Diocletian came to the throne, but by this time, the Roman Empire was gasping for breath. Inflation was rampant, so like most incompetent politicians, he instituted wage and price controls. Of course, shortages immediately resulted. As the economy began to collapse, Diocletian persecuted the Christians, trying to divert the peoples’ attention from the sick and dying economy. Then, in 305, he abdicated, the first emperor to do so.
In 312, Constantine became the emperor, and he soon made Christianity a lawful religion. I am convinced that he was a hypocrite, and was one of the worse things to happen to the churches.
Yes, things started going better for the suffering Christians, but from our present perspective, Constantine was not a blessing but a curse. The Christians settled down and relaxed, and began to prosper. They built church buildings (the first in the Third Century), and began to amass silver and gold. Slowly, the harlot church began to take shape in Rome, and by 381, Theodosius I made Christianity the official state religion.
During this time, the authorities reached out and gave the church a big hug and the church, liking the unexpected embrace, hugged back. And thus began the love-affair of the ages. The politicians and preachers were now in bed with each other and have been for about 1600 years.
Soft, present day church leaders who are not in bed with government at least see government as the final authority. And along with that “fact” goes our obligation to “obey every law of man.”
Pious Puppets in our pulpits tell us to obey every law of man, but they must not be reading the same Bible I read. I agree with Francis Schaeffer who wrote in Christian Manifesto, “The bottom line is that at a certain point there is not only the right, but the duty, to disobey the state.”
I suggest that time is now. It is time for Christians to resist, not revolt, but resist the government’s intrusion into our homes, schools, and churches. And it is time for preachers to take the leadership in this matter. They have stood in safe shadows long enough.
Pastors often think that the early Christians’ refusal to obey the laws is too far removed from us today to be a pattern for us in our present danger. They are wrong! There are many later examples such as Jonathan Blanchard, first president of Wheaton College (don’t look there for leadership today) and Charles Finney, president of Oberlin College (repeat previous parentheses) who were involved in the slavery issue, calling Christians to get involved.
Both Blanchard and Finney believed in civil disobedience. Finney wrote in his Systematic Theology, “There can scarcely be a more abominable and fiendish maxim than ‘our country right or wrong.’” He then said that not everything a government does should be supported. He included the Mexican War and slavery, but he went much further when he suggested that there is a “right and duty of revolution.” That thought, just the thought, makes most preachers reach for a handful of Tums.
Modern-day preachers would have been critical of the Methodist minister who was arrested while leading in prayer for an anti-slavery society in New England. Most Bible preachers today would not have attended that anti-slavery rally lest they be identified with certified “nuts” like John Brown. Just because Brown was anti-slavery, did not mean that everyone who spoke against that evil was a nut like Brown.. Brown was a few French fries short of a Happy Meal.
Does not the Constitution clearly prohibit the government from making any law restricting religion? Does not the ability to tax actually mean the ability to destroy? I thought most of us believed in the separation of church and state (but not separation of God and state), but if so, how can any government entity presume to tax the church? After all, a “higher” always taxes a “lower,” and will any Bible believer maintain that government is over the Church of the Living God? I thought Christ was preeminent over all things.
Will a Bible church take money given for Christian purposes and give it to Caesar? Well, Jesus did say to give unto Caesar what belongs to him and unto God what belongs to Him; however, Jesus was giving that command to persons not churches. If a church will pay an income tax to the government are they admitting that the church is a business like the local pizza parlor? And what will be the limit of the tax? Sure, they could pay 1% of income but what will they plead when the tax is 10% or more? You can’t plead convictions because convictions would not permit you to pay any percent.
If the government is over the Church of God, I’d like to know when it took place. Someone will remind us that churches receive benefits from government such as police and fire protection, garbage pick-up, etc., but then the members have paid for those benefits as individuals.
No, churches must not, under any conditions, pay taxes. After all, the power to tax is the power to destroy (or control). Wouldn’t it be ironic for Bible-believing Christians to participate in an effort to dig out the foundations of the church in an attempt to “do the right thing”? The “right thing” is for churches to maintain their sovereignty and refuse to pay taxes even when church leaders are dragged off to jail, and when church buildings are sold at public auction to pay the illegal tax on God. Sounds tough, but Christ didn’t promise us a rose garden–only a cross but we have to pick it up.
1 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
Let’s say my husband and I are in agreement with the idea that the Lord’s Church is non-taxable. But, we are probably the only couple within a 50 mile radius to see this and our 501c3 church leadership will not likely agree to get out of the 501c3. Is it more biblical to leave and find a house church (or?) or to stay at the corporation called the church and attempt to contend for this? Columbia SC