The Christian Law Association, led by David Gibbs, Jr. of Kissimmee, Florida purports to represent five thousand fundamentalist Baptist churches across America in their battle against state encroachment at all levels. They advocate church incorporation and tax exemption as a means to keep government at bay.
Jerald Finney is an Attorney from Austin, Texas that specializes in church/state law and is counsel for the Biblical Law Center. He is the author of the outstanding church/state manual God Betrayed
(Kerygma Publishing Company).
Attorney Jerald Finney’s Rebuke of CLA
The following letter dated March 15, 2011, was sent to the Christian Law Association via e-mail by Attorney Jerald Finney, the Assistant Director of the Biblical Law Center. It pertains to an article that appeared in the Feb. 28 CLA newsletter, the Briefcase, entitled "Churches - Hope of America."
In his letter Jerald Finney makes the following comments in part:
I am an attorney in Austin TX. I was saved in 1982. Dr. Gibbs spoke at the church I attended several times. I supported CLA.
The Lord called me to the legal profession. I graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1993 and have followed the Lord in the legal profession since.
I have been involved with church and state law since 2005. Of course, in order to understand the issues, I prepared through intensive studies, starting with the Bible.
Let me qualify what I say with this proclamation: "I love you, but I love the Lord and His truth more. Because I love you, I tell you the truth."
Your advice for churches, as usual, is all wrong. The correct advice, of course, according to the Word of God, would be first, to get your principles from the Word of God. If you did that, instead of following the principles of the god of this world as reflected by the American educational, legal, business, religious, and social system, you would then encourage churches to honor their marriage relationship with our Lord. See, e.g., Eph. 5. That would require them to reorganize according to biblical principles. That would mean getting out from under their second head, the civil government. In other words, reorganize as spiritual rather than legal entities such as corporate 501c3 religious organizations. Reorganize so that our Lord is their only Head…
Second, you should encourage churches to fulfill the great commission. That is our first mission, not the social gospel. Of course, when one follows God's commandments to love God and his fellow man, he will also do good works. Do you not recall that the gospel is the "power of God unto salvation to the Jew first, and also to the Greek"?
Sadly, I have discovered though intense Holy Spirit led study of the Bible first, then history and law, that CLA and most "Christian" law firms and lawyers are largely to blame for the tragic state of churches in America. CLA and its attorneys have done irreparable damage to the cause of Christ.
You can still repent and use your power for our Lord. Although largely because of your efforts, Christianity and our churches will more and more come under attack, you can still become a force for truth. I beg you to do so.
For His Glory,
Jerald Finney, believer, BBA, JD
Comments by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
National Director of the Biblical Law Center
Serious errors in the CLA article
Any Baptist junior high Sunday school student should be able to see the glaring Biblical errors in the CLA article entitled “Churches: The Hope of America.” How any Baptist church could continue supporting such an organization as this with their finances after reading such an article would show the doctrinal weakness of that pastor and church.
Paul the Apostle speaks of those who come with "another gospel" which we "have not received" [2 Cor. 11:4]. Paul also told the Ephesian Elders that there would be those whom "[a]lso of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" [Acts 20:30].
Error # 1 - CLA - "Churches and non-profits are the same." This is a fundamental difference between the BLC (Biblical Law Center) and the CLA. The BLC makes a clear distinction between a New Testament church (unregistered) and a 501(c)(3) state church (non profit corporation or unincorporated association (508(a) and a religious non profit para-church organization). Even the IRS makes a distinction between a non-profit church and a non-profit organization. The church doesn't have to file form 1023 (to receive the exemption or file an annual form 990 financial disclosure form).
Error # 2 - CLA - "American churches are less respected and less appreciated than our founders intended, hence, less respected in society." Well, let's go suck our thumbs. What should we expect? Our Lord said, "behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves;" He said, "But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues (an assembly of men); The Disciples "…departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name;" Paul said, "…then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." We better listen to the Lord Jesus - "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets."
Error # 3 - CLA - "Previously, churches in America were not taxed because the government believed they provided a valuable resource for society by their very existence." This is pure hogwash. They didn't tax them because of the religious clauses of the first amendment, and churches were not tax exempt, but nontaxable, and government recognized their God ordained position. But when churches gave up their first amendment guarantees for benefits, i.e. tax-exemption (a privilege from government) and got in bed with government like a prostitute, then government had no respect for the bride of Christ any longer. John the Baptist did "no miracle" and they cut his head off; the Lord Jesus healed practically everyone in Galilee, raised the dead, filled hungry bellies, brought peace to untold thousands of homes, and they hung him on a cross. When the church does its prophetic ministry in crying out against sin, i.e. personal life style of people, worldly amusements, abortion, sodomy, gambling, blasphemy, drunkenness, drugs, socialism, public education, forced unionism, political corruption in high places, the IRS, ecumenism, it won't make any difference how many soup kitchens they set up, the authorities will find a way to close that church down. The issue has always been the same, give "licit" (license) to Caesar. Just give the pinch of incense and measure your message.
Error # 4 - CLA - "The church civilized its members and made them good citizens. The church cared for the poor and distressed. Government wanted to make sure churches had as much revenue as possible to carry out these important non-governmental functions." - This is like some woman wanting her husband to get enough religion to sober up and not beat her and bring his pay check home, but not so much as to start tithing and giving to missions and the building fund. Government has always been jealous of the church. That's why the church should have depended on the tithes and offerings of God's people and not on the tax exemption, tax deductible gifts and now the Faith Based direct gifts from government. The Supreme Court, in the Bob Jones Case, said clearly that tax exemption is "government subsidy." As such, it is a clear violation of the scriptures. III John v-7- "Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles."
Error # 5 - CLA - "Some in the federal government have even suggested that donations to churches and nonprofit groups should no longer be tax exempt." This is a correct statement, just incorrect biblically. Our unregistered churches have voluntarily given up tax exemption and the tax deductible gift because we want our God-given rights guaranteed by the first amendment and religious clauses of the various state constitutions. We are the ones that truly believe in the true doctrine of the separation of church and state. CLA is trying to keep the churches shackled by the chains of tyranny which our Baptist forebears broke over 225 years ago with bleeding backs and chains and bars.
Error # 6 - CLA - "Churches must continue to 'earn' their favored status as the best citizens in any local community." CLA's example of earning this "favored status" is doing things like, picking up trash on streets, highways, beaches or parks in their neighborhoods, cleaning up abandoned parks, assisting low income families in your neighborhood, establishing food banks, soup kitchens, thrift shops, and addiction programs, etc. "Take refreshments periodically to legislative meetings to bless local officials. Be sure to do this at a time when the church does not have an ultimate motive of seeking a favor."
All of this is nothing but the pure social gospel espoused by liberalism and liberal churches for years. In the first place, New Testament churches do not have to "earn" rights guaranteed by the First Amendment by doing acts of slavery for our masters. This is for religious organizations and incorporated, tax exempt not-for-profit churches that have jumped in bed with their lover, government, for benefits and privileges. They no longer serve their lover the Lord Jesus Christ, in the work of reaching the souls of men; they are now driven out to be slaves of the state to do menial tasks that their servants did at one time.
Where in the Bible does it say that the church is to feed the world? The world can't even feed the world. "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" [James1:27]. In fact, the Bible even gives strict instructions for widows who are to be helped by the church "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed." [1 Tim 5:16].
As to "seeking a favor" from government, when did the Lord's church have to go to government with hat in hand to "seek a favor" for them to make sure that the Lord's church is guaranteed her God given rights that our forefathers bled and died for, and those bleeding feet at Valley Forge were frozen off for? David Gibbs should bow his head in shame.
The CLA article continues, "These suggestions are all Scriptural commands and expectations." And then it gives the real motive for the article by saying, "the reward will be the regaining of respect for the church in America and more money kept in the church's pocket for its own ministry."
In other words, if the church will be good little boys, and curry the favor of the civic leaders and be good little state churches and the preacher will be a good mixer and not make too many waves and the ladies of the church will bring cookies and pink lemonade to the city council meetings, we just might not tax you, and we just might not regulate you out of existence, and we just might let you keep your property, etc. God deliver us from this 'pablum puke' religion.
Error # 7 - America is Founded on the Calvinist Foundation of Religious Liberty - "Ours is the only country deliberately founded on a good idea. That good idea combines a commitment to man's inalienable rights with the Calvinist belief in an ultimate moral right and sinful man's obligation to do good. These articles of faith, embodied in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution, literally govern our lives today."
There has never been a bigger falsehood perpetrated on the American people than this revisionist position of history spawned by the likes of Peter Marshal, David Barton, David Gibbs, Jr., Glenn Beck, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Bill Gothard, Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian College and most "Christian Colleges" today along with most schools of thought today. The Calvinist Reformed Protestants, prior to the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the forming of the Constitution of the United States of America with its subsequent Bill of Rights, established a Church State system in every colony in America with the exception of Rhode Island, that lasted in Massachusetts until 1833, nearly forty years after the federal bill of rights was ratified.
Under that wicked system, our Baptist forebears, Quakers, and other non-conformists were beaten, tortured, jailed, taxed out of homes, farms, and household goods. Benjamin Merrill, a Baptist in North Carolina, for the cause of liberty, heard the sentence of death. "He was to be hanged by the neck, and then he was to be cut down while yet alive; his bowels taken out while yet alive and burnt before his face. And then his head was to be cut off and his body was to be divided into four quarters, and this be at his Majesty's disposal; and the Lord have mercy on your soul." Four Quakers were hanged in Massachusetts before England intervened.
This is the kind of "Christian" charity that Calvinist Reformed theology produced before the influence of the Baptists, who founded the only Colony and later the state that offered total religious liberty, which was Rhode Island. CLA gives credit to Calvin for the idea of "inalienable rights." It was the Baptists that talked primarily about "inalienable rights." It was the Baptists whose principles of Republicanism and soul liberty influenced those ten Bill of rights. It was the Baptists whose stubborn refusal to support the new constitution until there was an effective religious liberty amendment, guaranteeing liberty for all, based on the principles of inalienable rights, when they threw their weight behind ratification.
Conclusion: CLA makes one powerful point when they say: Government now looks at churches, not as cultural partners and service providers, but as sources of additional revenue. When did the churches become "cultural partners"? The church became a partner with the state when she became the states' 'mistress' through incorporation and traded her non-taxable position for tax-exemption. It was when she played the harlot and took a lover.
John, writing to the church at Thyatira put it like this in Revelation 2:18-29 -
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
And I will give him the morning star.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
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