Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Opus 2023-097: The Power to Destroy

Throughout history the church has been the strongest and most dynamic when it was not in bed with the government.

Christianity had spread all through the Roman world by the time of Constantine.  During that time it had not only been unofficial but illegal and at time faced severe persecution.  It reached the capital before Paul got there and in spite of Paul’s reputation as an evangelist, the gospel spread faster than he could travel.  The church was originally made up of the poor and slaves.  In spite of all that it was strong, until legalized.  It was downhill from there.  

Once it became legal to be a Christian the typical traits of organizations started taking over.  You had a rigid hierarchy that developed.  Magnificent buildings were erected.  The level of commitment nosedived and rot set in.  Of course there was always a core of true believers but it became much like the mega churches of our day.  

When the American colonies were planted, each one established some kind of state church and supported them with tax money.  Because many people had come to the new world for religions freedom and there was a lot of unoccupied land that limitation did not hold.  Gradually accommodation was made for people starting their own churches.  The people had to be committed because they received no government support and they were not socially acceptable.

The churches continued to multiply and thrive under the Constitution.  The First Amendment makes it clear that the government was not to get into the religion business.  This enabled every discontented member to break off and start their own church without the approval of their betters.  This worked very well until the government started using the tax code to shackle the gospel.  

Now churches are tax exempt in property and income.  Gifts given to the church are a tax deduction.  It all sounds so good until your realize that the exemption is being used to control what the churches do and say.  It was a truism that “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”  I would suggest that the same can be said of the power to not tax.  All it takes is a friendly call from the IRS and a pastor can be muzzled by concerned laymen.  I used to think that the day would come when the churches would be taxed.  Now I am not so sure because it is such an effective means of manipulation.

Where are we today?  Should we welcome the threat of removal of tax exemption from the churches?  Should we initiate it?  Would you stop giving at your current level if it was no longer a deduction?  How does this relate to the warning that we cannot serve God and Mammon?

I would vote for it.  Like persecution it would help to separate the sheep from the goats.

homo unius libri

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Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.