, Dictionary of Theological Terms (Greenville, S.C.: Ambassador Emerald International, 2002), p. 90)[Bracketed material shows my modifications]. Therefore, one can be in a visible church, yet unregenerate, lost, and destined for hell; such a person is not really a part of the true church to which he belongs. He is a tare; he will not be at the marriage of the Lamb (see Re. 19.7-10), and he will not be a part of the “general assembly and church of the firstborn” (see He. 12.22-24). According to the Word of God, the future of the visible Church, except for a remnant, is apostasy.

Church members are not to be “fruit inspectors.” A church is authorized to remove a professed believer from fellowship only, and that for gross immorality in order to “deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (See 1 Co. 5).

Click the above image to go to some heretical Roman Catholic teaching on the issue.
Click the above image to go to some heretical Roman Catholic teaching on the issue.

Obviously, the Bible rejects the Roman Catholic position that the Roman Catholic “church” is the only true church or even a church as described in the New Testament. The Roman Catholic “church” was responsible for the persecution of untold millions of believers when that “church” had earthly authority. Catholicism justified the persecution by a false theology. Study of God’s Word, without brainwashing, a practice which the vast majority of Roman Catholic churches have traditionally condemned, reveals the fallacies of Roman Catholic theology. The author believes that, is spite of the apostate theology or the Catholic church, many Catholics today are probably saved, but ignorant. Otherwise, they would leave the harlot religious organization and join a Bible believing New Testament church. The Bible also rejects Protestant church theology which has also been responsible for the persecution and murder of those deemed to be heretics. Note. See http://joanandtherese.net/page/16/?title for a Catholic perspective of church and state.

9In the New Testament, the church is spoken of in two senses. In one sense, the Bible speaks of the institution of the Church, just as it speaks of the institution of marriage. As to the institution of the church, Jesus Christ promised, in speaking to Peter, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church” (Mt. 16.18). “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ep. 5.25; of course, Ephesians was written to the church at Ephesus, the teachings to be applied by all local churches, Scofield’s misguided headnote notwithstanding. The Bible does not agree with Scofield’s doctrine of what he terms the “true” church. True believers who know and follow the Lord will be part of the marriage of the Lamb (See Re. 19.7-10), at which point there will be only MarriageSupperOfTheLambone church or assembly of the saints. “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (He. 12:22-24). However, until the marriage of the lamb, the church, as spoken of in the Bible, is an earthly institution made up of local autonomous spiritual bodies.

In a second sense, the church is a local body of believers. In this sense, a church has a visible aspect—it is a church as church members see it. Only local autonomous assemblies of actual believers give place for the application of spiritual gifts as a body, worship of the Lord, and edification of the church. All biblical references to a church here on the earth refer to an autonomous local body of Jewish and/or Gentile believers and not to a universal or catholic church. Nowhere in the New Testament is a church here on the earth ever referred to as anything other than a local spiritual body and nowhere does Scripture teach that a church is to have any type authority above it other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Some examples of references to churches as they existed in the New Testament follow:

  1. “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied” (Ac. 9.31).
  2. Paul said, “Likewise greet the church that is in their house” (Ro. 16.5).  Notice that the church refers to the local body of baptized believers. The house was just the place where they met; it was not a church.
  3. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Paul … Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s” (1 Co. 1.1-2).
  4. “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place…” (1 Co. 14.23).
  5. “The churches [Not “the church”] of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house” (1 Co; 16.19).
  6. “Paul … unto Philemon … and to the church in thy house” (Phil; 1-2).
  7. “… [T]hat thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Ti; 3.15).  The Bible defines “house of God”: “For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house; as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken of after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (He. 3.4-6).
  8. 7 churches of Re.In Revelation, in speaking to “the things that are” at that time, the Lord stands in the midst of the seven candlesticks (churches)(Re. 1.12-13) and speaks to each church individually. He speaks to and has a message for “the church of Ephesus” (Re. 2.1), “the church in Smyrna” (Re. 2.8), “the church in Pergamos” (Re. 2.12), “the church in Thyatira” (Re. 2.18), “the church in Sardis” (Re. 3.1), “the church in Philadelphia” (Re. 3.7), and “the church of the Laodiceans” (Re. 3.14).

Baptists have always recognized the biblical teaching as to this aspect of a church—that is, that a church on earth is only a local spiritual body of believers whose Head is Jesus Christ. As Isaac Backus wisely noted:

ChristIsTheHead “[A] power in councils above particular churches has no foundation in Scripture, and is an endless source of confusion among Christians…. In all earthly governments, the laws are executed in the name of the supreme authority of it, which can see but a little of what is done in its name. But the Son of God is present in every church, as well as through the world, by his universal knowledge and power; and if any of his churches leave their first love, and will not repent, he removes the candlestick out of his place. Rev. ii. 1-5” (Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), pp. 339-340).

J. M. Carroll said this:

“[N]either Christ nor His apostles, ever gave to His followers, what is known today as a denominational name, such as ‘Catholic,’ ‘Lutheran,’ ‘Presbyterian,’ Episcopal,’ and so forth—unless the name given by Christ to John was intended for such, ‘The Baptist,’ ‘John the Baptist.’ (Matt.11:11 and 10 or 12 other times.) Christ called the individual follower ‘disciple.’ Two or more were called ‘disciples.’ The organization of disciples, whether at Jerusalem or Antioch or elsewhere, was called Church. If more than one of these separate organizations were referred to, they were called Churches. The word church in the singular was never used when referring to more than one of these organizations. Nor even when referring to them all” (J. M. Carroll, The Trail of Blood, (Distributed by Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, 163 N. Ashland Avenue, Lexington KY 40502, 606-266-4341), p. 9. . J. M. Carroll was a leader among Baptists who studied history and the Bible in an attempt to “find the church which was the oldest and most like churches described in the New Testament.” In the course of his studies, he gathered “one of the greatest libraries on church history. This library was given at his death to the Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas.” Carroll, Introduction at pp. 1-2.).

For our understanding her nature, Scripture describes a church in many ways. A church is a family. “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity” (1 Ti. 5.1-2). “And [I] will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Co. 6.18). “And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt. 12.49-50).

A church is called the body of Christ, and therefore a living organism, not a congregation. The Holy Spirit forms the church:

“(2)(g) When Peter opened the door of the kingdom to the Gentiles (Acts 10), the Holy Spirit, without delay, or other condition than faith, was given to those who believed (Acts 10.44; 11.15-18). This is the permanent fact for the entire church-age. Every believer is born of the Spirit (John 3.3, 6; 1 John 5.1), indwelt by the Spirit, whose presence makes the believer’s body a temple (1 Cor. 6.19; Rom. 8.9-15; 1 John 2.27; Gal. 4.6), and baptized by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12.12, 13; 1 John 2.20, 27), thus sealing him for God (Eph. 1.13; 4.30)…. (5) The Holy Spirit forms [a] church (Mt. 16.18; Heb. 12.23, note) by baptizing all believers [] (1 Cor. 12.12, 13)[and the member is then added to a local New Testament church when he is baptized in water], imparts gifts for service to every member of that body (1 Cor. 12.7-11, 27, 30), guides the members in their service (Lk. 2.27; 4.1; Acts 16.6, 7), and is Himself the power of that service (Acts 1.8; 2.4; 1 Cor. 2.4).“(6) The Spirit abides in the company of believers who constitute a local church, making of them, corporately, a temple (1 Cor. 3.16, 17).” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 pp. 1149-1150 to Acts 2.4). ]Bracketed changes and additions made by the author to clarify or correct Scofield’s note.]

Although the word “congregation” is used several hundred times in the Old Testament, it appears only once in the New Testament, in Acts 13.43, referring to a meeting of the Jews in the synagogue at Antioch where Paul had preached to them on the Sabbath day. A “congregation” is “an assembly of persons, or a gathering; especially, an assembly of persons met for worship and religious instruction” (See AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828) definition of “CONGREGATION” and MERRIAM WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 243 (10th ed. 1995), definition of “congregation.”). According to one Rabbi Hisda, the Hebrew word sbr meaning “assembly” or “congregation” is a contraction of three words: s from saddiqim (meaning “righteous”) plus b from benonim (“middle of the road persons”) and r from reshan (“wicked ones”) (Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Derdmans Publishing Co., 1976), fn W, p. 216.) On the other hand, a New Testament church is described as a spiritual body wherein each member has a specific purpose. For the church body to function correctly, all the members must perform their functions. The difference between the church, a spiritual body, and a congregation is significant: a church body is a spiritual organism whereas a congregation is an earthly gathering of people.

Paul gives two metaphors of the body:

  1. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body: but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Co. 12.12-27).
  2. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:4-16).

In other passages, Christ is depicted as the head of the church and the earthly members as the body. Remember that these passages are from Epistles written to local church bodies for their instruction.

  1. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ep. 1.22-23).
  2. “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ep. 4.15-16).
  3. “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God” (Col. 2.19).

The Bible compares the church to a pearl of great price which “a merchant man sold all that he had, and bought it (Mt. 13.45-46):

PearlOfGreatPrice“Of the true Church a pearl is a perfect symbol: (1) a pearl is one, a perfect symbol of unity (1 Cor. 10.17; 12.12, 13; Eph. 4.4-6). (2) A pearl is formed by accretion, and that not mechanically, but vitally, through a living one, as Christ adds to the Church (Acts 2.41, 47; 5.14; 11.24; Eph. 2.21; Col 2.19. (3) Christ, having given Himself for the pearl, is now preparing it for the presentation to Himself (Eph. 5.25-27).  The kingdom is not the Church, but the true children of the kingdom during the fulfillment of these mysteries, baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Cor. 12. 12, 13), compose … the pearl.” 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 3 to Matthew 13.45, p. 1017.).

The church is also compared to:

  1. the Father’s love gift to Jesus Christ (Jn. 17.2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 24);
  2. the bride and wife of Christ, who is the Head of the church as the husband is the head of the wife;
  3. a virgin espoused to one husband (2 Co. 11.1-2);
  4. “the household of God” and “an holy temple in the Lord” (Ep. 2.19-21; see also 1 Co. 3.16);
  5. branches on a vine (Jn. 15.5);
  6. an olive tree (Ro. 11.17-24);
  7. a field of crops (1 Co. 3.6-9);
  8. God’s husbandry and God’s building” (1 Co. 3.9);
  9. a harvest (Mt. 13.1-30; Jn. 4.35);
  10. lively stones, built up a spiritual house,
  11. an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Pe. 2.5);
  12. Christ’s house (He. 3.6) built by Christ Himself (He. 3.3); and
  13. ‘the pillar and ground of the truth’ (1 Ti. 3.15). God gave each metaphor for a reason.

Wayne Grudem explains:

“Each of the metaphors used for the church can help us to appreciate more of the richness of privilege that God has given us by incorporating us into [a local] church. The fact that [a] church is like a family should increase our love and fellowship with one another. The thought that the church is like the bride of Christ should stimulate us to strive for greater purity and holiness, and also greater love for Christ and submission to him. The image of the church as branches in a vine should cause us to rest in him more fully. The idea of an agricultural crop should encourage us to continue growing in the Christian life and obtaining for ourselves and others the proper spiritual nutrients to grow. The picture of the church as God’s new temple should increase our awareness of God’s very presence dwelling in our midst as we meet. The concept of the church as a priesthood should help us to see more clearly the delight God has in the sacrifices of praise and good deeds that we offer to him (See Heb. 13.15-16). The metaphor of [a] church as the body of Christ should increase our interdependence on one another and our appreciation of the diversity of gifts within the body. Many other applications could be drawn from these and other metaphors for the church listed in Scripture.” (Grudem, p. 859)[Brackets contain changes made by the author to reflect true Scriptural teaching].

How can one recognize a true church? J. M. Carroll, in describing the overall organization of the church, listed eleven “Marks of a New Testament Church:

  1. “Its Head and Founder—CHRIST. He is the lawgiver; the Church is only the executive. (Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:18.)
  2. “Its only rule of faith and practice—THE BIBLE. (II Tim. 3:15-17.)
  3. “Its name—‘CHURCH,’ ‘CHURCHES.’ (Matt. 16:18; Rev. 22:16.)
  4. “Its polity—CONGREGATIONAL—all members equal. (Matt. 20:24-28; Matt. 23:5- 12.)
  5. “Its members—only saved people. (Eph 2:21-22; I Peter 2:5.)
  6. “Its ordinances—BELIEVER’S BAPTISM, FOLLOWED BY THE LORD’S SUPPER. (Matt. 28:19-20.)
  7. “Its officers—PASTORS AND DEACONS. (I Tim. 3:1-16.)
  8. “Its work—getting folks saved, baptizing them (with a baptism that meets all the requirements of God’s Word), teaching them (‘to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you’). (Matt. 28:16-20.)
  9. “Its financial plan—‘Even so (TITHES and OFFERINGS) hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.’ (I Cor. 9.14.)
  10. “Its weapons of warfare—spiritual, not carnal. (II Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10-20.)
  11. “Its independence—separation of Church and State. (Matt. 22:21.)”

(Carroll, pp. 4-5).

Certainly, a preacher on the street corner with a crowd around him as he preaches is not a church. Nor is a group of people meeting in a house and preaching the Word. However, if that house group chooses a properly ordained and baptized pastor, organizes and operates according to biblical principles, initiates a proper baptism for new believers, and begins to partake of the Lord’s Supper, an ordered New Testament church comes into existence. The Lord desires that those who are saved be baptized into a properly ordered New Testament church.

Where only false doctrines are preached, no church can exist. For example, the Catholic Church, some Baptist churches, many Protestant churches, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Islam, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not churches. “When the preaching of a church conceals the gospel message of salvation by faith alone from its members, so that the gospel message is not clearly proclaimed, and has not been proclaimed for some time, the group meeting there is not a church” (Grudem, p. 865). A church can exist only where the Bible is believed to be the inerrant Word of God, where the Bible is the sole basis for faith and practice, and where that Bible is preached.

5A church has responsibilities. Strong, knowledgeable believers who are walking in the spirit will practice all their God-given responsibilities and apply their spiritual gifts. Included in those responsibilities, but not developed in this chapter or section, is the responsibility to “present [the church] as a chaste virgin to Christ” (See 2 Co. 11.1-4).

Worship is preeminent for the believer and for a church. “Worship” means “[t]o adore; to pay divine honor to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828) definition of “WORSHIP.”).  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3.16).  “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Ep. 1.12). “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ep. 5.19-20).

The principles of worship set out in Exodus 30, the great worship chapter, still apply. Exodus 30.38 condemns “making worship a mere pleasure to the natural man, whether sensuous, as in … music …, or eloquence, merely to give delight to the natural mind” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 3 to Exodus 30.38, p. 112).  Christians are to worship God in spirit and in truth (See Jn. 4.23-24). The Word of God contains principles regarding appropriate music, dress, conduct, and attitude for worship. The Lord commanded, “Ye shall offer no strange incense [on the altar of incense], nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon” (Ex. 30.9). No ‘strange’ incense was to be offered (that is simulated or purely formal worship forbidden) and no “strange” fire was permitted (referring “to the excitation of ‘religious’ feelings by merely sensuous means, and to the substitution for devotion to Christ of any other devotion, as to religious causes, or sects” (See 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Exodus 30.9, p. 111; I Corinthians 1:11-13; Colossians 2.8,16-19).).

The local body assembles to worship God, and to edify and aid in the maturing of the faith of the members of the body, not to preach to the lost. Believers go outside the assembly and seek the salvation of the lost. This does not mean that lost people may not attend the assembly, but the purpose of assembly is not to win the lost. God gifted members of a church “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ep. 4.12-13).  The church is to preach the whole counsel of God, “warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1.28).

A church has the responsibility to evangelize. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16.15).  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mt. 28.19).

Along with the obligation to evangelize goes helping and doing good to fellow believers as well as to unbelievers:

  1. “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful’” (Lu. 6.35-36).
  2. “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him” (1 Jn. 3.17)?
  3. “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea” (Ac. 11.29).
  4. “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Ro. 12.17). “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men” (1 Th. 5.15).
  5. “Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints” (2 Co. 8.4).
  6. “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (Ja. 2.14-17).

a5A church is united together and to Christ by the baptism with the Holy Spirit (1 Co. 12.12-34). As such, it is a holy temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit (Ep. 2.21, 22); is “one flesh” with Christ (Ep. 5.30, 31); and espoused to Him as a chaste virgin to one husband (2 Co. 11.2-4). Other metaphors, as pointed out above, have also been used to describe a church. Local churches assemble in His name for the breaking of bread, worship, praise, prayer, testimony, the ministry of the word, discipline, and the furtherance of the Gospel (He. 10.25; Ac. 20.7; 1 Co. 14.26; 1 Co. 5.4, 5; Ph. 4.14-18; 1 Th. 1.8; Ac. 13.1-). Every such local church has Christ in the midst, is a temple of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Co. 3.16, 17), and is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Ti. 3.15). Only the assembly where the true doctrine is preached is a church: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Ga. 1.8). A church is the body of Christ of which He is the Head. Christ desires that a church remain solely under Him: “And [God] hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Ep. 1.22-23). “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ep. 5.23).

Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s Teaching on “The Biblical Principles Doctrine of the Church”

This purpose of this page is to record the radio broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teachings on the biblical principles of the church. One can find links to all articles on this blog by going to the following link: “Separation of Church and State Law Blog: Links to all articles” (This link is to the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com.).

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).

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to Preview of God Betrayed) is a comprehensive study of the issue of separation of church and state and may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from Amazon by going to the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Introduction to the biblical doctrine of the church (June 13, 2010, 38th Broadcast, 1st 15 min. segment): 

Definition,  organization, and purposes of a church (June 13, 2010, 38th Broadcast, 2nd 15 minute segment): 

Definition,  organization, and purposes of a church (June 13, 2010, 38th Broadcast, 3rd 15 minute segment): 

Heresy and apostasy – 1 (June 20, 2010, 39th Broadcast, 1st 15 minute segment): 

Heresy and apostasy – 2 (June 20, 2010, 39th Broadcast, 2nd 15 minute segment):

Recent accelerated apostasy in the United States (June 20, 2010, 39th Broadcast, 3rd 15 minute segment):

“Apostasy at the end of the church age,” “The church will reign with the Lord,” and “Conclusion of the biblical principles concerning the church.” 

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Audio: The Biblical Doctrine of Separation of Church and State

Jerald Finney
Copyright © October, 2009

Union of church and state can only be supported by an allegorization or spiritualizaton of the Word of God. In fact, Scripture teaches separation of church and state, but not separation of God and state. Untold millions of our Baptist forefathers died horrible deaths at the hands of established churches who worked hand in hand with civil governments to eliminate all heretics. Those state churches proceeded under an incorrect allegorized interpretation of the Bible in their attempt to realize their goal of peace and union on the earth. They only succeeded  in corrupting civil government leaders, church leaders, and almost everyone trapped in their system. The only ones not corrupted were many of those who were labeled as heretics by the state church.

Jerald Finney, a fundamental Christian called to practice law as a licensed attorney, teaches, in the audio segments below, the biblical doctrine of separation of church and state. You may not agree with all he says, but these studies will prove invaluable to the Christian who wants to grow in knowledge concerning this vital issue. These audios are edited from his radio broadcasts.

To get more in deeply into these issues, you may obtain God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American  Application other books which are relevant to the issue of separation of church and state by going to the “Books” page of churchandstatelaw.com. All the books by Jerald Finney are reproduced on this website. One can go to the written teachings of Jerald Finney on the Contents Page of this blog. One can find Finney’s written teaching on the specific topic of The Biblical Doctrine of Separation of Church and State by clicking the blue link.

To play, just click the link. To download, right click link and then left click “Save link as.”

1. Introduction (Section III, Chapter 1 of God Betrayed) (This Introduction begins with a song, “He Set Me Free,” sang by the Mike Anderson family, and prayer which ends at 3 min. 31 sec. The entire segment is 31 min. 27 sec.).

2. Definitions (Section III, Chapter 2 of God Betrayed) (4 min. 51 sec.).

3. Dispensational versus covenant theology (Section III, Chapter 3 of God Betrayed) (43 min. 18 sec.).

4. Distinct differences between church and state (Section III, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed) (41 min. 9 sec.).

5. The following 5 segments are from the book Render unto God the things that are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses. This book is a more detailed and expanded study of Chapters 5 and 6 of God Betrayed. This study will be in the 5 audio teachings below which deal with verses which are taken entirely out of context to mean the opposite of their contextual meaning:

5a. Introduction and Matthew 17.24-27: “Doth not your master pay tribute?” (Begins with song and prayer. 13 min. 42 sec).

5b. Luke 20.25, Matthew 22.21, Mark 12.17: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God, the things which be God’s” (4 min. 47 sec.).

5c. Romans 13: “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers”  (24 min. 15 sec.).

5d. I Peter 2.13: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man….” (6 min. 6 sec.).

5e. I Timothy 2.1-5: Pray for rulers I Timothy 2.1-5: Pray for rulers (8 min. 6 sec.).

6. Christ, the Husband, Bridegroom, and Husband of His Church (Section III, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed. This chapter is not available in audio at this time. The written version of this is on this website at Christ-Church-Husband-Wife, Bridegroom-bride.

7. Conclusion (Section III, Chapter 8 of God Betrayed. This chapter is not available in audio at this time. The written version of this is on this website at Conclusion.).

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For His Glory,
Jerald Finney

Separation of Church and State: Christians Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil

Jerald Finney
Copyright © September, 2009

Lecture entitled “Hierarchy of Law” by Jerald Finney on August 26, 2012 at Old Paths Baptist Church in Fayetville, Tennessee on the 16th anniversary of that church and also the day the church finalized their change from incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization and legal entity to a non-legal, spiritual enity only.

Jerald Finney: Audio teaching on legal versus spiritual entities and incorporation of churches

Jerald Finney continues his audio teaching on incorporation of churches

To download one of the above audio teachings, right click link and left click “Save link as…”

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Is. 5.20)!  I would guess that most Christians would apply this verse, as I have in the past, to the unregenerate, and possibly to carnal Christians. But having been intimately involved in two fundamental Bible believing churches since being saved, I have by experience learned that many pastors, missionaries, and other Christians have been deceived as to the doctrines of church, government, and separation of church and state to the extent that they call certain evil good and certain good evil, put darkness for light, and light for darkness, bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Please let me explain.

8My pastors have always stood for the biblical doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state. Nonetheless, they associate with pastors and other Christians who are members of state churches. By state churches, I mean churches who are legal entities. 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).”

Many avenues are open for a church to become a legal entity. A few of many examples are incorporation, corporation sole, unincorporated association, 501(c)(3) tax exemption, and taking insurance in the name of the church.

A New Testament church (which, in America, is also a United States Constitution First Amendment church) cannot also be a legal entity. A New Testament or First Amendment church is a spiritual entity only, and cannot sue or be sued. A New Testament church is a spiritual body of whom Christ is the head and the members on earth the body (Jn. 3.28-29; Ro. 7.4; 1 Co. 12.12-27; Ep. 1.22-23; 4.15-16; Col. 2.19).  The Bible calls Jesus Christ the bridegroom and husband of the church who is the bride and wife (see, e.g., Ep. 5.22-33; 2 Co. 11.1-4; Re. 19.6-8).

EvilGood_GoodEvilWhen a believer who is walking in the Spirit according to knowledge, wisdom, and understanding applies earthly fact to biblical principle, he cannot help but see that a church who becomes a legal entity puts herself at least partially under another head, submits herself at least partially to another lover, entangles herself in earthly as opposed to biblical or spiritual  procedures and requirements, and is at least partially financed, educated, directed, and/or  controlled by an earthly entity (two such entities if a church is both incorporated and also under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code). In other words, such a church has violated the biblical principle of separation as well as many other biblical principles. (See God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application and/or Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? and other books by Jerald Finney for a thorough analysis of these matters. Click the following link to preview God Betrayed: Link to preview of God Betrayed.  The book can be ordered from the “Books” page of the “Church and State Law website.”  These books and many other resources are available on the “Books” page of  the “Church and State Law” website.)

Here are some earthly facts about incorporation which can be applied to biblical principles:

(1) The sovereign of a non-profit or private corporation such as an incorporated church is the state (see, e.g. 18A AM. JUR. 2D Corporations §§ 74, 156 (2007)).
(2) “A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law. As a mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it, either expressly or as incidental to its very existence; these are such as are supposed best calculated to effect the object for which they were created. It is essentially the legal identity of a set of contractual obligations and entitlements” (18 AM. JUR. 2D Corporations § 1 (2007)).

A biblical and historical Baptist principle is that God desires separation of church and state, not separation of God and church or separation ofSeparationOFChurchAndState10 God and state. Study Jerald Finney's writings and/or audio teachings to discover the truth about and how to apply the principle.
A biblical and historical Baptist principle is that God desires separation of church and state, not separation of God and church or separation of God and state. Study Jerald Finney’s writings and/or audio teachings to discover the truth about and how to apply this principle.

(3) “A corporate charter frequently is described as a contract of a threefold nature; that is, a contract between the state and the corporation, a contract between the corporation and its stockholders [or members if a private religious corporation], and a contract between the stockholders [or members] inter se. The charter also is spoken of as a contract between the state and the corporators” (18 AM. JUR. 2D Corporations § 81 (2007)). Other contracts are created by the bylaws of the corporation: contracts between the members or stockholders of a corporation, and contracts between the corporation and its members or its stockholders. Contract is not biblical because contract leaves God out of the equation. The controlling party to the contracts involved in church incorporation is the state, and the state will not allow biblical principles to be invoked in resolving any disputes arising under those contracts. The multiple contracts created by the articles of incorporation and the bylaws entangle the incorporated church with earthly satanic concerns.
(4) An incorporated 501(c)(3) church gets part of her powers from God and part from two civil governments-the state of incorporation and the federal government. She is under three heads. The church, as a legal entity, can sue and be sued as to both earthly and spiritual matters. The church must have elected officers who conduct business meetings, meet statutory requirements, etc. as required by the law of the sovereign, the state of incorporation. The church, be getting 501(c)(3) status, agrees that she will abide by the rules that go along with 501(c)(3); the church has become part of the 501(c)(3) government education and control scheme for churches.
(5) The incorporated church, as has been stated, is an artificial person and a separate legal entity. This has many ramifications.
(6) The purpose of the corporation is at odds with the God-given purpose of a church. Ultimately, the purpose of a church is to glorify God by submitting herself to her Husband in all things (See Ep. 5.24).  The basic purpose of incorporation is to allegedly increase the happiness of man by creating a “distinct legal entity, with legal rights, obligations, powers, and privileges different from those of the natural individuals who created it, own it, or whom it employs” (18 AM. JUR. 2D Corporations § 44 (2007)).
(7) A corporation and a church have different creators. Church members, under authority of and in conjunction with the state, create the corporation. God supernaturally creates a church: “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Ac.  2.47b).
(8) The organization of a church and a corporation are different. The incorporated “church” has “employees.” Even should the incorporated “church” call their “employees” ministers, the state looks at them as “employees,” and the state is the sovereign of the corporation. A New Testament church cannot have employees and remain a New Testament church.
(9) Whereas a church is to have pastors, teachers, and so forth, state laws which create corporations require the corporation to have officers such as president, treasurer, secretary, and so forth.
(10) Ownership of a church and a corporation differ. “Members in a nonprofit corporation are the ‘owners’ of the corporation and generally play a role similar to shareholders in for-profit corporations” (18A AM. JUR. 2D Corporations § 609 (2007)). The corporation owns the assets of the church.  Jesus Christ  owns a New Testament church, and a New Testament church owns nothing. In America, a New Testament church can still enjoy the use of both real and personal property without owning it. Old Paths Baptist Church church and state law ministry helps churches structure themselves as New Testament churches.
(11) An incorporated church must deal with all the government red tape that comes with incorporation. The incorporated church must now elect officers, hold business meetings, notify members of those meetings pursuant to statutory requirements, keep records, etc. All these secular activities take tremendous time, energy, and resources which could be used in pursuing the God-given purposes of a church. The incorporated church who does not comply with statutory requirements is being dishonest and could face further problems from her sovereign state.
(12) An incorporated church, having compromised her love for her Husband, will continue to make incremental compromises, and ultimately (perhaps in 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, or 200 years or more) will fall into heresy and apostasy. And from the beginning of that initial compromise, the Lord, even though longsuffering in His love and mercy, is grieving because of His wife’s compromise.
(13) 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.

An analysis of corporation sole and unincorporated association reveals the flaws in those types of legal entities when applied to churches. Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) tax exempt status puts a church further under the control of the state and is thoroughly analyzed in two of the above mentioned books written by Jerald Finney. Any time a church sets herself up to be a legal entity, she violates biblical principle, grieves our Lord, and puts herseslf on the road to heresy and apostasy. As long as a church has a good pastor, God will still bless that church to an extent. However, both the Old and New Testaments warn about the ultimate consequences of taking that first step away from our spiritual lover. Sooner or later, a state church will have a pastor who will no longer  honor God, and she will degenerate deeper and deeper into heresy, and ultimately into apostasy.

My pastor is a great man of God who preaches the whole word of God. In the past, before I became a member of Old Paths Baptist church, I attended church conferences which were well attended by pastors and missionaries. At those conferences, certain of those pastors and missionaries have struck out against the fact that the church which I attended was not a state incorporated 501(c)(3) church. In addition, I have, over the years, witnessed many other Christians who believe that a church in America should become state incorporated 501(c)(3) church, and have seen them become very angry at a pastors who refuse to operate as a state church. These Christians are, in effect, calling evil good and good evil. They are, as to this aspect of their Christian walk, proceeding without knowledge and wisdom; they are walking in darkness rather than light. They know not of which the speak (and act). They are on the road to heresy and apostasy.

One more relevant matter (mentioned above) needs to be addressed. A church in the United States can choose to be either a New Testament church who operates according to biblical principles or a state church. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as provisions in most or all state constitutions provide that churches can operate totally free from governmental control. Churches in America, by law, can operate according to the principles of the Word of God. Those who choose the latter will not be defined, controlled, and restricted by the world as is the state church, but they will suffer a degree of persecution by some other Christians.

Many Christians have not heeded the warning of Col. 2: 6-8:

“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.” They have not, to one degree or another, escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust because they have not added to their faith knowledge without which they are “blind, and cannot see afar off.”  When God’s people reject knowledge, they will be destroyed (see 1 Peter 1.4-10; Hosea 4.6).

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