Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tax Exempt 'Church' ?

My Thoughts So Far
Call it a 'Not-For-Profit Organization', a 501(c)(3) status (IRS code), a corporation, or whatever other labels that get put on a church once it registers to comply with the state, is it still the Church after all of that?

I've always had my suspicions but have been putting off any serious judgments and at the same time, hoping that this argument was all based on trivial semantics; you know, financial pragmatism and theological irrelevance as we "give Caesar his due".

However, thanks to the Castleman, who recently posed this question over at The PUB, I have finally stopped putting off any serious thoughts about this. I've reached the conclusion, so far, that compliance with this IRS code is a serious breach of contract between the Church and the head of the Church. How much of a problem this is I am still debating, but so far, it does NOT look good for those of us in the Church who have bought into the tax exempt church status.

For now, I will just post here what was said on The PUB, and me and Castleman both, and hopefully others, would love to hear your opinions about this. Please leave comments, suggestions, arguments pro or con, either here or on The PUB. I for one can't ignore this issue any more. Thanks...


About the tax exempt status of our church? Is this a biblical thing?

We keep hearing about us living in a country were the church is free to worship. What if we got rid of the tax exempt status? How long would it take until our government try to put a stop to our church?


Well, after reading this article and this article, both by Chuck Baldwin, I'm not so sure that the gov't would try to "stop" us if all we did was give up our tax exempt 501c3 status. However, I do think that the 501c3 status is immoral in and of itself, because it reduces the church to a corporation:

A business firm whose articles of incorporation have been approved by the government.

A legal entity chartered by a US state or the federal government, and separate and distinct from the persons who own it. It is regarded by the courts as an artificial person; it may own property, incur debts, sue or be sued.

Furthermore, section 501(c)(3) organizations are restricted by the government:

"It may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."

"It may not be an ACTION organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation."

Haha! The Church has agreed not to take action. Hahaha! What kind of Church doesn't take action? Doesn't work? Doesn't build? Doesn't walk? Doesn't fight? Doesn't DO anything? Isn't faith without works, dead?

If these definitions of a 501(c)(3) church don't bother you as a Christian, then it can only be because you're not seeing the implications.

Everything we do, either as a church, a family, or an individual, is "legislated" to one degree or another. If the church enters into "covenant" with the state, agreeing with the state that it will have nothing to do with legislation, it is literally bound to the state not to be of any influence on the culture, or to the people in that culture. Hey, I think our church families are part of this culture that we are not supposed to influence!

You might say, well, we can influence the culture "as citizens", instead.

But WHY? Where is the line drawn between citizen and church member? Who draws that line? This line is arbitrary, unclear, and can be manipulated anytime the "State" wants to move it around to benefit their own agenda. We already see limitations of actions placed on citizens more and more, let alone the Church. Why take action on the foundation of a "citizen" as defined by the "State", when we can take action from a much more SURE FOUNDATION as the Church? The foundation of the Church is SOLID and cannot be mannipulated by man.

I understand that this is the extreme example, but it really is the literal and logical conclusion of entering into such a covenant with the state. My understanding is that the Church can only enter into covenant with her Lord, Jesus Christ. It's one thing to 'respect the laws and customs of the land', but it's quite another to sign away the Lordship of Jesus Christ over to the state.

Another conclusion that can be drawn or inferred, is that we have asked the "State" for permission to exist as a fictional entity, called a corporation, instead of as the Church. And not only that, we have willfully agreed with the "State" that we will NOT FUNCTION as the Church, but only function as a "nonprofit organization" as created, defined, regulated, and enforced by the "State".

When you look at it like that, we are pretty pathetic...not to mention idolatrous, immoral, compromised, humanistic, and lovers of the world instead of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of course...cowards:

coward cow'ard adj.
WORD HISTORY: A coward is one who “turns tail.” The word comes from Old French couart, coart, “coward,” and is related to Italian codardo, “coward.” Couart is formed from coe, a northern French dialectal variant of cue, “tail” (from Latin c?da), to which the derogatory suffix –ard was added. This suffix appears in bastard, laggard, and sluggard, to name a few. A coward may also be one with his tail between his legs. In heraldry a lion couard, “cowardly lion,” was depicted with his tail between his legs. So a coward may be one with his tail hidden between his legs or one who turns tail and runs like a rabbit, with his tail showing.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not preaching from some high horse here. I can frequently be a coward myself. This is just one thing that I can objectively look at in the above way, and see clearly that the 501(c)(3) status is a cowardly position for the Church to take. Shame on us.

And why is this important? Because until the Church can admit this, we will have no reason to repent and change it. Yes, it's the old denial thing. We have to first admit we are sinners and that we have sinned by agreeing with the government that we will not function as the Church, (as defined by God), and determine to shed the bonds of this grevious sin one way or another without looking back.

So do you want more Scripture applied to this scenario? Me to. I find some interesting Biblical principles that we can apply from 1 Corinthians 6:1-8:

1 If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?
2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?
3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!
5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?
6 But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

I am looking at this from the perspective of judging. When we try to choose, as Christians, whether we should influence the culture as a citizen (as defined by the State), or as a Christian, (a member of God's Church), we are talking about a position of judgment. If I wish to influence something, I must do it with judgment, or discernment. Do I do this as a citizen, or as a member of the Church? It does make a difference. Can I do both? Should I do both? Can we be both a 501(c)(3) organization AND the Church at the same time?

I'm sure there may be some superficial aspects to this where we could say 'yes', if it furthers the purposes of God, but on the principles of integrity and character, it is more consistent and honest to say 'no'. This leaves no room for compromise. We should not, as a foundation of who we are, try to be two different people. This is better known as being two-faced.

I believe the above passage makes my point very well. Paul makes a clear case that judgments made by Saints and as Saints, are far superior to judgments coming from the world. Of course he is speaking of an "inside" issue amongst believers, but he makes it clear here that the "competence" of the Saints to judge, is superior enough to judge "the world", as well as angels. NOT competent as a citizen, but competent as, a Saint!

You cannot argue, in my opinion, that Paul is speaking about some future time when we will be competent enough as Saints to judge the world, because he specifically says that if we can do that, then we should be compenent enough to "judge trivial cases", (verse 2). He clearly implies that this competence (as saints), is already available to us. Otherwise, why would he make this comparison? If we were not already competent enough to judge the world, then this would be an unfair comparison and burden Paul was placing on the Saints here if they really were NOT that competent yet, and at the same time, expecting them to be exactly this competent in a trival case within the Church.

So, my point is, the Bible says our foundation to judge and to therefore influence the world, and to be salt and light, and to be wise, is all based on our position of being Saints and members of God's Church. Why would we want to be anything less or to be identified as anything less? Do we give up our rightful inheritance by taking inferior positions as defined by men, such as citizen, ficticious corporation, non-profit organization, or as anything else at all as defined by the State? We are NOT any of these things, but we are the Saints of God, as defined by God.

The more I look at this and analyze this, the more convinced I am becoming that for a Church to participate in the 501(c)(3) program, is a very unGodly and therefore undesirable, position for the Church to take. Thanks Castleman for bringing this up. It's causing me to "sermonwrite" and reflect on God's position about this topic like I never have before.

Don't forget about the Alternative News Feeds over in the right column. We really can't believe a word we hear from the mainstream news media.

2 Cor 10:4-6
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.

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