April 12, 2024

Should a Church Be Incorporated?

Harry Bethel has the following as part of his checklist to show us why there are no God-Ordained ministers in our churches today on his site BethelMinistries.com:

A God-sent pastor would accept and apply the doctrines of separation from the world and would not seek a charter from a state or other government, nor would the “church” be incorporated. We are in the world, but we are not of the world and the civil governments should have no control over, or sanction, a scripturally organized local church.

Certainly he’s right when he says that we are in the world but not of it.  However, there’s also this interesting passage in Romans 13:

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 [dang]ation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

This passage certainly doesn’t let the Christian off easily– especially in a democracy.  Honor, fear, custom and tribute is due to even the elected officials that you do not agree with.

However, this passage clearly states that we are to be subject to the higher powers– the government.  This is not just personally, but our churches as well.  There is something rebellious or interesting about the concept of being out of the government’s reach– and yet we are commanded to do that which is lawful (in this case, incorporation) because it does not contradict the law of Christ, nor does it stop us from preaching the truth.

Should the time come where the government tells Pastors what they can and can’t say, I believe that you will find many saying what they believe anyway.

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5 thoughts on “Should a Church Be Incorporated?

  1. “We are in the world, but we are not of the world and the civil governments should have no control over, or sanction, a scripturally organized local church.” – Incorporating does not give anyone control over the church. Yes, you are registered so the state knows you exist. If you fill out the paperwork for 501(c) status donations to you are even tax deductible. As for “sanctioning” the chuch, I wouldn’t evens say that incorporating does this. It simply defines the legal and tax entity of the church. While the tax laws are based off of what type of entity you are registered as, even Jesus suggests that we should pay taxes. Certainly Bethel can not say that biblically we should not pay taxes. That being the case, the paperwork filed for the chuch simply states what type of laws the church is going to fall under. Its not asking for sanctioning, or permission to meet. At the time when/if it comes to this maybe incorporating might become an issue. In the meantime these legal forms help protect the church.

  2. I will go so far as to say that tax exemption can cause a church some difficulty, but that it rarely does. Some Christian entities have had trouble because of Biblical stands they have taken in the past. Then there’s the whole “you can’t get involved in politics and voting and be tax exempt” concept that’s been flauted from time to time.

    In any case, you’re right DLOGAN, there’s no problem registering yourself to get a driver’s license, a hunter’s permit or to register your church for the tax statements or to give a basic framework. If the government comes in and tells you what you can and cannot say and do we have another issue on our hands.

  3. The [government] has started to tell the church what they can and cannot say. It is now a hate crime to tell people homosexuality is wrong. According to your line of thought, we must do what the government says. I say not. “Homesexuality is an abomination to the Lord” according to the bible.
    According to the constitution money tithed to a church is tax deductible as I understand it. So in this day and age why would you let the government get involved in the church. If you are tithing for a tax deduction you are tithing for the wrong reason anyway.
    It is not being rebellious to God if you do not do what the government says and it goes against God’s word. Anyway do you think Jesus was not rebellious. Think again as he took on the sanhedrin and spoke against the roman empire.

    1. There’s a line in there somewhere– where a church should comply up to a point. Once the government dictates doctrine, the church needs to stand for truth.

  4. The passage above says “Let every soul be subject to the higher power, for there is no power but of God…”
    A soul refers to the individual, a person, a man, a woman, or a child. The Church on the other hand is a Body. The Church is not an individual, and should under no circumstances be subject to the State. John 3:31 says “He that is from above is above all.” The Church is the Body of Jesus Christ who came from above. No man or system has the right to subject the Church of Jesus Christ to anything that obtains here on earth.

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