Tag Archives: To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate

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

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Jerald Finney © March 23, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endnote:

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

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

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.

Church Incorporation, 501c3, Heresy, and Apostasy


Jerald Finney
Copyright © November, 2010
Click the following for links to articles on:
Christian Issues, Heresy, And Apostasy
When Did the Church Become a Business?” a by Jason Bellard


Contents: 

I. Preface
II. Introduction
III. Church apostasy in America has followed the pattern of apostasy in Israel
IV. Church incorporation in the American colonies and after ratification of the Constitution
V. The relationship of God and state (Gentile nations)
VI. Government control over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations
VII. Free under God or in bondage under Satan?
VIII. Apostasy at the end of the church age
IX. Conclusion
Endnotes [Endnote 1 has information on books by Jerald Finney]


 Note. Go directly to blue underlined articles, books, etc. by left clicking.


I. Preface

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2.6-8).

In the next series to be printed on this blog, the author will explain biblical doctrine of the church, a doctrine that must be correctly understood in order to understand that Christ is not pleased when a church subjects herself to the civil government in any manner, including incorporation and 501(c)(3). In that series the author will go into some detail concerning the doctrine of the church. For now, the following is offered as a brief comment concerning the biblical doctrine concerning churches:

“A church is a local visible assembly of persons who have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Only in the sense that since one cannot see the spiritual condition of people’s hearts is the church invisible. We can see the local assembly and those who outwardly attend a church, and we can see outward evidences of inward spiritual change, but we cannot actually see people’s hearts and view their spiritual state. Therefore, one can be in the visible church, yet unregenerate, lost, and destined for hell. As shown in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (See En1 for link to preview of this book and ordering information), all references in the New Testament to a church here on earth refer to an autonomous local body of Jewish and/or Gentile believers and not to a universal or catholic church (Ibid. at pp. 72-73). Paul wrote to local bodies here on earth (e.g., to the church at Corinth, the church at Ephesus, the churches of Galatia, etc.). Jesus walked in the midst of seven golden candlesticks (churches or assemblies: Re. 1.13; 2.1), not in the midst of a candlestick, and instructed John to write distinct messages to each of those seven churches or assemblies, each message to address the condition of and a warning to and/or approval of the particular church to whom the message was sent (Re. 1.1-3.22). His message to those churches and other messages to the churches in the New Testament are to local church bodies or assemblies. His messages to churches in Revelation as well as in other New Testament passages are to be studied and applied by each believer and each local New Testament church until the Rapture occurs. Every church should aim to please the Lord completely as did the church at Smryna and the church at Philadelphia.”

The present series addresses biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy of New Testament churches and the application of that teaching to churches in America. Heresy and apostasy of churches received thorough coverage in the New Testament. As understood by Jude, the principle of apostasy was also addressed thoroughly in the Old Testament, but in the context of God’s Old Testament people, the Jews, and their nation and religion. The New Testament predicted the apostasy of the professing church, treated the apostasy as having already set in, and described the cause and course. These biblical teachings are there for the instruction and admonition of individual believers, families, the nation, and the churches. By studying and applying biblical principle in faith, a church will please the Lord. Dire consequences result for individuals, families, the nation, and for every church which fails to do so.

In the first article of this series on heresy and apostasy,  “On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, ‘The Treasure is in a Field,’” the author pointed to what is viewed by many as a great American church. Dr. Hyles missed a preeminent principle in the Word of God as to the organization of God’s churches in his sermon, “The Treasure is in a Field.” Dr. Hyles either did not understand biblical principle concerning the two types of marriage—the marriage of Christ and His churches the marriage of man and woman—or he disregarded those principles. As a result of his error, the chickens may already be coming home to roost at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (referred to hereinafter as “First Baptist”). As the author has long pointed out, when a church and pastor compromise basic biblical principle regarding separation of church and state, that church has dishonored her love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and has headed down the road to heresy and apostasy. When compromise is made, even by a great man of God like Jack Hyles, the church he pastors has dishonored God, taken a step toward apostasy, and will sooner or later be led by one who will further compromise biblical truth.

In the next article in this series, “Jack Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, Heresy and Apostasy,” the author pointed to some heretical teachings at First Baptist which Dr. Hyles would never have tolerated, and – in Part II of that article – summarized biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy in God’s churches.

As a result of the first two articles mentioned above, pastors and Christians sent e-mail letters expressing their support or opposition to the articles mentioned above. Some of those letters and my responses may be read in the third article in this series, “Letters from pastors regarding Hyles/Schaap and other articles.”

In the third article in this series “Recent accelerated apostasy in the United States,” the author examined the accelerating pace of apostasy in today’s American churches. Churches are now concerned with growth and appealing to the self and to the flesh rather than with biblical principle and spiritual growth. As a result of these spiritually dead churches and their efforts, a smaller and smaller percentage of people are being saved.

This article, the fourth in this series, traces the beginning and development of heresy and apostasy in American churches beginning in the early history of the United States of America.

The thinking that sacrifices truth for unity and superficial peace is not biblical. Christians are instructed to examine doctrinal differences in light of Scripture. Christians have a duty to expose and condemn unbiblical teaching and behavior. Paul rebuked people by name (Phil. 4.2-3; 1 Ti. 1.20; 2 Ti. 2.17). John condemned Diotrophes, a church leader who rejected the apostolic letters and authority (3 Jn.).

Believers are to speak the truth in love. This series of articles on heresy and apostasy does just that. The ultimate goal is to glorify and please our Lord by presenting truth in the hopes that some Christians and churches will wake up, reject heresy and apostasy, place themselves solely under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and again proclaim the Gospel with power in order that more souls will be saved. Does not the Lamb of God deserve the reward of His suffering? Should a Christian not bear his cross for the glory of the One who gave His all for him?

Spiritual treasure is being lost and abandoned and no one seems to know why. This series of articles explain why.


II. Introduction

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

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

Jesus Christ is the head of His churches in all things. However, Christ will permit a church to betray Him and take herself from under His authority in one thing, some things, or all things. Placing a church under some person or power in only one thing greatly displeases the Lord because doing so violates biblical precept. God’s Word did not say, “and gave him to be the head over all things to the church except one thing” or “all things except secular or earthly matters,” or “all things except property.” God’s Word says, “all things.” Isaac Backus, the great Baptist leader in the colony of Massachusetts wrote: “If Christ Jesus have left such power with the civil rulers of the world, [kingdoms and counties, or] for the establishing, governing, and reforming his church, what is become of his care and love, wisdom and faithfulness, since in all ages since he left the earth, for the general [beyond all exception] he hath left her destitute of such qualified princes and governors, and in the course of his providence furnished her with such, whom he knew would be [and all men find] as fit as wolves to protect and feed his sheep and people!” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume I, (Eugene Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), fn. 1, p. 158, quoting Roger Williams, Bloody Tenent.

When a New Testament church does anything contrary to Scripture which gives even partial claim of sovereignty over that church to the state, that church has committed a wicked act which subjects her to another head, thereby greatly displeasing the Lord. That church has betrayed the Lord.

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

Corporations are legal entities. On the other hand, a pastor/trustee may hold legal title to real and/or corporal personal property (which includes movable and tangible things such as furniture, merchandise etc. BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 1217, definition of “Property.”) for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ through a Declaration of Trust without having created a legal entity. Such a trust relationship cannot sue or be sued. “Any kind of property, whether real or personal, freehold or leasehold, and any interest therein, whether legal or equitable, may be impressed with a trust. While the question of what property is made subject to a trust is determined by the terms of the trust, as a general proposition a property interest must be transferable to be the subject of an express trust.” 76 AM. JUR. 2D Trusts § 247 (2007).).

Furthermore, although there is no precedent in Scripture for a New Testament church, a strictly spiritual entity, to own property, a New Testament church obviously must occupy real property to exist. “Real property” means: “Land, and generally whatever is erected or growing upon or affixed to land” (Ibid., p. 1219, definition of “Real property.”). Hereinafter, the author will use the term “property” in referring to “real property.” In America, a New Testament church may occupy property in a manner consistent with biblical principle in at least three ways. As is shown in “Analysis of another reason given for church corporate status: to hold property” (an article on this blog) and in  Chapter 7 God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (See En1 for link to preview of this book and ordering information), a church may use property held by a pastor/trustee, under a Declaration of Trust, for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, a church may use and occupy property if the owner gives the church permission to do so. Or third, a pastor/trustee, under a Declaration of Trust, may lease property to be used by a church for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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


III. Church apostasy in America has followed the pattern of Apostasy in Israel

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

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

“And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.  Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth. Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah. Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee. And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers[.]” (De. 6.10-18).

“When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (De. 7.1-6).

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

“And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Caananites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out (De. 7.1-6).” “They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions. Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance. And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them” (Ps. 106.34-41).

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

The results of Israel not obeying God took hundreds of years to play out. At first, the theocracy of Israel was directly under God who ruled through judges.  “[The period of the theocracy of Israel under the judges was] a time of deep declension of the people as they turned from God, the unseen Leader, and descended to the low level of ‘In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes’ (compare Judges 1.1 with 20.18). This should have been an era of glowing progress, but it was a dark day of repeated failure.

“The ‘hoop’ of Israel’s history [began] with the nation serving God. Then they took certain steps downward. They did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baalim (see Judges 2.11). They forsook the Lord and they served Baal and Ashtaroth. The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of their enemies. Israel entered a time of servitude. Soon Israel cried out to God in their sad plight and distress. They turned to God and repented. God heard their prayers and raised up judges through whom they were delivered. Then again the nation served God. Soon the same old story repeated itself” (J. Vernon McGee, Joshua and Judges (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1980), pp. 112-113.).

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

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

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

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

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

The experience of the Israelites in rejecting God and demanding a king is very similar to a church rejecting God as her only Head and seeking incorporation and 501(c)(3) status. When Samuel was judge over Israel, the Israelites demanded a king to rule over them so that they might also, as they put it, “be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (1 S. 8.19).

“[T]he LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them” (1 S. 8.7-9).

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

Although Israel’s demanding a king was called a “great wickedness” (I S. 12.12) which they perceived after Samuel foretold and God sent “thunder and rain” (1 S. 12.17-18) on the day of the wheat harvest, the people did not repent of that evil. The people acknowledged their wickedness and asked Samuel to pray to God “that [they] die not” (1 S. 12.19), but they did not repent. Knowing that asking for a king was a great evil, they said to Samuel, “Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask for a king” (1 S. 12.19).  They were only concerned about their own temporal selves, their own happiness, and not the glory of God. Would not God have been greatly pleased and glorified had they repented, rejected their king, and asked God to rule over them as before? Samuel replied to them:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


IV. Church incorporation in the American colonies
and after ratification of the Constitution

Originally, before and after the ratification of the United States Constitution, the only church involvement with the state was through incorporation. Any incorporation of churches at any time was and is wicked, and modern incorporation significantly subjects churches to the state. The incorporation in the colonies differed in respects to modern incorporation in that, at least in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, the state church more or less ran the state whereas under modern incorporation, the state has power over incorporated churches, but incorporated churches have no power over the state. Churches rationalized that to incorporate was the pragmatic thing to do. By incorporating, they received protection from the state. They could contract—for example, they could contract with their pastors for his salary. Churches could hold property and receive bequests. As pointed out in Section II, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed, their goal was the happiness of man, not the glory of God. God became a means to an end, not the end. Churches reasoned, without examining Scripture, that doing certain things “worked” and therefore that doing those things was good or even of God.

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

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

Just as marriage of man and woman is a biblical covenant which includes God, the marriage of Christ and His church is designed by God to be a biblical covenant. The Bible compares not only Christ and His church, as shown in Section III, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed, but also Jehovah and Israel to husband and wife. “For thy maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy one of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called” (Is. 54.5).  Experience and the Word of God teach man how a husband feels when his wife is unfaithful. The Old Testament teaches that God the Father felt the same way when Israel committed spiritual whoredom. Ezekiel 16 speaks of the harlotry of Jerusalem. God said to Jerusalem: “But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband! They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom” (Eze. 16.32-33).  “Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD” (Je. 3.20).  God pleaded with Israel and his people to return unto Him.”… [T]hou has played the harlot, with many lovers; yet return again to me saith the Lord… (Je. 3.1).” “Turn, O Backsliding children saith the LORD; for I am married unto you… (Je. 3.14).”  God’s grief over Jerusalem was displayed by Jesus when He lamented the rebellion of Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Lu. 13.34).

God gave some object lessons as to the way He felt about Israel’s spiritual fornication. Ezekiel was made a sign to Israel: God told him not to mourn the death of his wife (Eze. 24.15-27).  Likewise, God used Hosea to communicate His feelings. Hosea was told to marry a woman who, after they had children, left him and became a harlot:

“For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband: for then was it better with me than now. For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal” (Ho. 2.5-8).

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

The Lord Jesus, as Husband of His church, likewise grieves at the unfaithfulness of His church. Christ and His wife, the church, are one flesh. He loves the church as Himself:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church[.]” (Ep. 5.25-29)

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

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

As could have been predicted from “rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” the civil government is doing the opposite of what the churches wished (except for temporal benefits which increase the temporary “happiness of man”); and most incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations and members do not realize what is happening. The civil government has educated many or most “Christians” in anti-biblical principles and used the churches to further its satanic purposes. In effect, many churches have become mere arms of the state. Civil government officials, who have absolutely no understanding of Romans 13 point out to miseducated or willfully ignorant church pastors and members—many of whom eagerly follow the directions of their illegitimate master—that under Romans 13 it is the duty of the church to serve the state at the whim of the state. In effect, churches have “rendered unto Caesar the things that are God’s.” Many such religious organizations use tithes and offerings, government money, money obtained from begging on street corner, and/or money from advertisements on television, radio, and elsewhere to carry on their ministries, giving donors tax-deduction acknowledgements available because of 501(c)(3) status. In other words, these incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations depend upon the power, authority, reasoning, and techniques of civil government to achieve their goals. Can you imagine our Lord, when Satan offered Him all the kingdoms of the world, En 2 if the Lord would bow down and worship him—that is, if the Lord would operate under satanic principles—accepting Satan’s offer (See Mt. 4.8-9; Lu. 4.5-7)? Instead, the Lord gave us the correct example by quoting Scripture: “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Mt. 4.10; Lu. 4.8). Can you imagine the Apostle Paul, any other apostle, or persecuted Christians down through the ages when asked “by what authority do you these things,” responding, “by the authority of the state.”

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

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


V. The relationship of God and state (Gentile nations)

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

After God called Israel to be a theocracy directly under Him, the Gentile nations continued under the dispensations of conscience and human government.

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Ro. 2.14-15).

God still desired Gentile nations to choose to be under Him, but sadly both the theorcracy of Israel as well as Gentile nations have governed for self and not God. The Word of God makes clear that Gentile nations, like Israel, are without excuse.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Ro. 1.18-20).

Romans 1.21-23 gives the seven stages of Gentile world apostasy, and Romans 1.24-32 gives the results of Gentile world apostasy.

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


VI. Government control over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations

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

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

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

In effect, as is shown in “The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme”, the audio teaching “Union of Church and State in America: Incorporation and 501(c)(3) Tax Exemption,”, in the radio broadcasts “God Betrayed: Union of Church and State,”and in Section VI, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed, the incorporation-501(c)(3) tax exemption is nothing more than an exemption-education-control scheme. The state knows that it cannot control and educate a New Testament church. Civil government cannot tell a New Testament church what to believe, say, or do. The state has no control over such a church. A New Testament church will submit to only one Husband—the Lord Jesus Christ. She gets her spiritual orders from God’s Word, not the civil government. A New Testament church believes and acts upon God’s Words. On the other hand, an incorporated, 501(c)(3) religious organization, in addition to being involved in a wicked act against her Husband, is subject to the teaching and control of civil government.


VII. Free under God or in bondage under Satan?

Saved individuals and churches choose either to be free under God or to be in bondage under Satan. God wants His children and churches to be free.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8.31-32, 36).

Anyone who is not saved is in bondage to sin and the devil. “A Christian is free from the guilt of sin, condemnation (Jn. 3.18, 5.24), the power of darkness (Col. 1.13), the sting of death (1 Co. 15.54-57), the law of sin and death (Ro. 8.1), the power of indwelling sin (Ro. 6), the curse of the law (Ga. 3.13), and pride (Ro. 3.27).”

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

This does not mean that members of a church are free to commit crimes. As to infractions against another or society, the Bible provides that the state is there “to punish evildoers.” Christians are told not to do evil.

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters” (1 Pe. 4.14-15).How many times do Christians and churches allow fear to control, paralyze, and enslave them? God desires to deliver those “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (See He. 2.15). “For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.  Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men” (1 Co. 7.22-23).

Although the lost man should fear God, the Christian is not to be subject to fear, even the fear of death for practicing his faith. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10.28). “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Ti. 1.7).

If death is no cause for fear to the Christian, why should anything else frighten, control, paralyze, and/or enslave him against the will of God?

Since the founding of the nation, Christians in America have suffered little persecution. When persecution for the Lord’s sake comes, the true Christian should rejoice as did persecuted apostles and Christians down through the ages: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mt. 5.11-12) .

Jesus said to the church in Smyrna, the suffering persecuted church, and only one of two churches against which the Lord had nothing bad to say: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Re. 2.10).

Unfortunately, most church members are more American than they are Christian; submission to biblical principles only is impractical and too contrary to the American way of life. The laws passed by the civil government provide that the church who submits to state authority will be able to attract and keep members who are more concerned about their material than their spiritual well-being; who are more concerned with temporary happiness and the absence of fear than with the glory of God. Many church members, including many pastors, either due to biblical ignorance and/or motivated by fear and greed, have misinterpreted or ignored fundamental Bible principles in order to become an arm of the state. Many times good pastors led the move to combine the churches they pastored with the state because they blindly followed their Bible college or seminary education. Also, many good pastors have inherited state-entangled churches and cannot decide what to do about it.


VIII. Apostasy at the end of the church age

The Lord says to the church of the Laodiceans, at the end of the church age and at the final stage of the apostasy:

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Re. 3.15-19)

Many pastors believe that the saved will go to heaven but be without rewards should they not follow after Christ after salvation. Pastor Joey Faust states the following concerning the church at Laodicea:

“To fall from, one has to be in something first. I believe Laodicea is a church made up of TRUE (thus real) Christians, who nevertheless have fallen away from truth and fellowship with Jesus in their materialism, pride, etc. This church and its pastor (and all true churches in the last days who are Laodicean) will lose the right to reign and fellowship with Jesus when He appears—thus the Lord’s command to be zealous and repent!” (See J.D. Faust, The Rod: Will God Spare It? (Hanesville, N.C.: Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc. 2002))

Whether one agrees with Pastor Faust or not concerning this issue, the Bible shows that at the end of the church age, the Lord will be outside the Laodicean church (Re. 3.20). Nonetheless, He will still be there for the individual, just as He, while on earth as the second Adam, still appealed to the individual after the nation Israel rejected His rule over the nation: “If any man will hear my voice, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Ibid.).

The final result of the apostasy will be the great ecclesiastical harlot spoken of in Revelation 17 and 18. In Revelation 17 is mystery Babylon, the apostate church (J. Vernon McGee, Revelation, Volume 1 (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1980), p. 89).

“… The church of Thyatira, described in Revelation 2.18-29, which permitted Jezebel to teach, will become the apostate church of the great tribulation. It will attain the goal of the present-day apostates of all the great systems of the world: Romanism, Protestantism, pagan religions, cults and isms. Even in our so-called independent Bible churches there will be those who are not believers, and during the tribulation they will join this great organization that may call itself a church but is not. The Bible calls it a harlot….  This is ecumenical ecclesiasticism of the one-world church….”  (Ibid., pp. 89-91)

Believers will not go through God’s wrath; they will be raptured out before the God pours out his wrath…. The rest of the church members will be left here on this earth. As Dr. George Gill used to say, some churches will meet the Sunday after the rapture and will not miss a member…. They are part of a pseudo-religious system,

True believers will be glorified (Mt. 13.36-43; Ro. 8.18-23). The Lord will rapture the dead in Christ and those who are born again: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Th. 4.16-17).

Ecclesiastical Babylon (apostate Christendom, the harlot whom many biblical scholars logically conclude will be headed up under the Papacy and which will at that time condone every iniquity of the rich and will be corrupted to the core by commercialism, wealth, and luxury) will be destroyed by political Babylon, that is by the nations; and political Babylon, the nations, will be crushed by Christ when they come against Israel at the end of the tribulation (See Re. 17.15-18). All this will happen because men choose to succumb to Satan’s principles in order to satisfy their lusts.


IX. Conclusion

The Supreme Ruler ordained churches. He gave churches—as He has given individual, family and civil governments—His Word wherein they can learn God’s guidelines which He wishes His body, His churches, as well as all other governments to follow. Satan has successfully misled most churches and other governments, and most have followed his principles. He has used false teachers from the beginning. As a result, apostasy crept into churches shortly after its inception. That apostasy has accelerated in America as the rapture and the tribulation approaches.

Many or most people in American churches today are materially rich, but spiritually poor and blind. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Re. 3.17). As He was not deceived, but His bride was, “… Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Ti. 2.14, Ro. 5.14, Ge. 3.1-6).  As the first Adam had to give up a perfect existence in order to be with his wife, so the last Adam, Christ (1 Co. 15.22, 45), stepped down from heaven to save his bride.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3.16-19).

“[Jesus], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Ph. 2.6-8).

“While the first Adam “blew it,” the last Adam would make everything right! (Romans 5:12-21) Charles Wesley set this doctrine to music with the words, ‘Second Adam from above, reinstate us with thy love.’ … “The all-important verse that connects this typology to the present Laodicean apostasy is Ecclesiastes 1:9a: ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done….’ Thus, the history of mankind will undoubtedly end the same way it began—with a bride being deceived!” (William P. Grady, How Satan Turned America Against God (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 2005), p. vii.)

Regardless of this inevitable apostasy and the events that are to follow, things are looking good for you and me—that is, if you are a Christian! A Christian, as opposed to one who is merely saved, is a saved person who also dies to self and seeks to follow God’s principles. As verified by reality and by biblical teachings, many saved people are not Christians.


Endnotes

En 1 All books, except An Abridged History of the First Amendment, by Jerald Finney are available free in both PDF and online form. One may go to Order information for books by Jerald Finney should he desire to order any of the books which are in print.

En2 The 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Matthew 4.8, p. 998: “The Greek word kosmos means ‘order,’ ‘arrangement,’ and so, with the Greeks, ‘beauty’; for order and arrangement in the sense of system are at the bottom of the Greek conception of beauty.

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