Tax Exemption vs. The Whole Counsel of God

Just by reading the title, we already know which side the denominations have taken.

Therefore, we will have to prepare for the continued worship and preaching of the Word of God, and the instruction of God’s Law to our community and children, long after the denominations — and the entire guild of religious experts — has turned into so much blowing dust.

One huge positive: the seminaries will be gone. A massive step in the right direction! The end of our pre-broken, failure-fixated, trained-to-lose, hopelessly crippled Christian leadership means a genuine shot for the actual expansion of God’s Kingdom in the West, not just in the East and the South!

From Christian Education: Tax Exemption vs. The Whole Counsel of God

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TAX EXEMPTION VS. THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD

By David H. Chilton

[…]

Consider the case of a prominent evangelical church—let’s call it the “Free Church”—where the pastor is legitimately considered one of the most gifted Bible teachers in the country. He is a theological and political conservative, a Calvinist whose exposition on Romans 9 is better than that of Charles Hodge. What more could a church ask for? Incredibly, the church has a serious problem: it is enslaved to the state. Here’s how it happened.

The Free Church recently constructed a beautiful new building, at a seven-figure price. Naturally, they didn’t have the money, so they went into debt—mistake No. 1. “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov. 22:7); the church is no longer really “free.” But there’s more. To help finance the debt, the Free Church leaders asked the members to purchase interest-bearing notes, redeemable after a specified time, to be repaid out of the future receipts of the church. (This common practice, incidentally, is specifically prohibited by Scripture—Deut. 23:19-20—but then the word “Free” in the church’s name ought to stand for something.)

Now comes the sticky part. Every year, the church files an innocent-looking form with the State of California, amounting to an annual request for tax exemption. The state requires that any church receiving such exemption must not attempt “to influence legislation or any ballot measure.” For violating this mandate, some churches have already had their property confiscated. The Free Church officers are aware of this problem, and are taking definite action: bowing, scraping and kissing up. The pastor doesn’t preach against abortion, ERA, homosexuality, ungodly taxation or inflationary banking policies. He can’t afford to: his beautiful, heavily mortgaged temple might get taken away. Or at least they could lose their tax exemption, and it’s hard enough getting people to donate now—what would happen if the donors couldn’t claim deductions? The church’s receipts would drop. And if the cash flow stopped, the church wouldn’t be able to pay its debts to the bank and the usurious church members. Then the church would default, go bankrupt, and lose the property anyway. So the pastor keeps quiet. The whole counsel of God is not preached. The church of Jesus Christ is enslaved. Of course, the pastor does have some freedom—all slaves do, within limits. But the Master defines the limits of the slave’s freedom. Where the state defines the church and its legitimate functions, there you have a state church.

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I’d like to stress this part:

“The pastor doesn’t preach against abortion, ERA, homosexuality, ungodly taxation or inflationary banking policies. He can’t afford to: his beautiful, heavily mortgaged temple might get taken away…  So the pastor keeps quiet. The whole counsel of God is not preached. The church of Jesus Christ is enslaved. Of course, the pastor does have some freedom—all slaves do, within limits. But the Master defines the limits of the slave’s freedom. Where the state defines the church and its legitimate functions, there you have a state church.”

All slaves have some freedom. But, it’s the Master who defines the limits of the slave’s freedom.

We ought to have just one Master: God, who is in Heaven.

Not Powerful and Wealthy Men – or the rotting God-State that they control.

“Lots of power, and guns, and rules, and shrieking media mouths.
But also declining authority, and even less legitimacy.”

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Routinely, the state churches receive “comforting” and “how-to-cope” sermons in periods of disaster—but only rarely (and then vaguely) do the pastors instruct the people about the causes of disaster, which are often related to the apostasy of those who claim to be God’s people.

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Sure, the godless State is a lawless Beast…

…but an evil Ruling Class reflects an evil population.

All nations — but especially democratic nations! — really DO get the leadership they deserve.

It will be up to the Body of Christ – and not the hopelessly compromised denominations and studiously irrelevant religious institutions of today – who will have to turn the situation around.

The population will have to be led to repentance by God’s people. There can be no salvation, unless the Word is preached.

But, I can confident that the average Joe will never repent, until we, the People of God, FIRST repent of our own sins.

Not just repent, but change our ways, take obedience to the Law of God seriously and personally, and rise to be the holy people we are called to be.

We need to become worthy servants, walking in the way the Holy Spirit directs.

Not worthless ones, fit only for the flames.

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The second consequence of apostasy, however (8:11-14), was to be even more severe: a famine, not of bread or water only, “but of hearing the words of the Lord.” God’s response to those who neglect His word is to simply deprive them of it. Without revelation, there is no hope, for the individual or for his culture. Those who acknowledge the state’s authority to define the faith, Amos says, “shall fall, and never rise again.” Note well: It is not the oppressive acts of godless governments that cause the famine, but the flight of those who claim to serve God.

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Let’s repeat that last bit for emphasis, shall we?

“It is not the oppressive acts of godless governments that cause the famine, but the flight of those who claim to serve God.”

It is not Pagan wickedness, but Christian cowardice, that delivers victory into the hands of the monsters, the serpents, the dogs, and the beasts.

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Last January, a group of Christian leaders issued a “Christian Declaration,” denouncing the evils of the state in terms of Biblical law. A prominent, “born-again,” socialistic Senator from the Northwest was outraged at the audacity of these Christians in attacking his god. He and other statists threatened the believers that, unless they backed down, the tax-exempt status of their movement would come under close scrutiny. That’s all it took. Faster than you can say “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” the reformers dropped their little manifesto. Out the window went the word of God and Christian reconstruction, but the church property was saved.

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No doubt, those deeply religious leaders were proud that they saved their income streams and protected church property. “Church wealth and land and institutional authority IS the Church, and it is the Church that is at the CORE of the Kingdom of God!”

God has no time for insipid mystery cults, and their big, impressive temples.

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At least, in faithfulness to God, you should determine to do this much: Regardless of the cost, never allow the state to dictate the content or method of your teaching in church or school. Speak to the issues. Influence legislation. Throw out the rascals, and vote in the good guys. Make an impact on society, and turn the world upside down (i.e., right side up). Won’t that make the statists mad? Yes. Couldn’t we get taken to court and thrown in jail? Yes. Just like in the Book of Acts, when the believers realized that “we must obey God rather than men.” The conflict will escalate in this decade, and we had better make a clear stand now, while the heat is relatively mild, than set precedents for compromise.

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We must obey God, rather than men.

Those Christians who disagree ought to be shown the door, as the idolatrous power-worshippers they are.

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.”

The Door is Right There.

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The obvious drawback is that this costs money, which is always the main issue in Christian circles. “Sure, Jesus said we should take up our crosses and follow Him, but He didn’t say anything about giving up our tax benefits!” We all want the faith as cheap as we can get it, but we have to face facts: resistance to an ungodly state is a necessary cost of Christianity. And to get the state off our backs, we dumped the benefits. It just makes it harder for them to get us. They may get us anyway—but they’ll get you first.

[…]

It helps that we have really nothing to tax. The church owns no property—we meet in homes. If we get too big, we’ll either find a bigger home, or have a good old church split (which reminds me of the church that had a revival—they didn’t add any new members, just got rid of a few old ones). A church that is regularly dividing and multiplying in smaller groups is probably more healthy anyway: it increases the members’ responsibility, and discourages clerical tyranny.

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Some good thinking, here.

Note that Chilton was writing in November 1980: some young, lean and hungry types — who have a better grip on modern technology than I do — can think of more ways to efficiently get more work done.

But don’t neglect the physical world either, or the power of a face-to-face meeting.

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