An Informed Christian Response to the Article, “IRS Again Pressured To Hammer U.S. Churches”

Jerald Finney
August 25, 2017

This brief article is an informed Christian reply to an articles, IRS Again Pressured To Hammer U.S. Churches, and Trump Relaxes 501(c)(3) Political Activity Rules. Churches who violate the rules that come with Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) status should – subject to challenge presented to their chosen authority, the government court – have their tax exemption revoked. They agreed to the rules when they voluntarily and contrary to First Amendment and Bible principles sought and obtained 501(c) status. President Trump has no power to cancel the rules that come with 501(c)(3). Only the legislature can do so, subject to Presidential agreement and signing of legislation. The issue is one of authority. Christ wants to be the only Head of His churches (See, e.g., Ephesians and Colossians).

This article is written and being disseminated to both sides for the glory of God. I have contacted Freedom From Religion Foundation and encouraged them to go to this article for Biblical, historical, and legal arguments which support their position. It is time that Christians face the consequences for their hypocritical betrayal of our Lord by seeking and gaining legal entity status of any kind (incorporation, 501c3 or 508 status, unincorporated association status, etc.). This is being done in accordance with Bible principles.

I have covered the reasons – Biblical, historical, and legal – for this position in my writings which are available online. The following articles deal with the issue and link to materials which give more in depth analysis of Bible principles, history, and law:

A complete listing of articles is on the Articles tab of Separation of Church and State Law website.

For a short book on this, see Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entitiesor, for more complete analysis, see God Betrayed/The Biblical Principles and the American ApplicationBoth are available online free in both online form (which has the all additions and minor revisions), and PDF, or may be ordered. The second edition of Separation of Church and State is available in PDF only.

Here are some specific writings that explain church 501c3 status:

A good law review article on the tax exemption for churches is:

“Prohibition in Search of a Rationale: What the Tax Code Prohibits; Why; to What End?” (Deirdre Dessingue, Prohibition in Search of a Rationale: What the Tax Code Prohibits; Why; To What End?, 42 B.C.L. Rev. 903 (2001), http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol42/iss4/6)(PDF at http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2186&context=bclr)(Abstract: Each Presidential election renews the thorny debate over the appropriate role of churches and other religious organizations in American political life. Although churches are subject to other restraints on political activity, the prohibition on church political activity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code is the harshest in terms of penalties. Faced with the extraordinary scope of the prohibition as interpreted by the IRS, and perceived non-enforcement of egregious violations, churches tend toward one or two extremes: they either ignore the prohibition and endorse candidates or they avoid legitimate involvement with important policy issues.)”

For links to more Law Review Articles, click here.

2 Timothy

Click here to go to “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” from other books of the Bible.

Contents:

INTRODUCTION
THEME
SPECIAL FEATURE: “Swan Song” of the Apostle
OUTLINE
NOTES

NOTE. For more details see, McGee, 2 Timothy. This study is taken from that book with significant modifications mainly dealing with organization and method aligned to Bible principle and teaching. The study is also available online in audio at: 2 Timothy

DATE A.D. 67

INTRODUCTION

The following is an approximate calendar of events which will orient us to the position that this second epistle to Timothy occupied in the ministry of the Apostle Paul.

  • A.D. 58 Paul was apparently arrested in Jerusalem
  • A.D. 61 This is the approximate time that Paul arrived in Rome. He had spent three years in prison, going from one trial to another before different Roman rulers.
  • A.D. 61-63 Paul underwent his first Roman imprisonment. We do not have this recorded in the book of Act, which breaks off at the very beginning of Paul’s first Roman imprisonment
  • 2Ti.2.15_3A.D. 64-67 Paul was released from prison, and during this period Paul covered a great deal of territory. It was during this time that he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus from Macedonia.
  • A.D. 67 Paul was arrested again.
  • A.D 68 Paul was beheaded in Rome. Before his death he wrote 2 Timothy.

The 2 verses that state the theme and sound the tone of the 2nd epistle are these:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

2Ti.4.1-2

2 Timothy, (in common with 2 Peter, Jude, and 2 and 3 John) has to do with the personal walk and true testimony of a servant of Christ in a day of apostasy and declension.

THEME

You can, Dr. McGee asserts, emphasize one word here above other words: loyalty.

  1. Loyalty in suffering (chapter 1)
  2. Loyalty in service (chapter 2)
  3. Loyalty in apostasy (chapters 3-4.5)
  4. Lord loyal to His servants in desertion (chapters 4.6-4.22).

SPECIAL FEATURE: “Swan Song” of the Apostle

[These comments of Dr. McGee were made sometime before his death in 1988.]

This is the final communication of Paul. It has a note of sadness which is not detected in his other epistles. Nevertheless, there is a note of triumph: 2 Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Because this was his last letter, Paul was very personal. He refers to 25 individuals in these four short chapters.

In this book, an ominous dark cloud is seen on the horizon. It is the coming apostasy. Today, apostasy has broken like a storm, like a Texas tornado, on the world and in the churches. Webster defines apostasy as “total desertion of the principles of faith.” So apostasy is not due to ignorance; it is a heresy. Apostasy is deliberate error. It is intentional departure from the faith. An apostate is one who knows the truth of the gospel and the doctrines of the faith, but he has repudiated them.

Paul here in 2 Timothy speaks of the ultimate outcome of gospel preaching. The final fruition will not be the total conversion of mankind, nor will it usher in the millennium. On the contrary, there will come about an apostasy which will well-nigh blot out the faith from the earth. In fact, there are two departures that will occur at the end of the age: One is the departure from the faith. Luke 18:8  “… Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” This, in context demands a negative answer. The other is the departure of believers, those who are members of the family of God, which is what we call the “rapture. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

This view is not in keeping with the social gospel today which expects to transform the world by tinkering with the social system. Such vain optimists have no patience with the doleful words of 2 Timothy. The cold and hard facts of history and the events of the present hour demonstrate the accuracy of Paul. We are now in the midst of an apostasy which is cut to the pattern of Paul’s words in remarkable detail.

Most churches have entered the orbit of an awful apostasy. A remnant of New Testament churches is not affected. All members of the family of God are on their way to glory. I believe that many true believers attend apostate churches, not knowing enough about Bible principles to know of the apostasies of the churches they attend. For example, many believers attend corporate 501c3 churches without understanding that such status grieves our Lord who “loved the church and gave himself for it.” Those pastors, leaders, “Christian” lawyers, etc. are either apostates (know the truth but depart from it) or do not know the truth.

Because of the threat of apostasy, Paul emphasizes the Word of God here more than he does in any other epistle. In fact, both Paul and Peter agree. Each of them in his “swan song” (2 Timothy and 2 Peter) emphasizes the Word of God and the Gospel.

My friend, the gospel rests upon a tremendous fact, and that fact is the total depravity of man. In other words, man is  a lost sinner. Someone has put it like this:

  • “Where education assumes that the moral nature of man is capable of improvement, traditional Christianity assumes that the moral nature of man is corrupt and absolutely bad. Where it is assumed in education that an outside human agent may be instrumental in the moral improvement of men, in traditional Christianity it is assumed that the agent is God, and even so, the moral nature of man is not improved but exchanged for a new one.”

Man is in such a state that he cannot be saved by perfect obedience—because he cannot render it.  Neither can he be saved by imperfect obedience—because God will not accept it.

Therefore, the only solution is the gospel of the grace of God which reaches down and saves the sinner on the basis of the death and resurrection of Christ. Faith in Christ transforms human life. We have a showcase today all over this land of a relatively small number of men and women who have been transformed by the gospel of the grace of God.

Liberal preaching, instead of presenting the grace of God to sinful man, goes out in three different directions. From some liberal pulpits we hear what is really popular psychology. It majors in topics such as this: “How to Overcome” or “How to Think Creatively” or “How to Think Affirmatively or Positively,” or “How to Drive Your Life Purposely.” It says we are on the way upward and onward forever! That is popular psychology, and it is not getting anyone anywhere.

A second type of liberal preaching involves ethics. It preaches a nice little sweet gospel—a sermonette preached by a preacherette to Christianettes. The message goes something like this: “Good is better than evil because it’s nicer and gets you into less trouble.” The picture of the average liberal church is that of a mild-mannered man standing before a group of mild-mannered people, and urging them to be more mild-mannered! There’s nothing quite as insipid as that. No wonder the Lord Jesus said to the church of Laodicea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor how, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3.15, 16). That would make anybody sick to his tummy. That’s another reason I call these people Alka-Seltzer Christians. They’re not only fizz, foam, and groth, but they cause you to need an Alka-Seltzer.

Then there is the third type of liberal preaching which is called the social gospel. They preach better race relations, pacifism, social justice, the Christian social order, and union of church and state (church and state working with, over or under the other; church incorporation and 501c3 are two of many manifestations of this relationship). It is Christian socialism pure and simple.

In contrast, when the true gospel is preached and men come to Christ, they all become brothers. We don’t need all this talk about better race relations. You cannot create better relationships by forcing people together. Only the gospel of the grace of God will make a man into a brother of mine. When that happens, the color of a man’s skin makes no difference at all.

The solution of man’s problems can come only through the grace of God. We need to recognize that God creates out of nothing. Until a man is nothing, God can make nothing of him. The grace fo God through Jesus Christ is the way to transform and save mankind. That is what 2 Timothy teaches, and that is why it is important to study 2 Timothy.

OUTLINE

I. AFFLICTIONS of the Gospel, Chapter 1
A. Introduction vv. 1-7
B. Not Ashamed, but a Partaker of Affliction, 1.8-11
C. Not Ashamed, but Assured, 1.12-18

II. ACTIVE in Service, Chapter 2
A. A Son, 2.1, 2
B. A Good Soldier, 2.3, 4
C. An Athlete, 2.5
D. A Farmer, 2.6-14
E. A Workman, 2.15-19
F. A Vessel, 2.20-23
G A Servant, 2.24-26

III. APOSTASY Coming, Authority of the Scriptures, Chapter 3.1-4.5
A. Conditions in the Last Days, 3.1-9
B. Authority of Scriptures in the Last Days, 3.10-17
C. Instructions for the Last Days, 4.1-5

IV. ALLEGIANCE to the Lord and of the Lord, Chapter 4.6-22
A. Deathbed Testimony of Paul, 4.6-8
B. Last Words, 4.9-22

NOTES:

Chapter 1
(AFFLICATIONS of the Gospel, Chapter 1)

INTRODUCTION (vv1-7)

v1 Paul an apostle by the will of God. In 1 Ti., Paul said “by the commandment  of God,” and we saw that the commandments of God revealed the will of God, but that they were not the total will of God. “According to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” You accept a promise by faith. That is the only way you can obtain eternal life. He offers it to you as a gift. You accept a gift because you believe the Giver. The Lord Jesus gives you eternal life when you trust His as Saviour because He paid the penalty of your sin. He today can offer you heaven on the basis of your faith and trust in Him. Therefore, “the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” makes it clear that through Christ is the only way you can get eternal life, my friend.

2Ti.1.7_1v2 Call greets Timothy as his “dearly beloved son” because Timothy was a great joy to him. v3 Timothy was on Paul’s prayer list. v4 Paul loved Timothy, and this verse makes clear that Timothy loved Paul because he was greatly affected since Paul has been arrested, is back in prison, and faces death. v5 Apparently, Timothy was brought up in a Christian home–both his grandmother and his mother were Christians. It is not known whether Timothy’s father, a Greek, was in the faith. v6 When Paul put his hands on Timothy, that meant that Timothy was a partner with Paul. He shared with him the gift of teaching the Word of God. He admonishes Timothy to “stir up the gift of God that is in thee.” v7 “Fear” here speaks of cowardice. God has given us a spirit of power and love and a sound mind. “Sound mind” means discipline; we should not be slaves to our emotions. Overcoming emotions means not letting your emotions stop you from doing something you should be doing. I am not to be a defeated Christian; I should not let my emotions control my life.

NOT ASHAMED BUT A PARTAKER OF AFFLICTION (vv8-11)

v8 The Lord Jesus made clear that we would have trouble. “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (Jn. 16.33). He warned us that the world would not like Christian. “If the world hate you, ye now that it hated me before it hated you” (Jn. 15.18). There is something wrong if you become too popular as a a Christian.

v9 “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling”–not because of who we are or what we have done–“not according to our works.” But–“according to his own purpose and grace.” God’s wonderful purpose in the gospel was hidden in ages past but is now revealed through Paul. “Which was given in Christ Jesus before the world began”–all along god had this plan for us.

v10 “Who hath abolished death.” Death means something altogether different to the child of God–Christ made if of no effect. Paul is not talking about physical death. He means spiritual death, eternal death, which is separation from God.

v11 Paul was a “preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher.” An apostle had several gifts. Dr. McGee doesn’t believe God will give us 2 or more gifts, as preaching and singing.

NOT ASHAMED, BUT ASSURED (vv12-18)

v12 Paul suffered because he was “a preacher, apostle, and teacher” as he stated in v11. Nonetheless, he was not ashamed of the gospel (see Ro. 1.16 and in 2 Ti. 1.8 he urges Timothy not to be ashamed either)  although he was in prison, with sentence of death upon him. “He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.”

v12 “Hold fast the form of sound words” (the words of Scripture are inspired).

v13 The Christian life can only be lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. In v7 Paul talked about power, love, and a sound mind in v7 and all are fruit of the Holy Spirit. See Ga. 5.22, 23.

v15 Paul names Phygellus and Hermogenes who turned from him. All he says that “all they which are in Asia have turned from me. In 1 Ti. 1, Paul said some had fallen away. Here it is all – that is, all who are now in Asia who had formerly been with him in Rome. Apostasy has occurred during the entire history of the church.

vv16-18 Paul talks about Onesiphorus, a wonderful man of god.

Chapter 2
(ACTIVE in Service, Chapter 2)

A SON

v1 “Timothy was a spiritual son of Paul – it was under Paul’s ministry that Timothy turned to Christ. Timothy is in the family of God; he is a child of God. Therefore, Paul tells him, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” You cannot live the Christian life on your own. If you feel you can grit your teeth and go out and live the Christian life on your own, you’re in for a great disappointment. If you feel you can follow a few little rules or some clever gimmicks to make you a mature Christian, then you have fallen into a subtle trap of legalism. Paul gives no rules, and the Word of God has no rules to tell the child of God how to live the Christian life. We are saved by grace, and now we are to live by the grace of God and be strong in that grace. When things go wrong, a believe should appeal to God’s grace. When I fail, I have found that when I am away from Him, the whipping He gives me hurts lots worse. I don’t want to get on the end of that switch where it really stings. I come in close to Him, and the closer I am the less it hurts. I am a son  of my Heavenly Father.

v2 Paul tells Timothy to commit the things Paul taught him “to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” It is a real concern to older men that there be young men who will be faithful in teaching God’s Word. [It is a concern to me that there will be those who will teach “separation of church and state law to others.” I am especially grieved by all those who pervert the truth as to the Bible and earthy truths concerning the relationship of Christ and His churches.]

As sons of God we ought to be concerned about our Father’s business. Perhaps you are thinking that you are disappointed in yourself. If you are, that means that you must have believed in yourself. You should not have. You are to walk by the grace of God, “by faith and not by sight.” Or perhaps you are discouraged. If so, that means you do not believe God’s Word and way of blessing. Or maybe you have said, “I hope I can do better in the future.” Then you do expect to get some good out of that old nature. Oh, my friend, be strong in the grace of God.

2Ti.2.3A GOOD SOLDIER

vv3-4 The Christian is a soldier. Ep. 6 tells us that the believer is fighting a spiritual battle, and that he needs to put on the armor of God.

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life.” “That he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” He is to establish his priorities. He is to to endure hardness, or suffer hardness, as Paul was suffering. The Christian life is not a playground; it is a spiritual battlefield.

AN ATHLETE

v6 Here Paul compares the Christian to an athlete. He is to strive to win. Philippians 3:14: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul also said he wanted to keep his body under control (1 Co. 9.24-27). He is to “strive lawfully.” That is, he is to play by the rules. Thus, he should study the whole rule book, all 66 books. An athlete can’t cut the corner of the racetrack. A baseball player does not run by second base without touching it.

A FARMER – the fourth description of a believer (vv6-14)

There will be a harvest, but there has to be the sowing and laboring in the field. The Word of God is to be sown. You may (probably will) get into trouble when you sow the Word of God. Paul got in trouble. He was in prison for teaching the Word of God. Even so, he said, “But the word of God is not bound (v9); it was still going out into the Roman world and still is. “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him” (v11). When we are saved, his death becomes our death. We are identified with Him and are raised with Him in newness of life.

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (v12). Dr. McGee (and I) personally believe that not all believers will reign with Him. I have not suffered for the Lord as did the Apostle Paul. Fox says there were 5 million Christians who were martyred for Christ under Rome. Then, tens of millions, at least 50 million, died for Christ as martyrs under the rule of the Catholic Church during the middle ages.

“If we deny him, he also will deny us.” Faith without works is dead (no faith at all-one never had saving faith. See James 2.17). Paul and James never contradicted one another. James was talking about the works of faith, and Paul is saying that genuine faith produces works.

v13 God “cannot deny himself.” God cannot accept as true one who is false. He called the religious rulers hypocrits because they were pretending to be something they were not.

v14 “Strive not about words.” God’s people need to stick to essentials. Don’t argue about empty words or philosophies or our little differences.

A WORKMAN, A TEACHER (vv15-19)

2Ti.2.15_22 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Believers are to be diligent students of the Word of God. To rightly divide the Word, the Christian is to be a skilled workman like an artisan. The student of the Word of God must understand that the Word of God is one great bundle of truth and that it has certain right divisions. The Bible is built according to a certain law ans structure, which must be observed and obeyed as you go through the Word of God. You can’t just lift out a verse here and a verse there and choose to ignore a passage here and a passage there. It must be studied (and taught) in its entirety. Only a lost person or even a saved person ignorant of the Word of God does not believe the truth that the Bible is the most orderly book ever written, by far, since its author was God.

“Rightly dividing the word of truth.” There are certain dispensations in the Word of God, different methods whereby God dealt with man. The basis of salvation always remains the same. Man is saved only by believing in the atoning death of Christ. But man expresses his faith in God in different ways. For example, Able and Abraham brought little lambs to sacrifice to the Lord. But I hope you don’t take a lamb tochurch next Sunday morning, because you would be entirely out of order. It’s all right for Mary to have a little lamb that follows her to school, but your little lamb should not follow you to church. The reason is that the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world has already come. That Lamb is Jesus (Jn. 1.29). You see, Abel and Abraham looked forward to the Lamb of God, and we look back to His death. This is an illustration of rightly dividing the Word of truth.

2Ti.2.19Dispensations exhibit the progressive order of God’s dealings with humanity. For instance, to recognize the distinction between law and grace is basic to the understanding of the Scriptures. One has to be careful about listening or studying dispensationalists. Some are very solid on all Bible matters. C.I. Schofield was right about some things, but wrong about others, but studying his works is tremendously enlightening as to God’s dispensations as laid out in the Bible (See, Scofield’s headnote to “Ephesians” and margin notes on his false “true church” doctrine). Some dispensationalists are so far off on so many Bible matters that one should avoid referring to them. Hyperdispensationalists are in the never-never land of interpretation. No matter whose work one studies, the standard should always be a literal study of the Word of God.

v16 Avoid empty chatter that has no value whatsoever. v17 “And their word will eat as doth a cankner: of whom is Hymenaeus and Pliletus.” These men apparently were apostates. v19 “Having this seal.” In the OT, De. 6.8, 9, God told His people to take His commandment on their hand, and write them on the posts of their houses, and on their gates. This identified him as a worshiper of God. How about the believer today-how does he advertise for God? “Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Separated from evil and separation unto Christ. The Lord knows his because he can look at the heart. However, the world can only look at his outward life.

2Ti.2.22A VESSEL (vv20-23)

vv20-21 A believer is pictured as a vessel. To be usable, a vessel must be clean. God does not use dirty vessels – not beautiful, but clean. v22. Again, God places together faith, love, and peace. v23 Avoid foolish and unlearned questions, because they gender strifes. We live in a world which is on fire. Lets get the Word of God to it before it is too late.

A SERVANT (vv24-26)

A believer is to be a servant, gentle to all men. The soldier was to fight, but the servant is not to fight. Is this a contradiction? No, it is a paradox. When you are standing for truth, you are to be definite and let men know where you stand. Don’t be a coward! It is said that silence is golden, but sometimes it is just yellow! “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” If you are trying to win a person to Christ, don’t argue with him. Just keep giving him the word of God.

v26 “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

Chapter 3
(APOSTASY Coming; Authority of the Scriptures, 3.1-4.5)

2Ti.3.1-5APOSTASY IN THE LAST DAYS (vv1-9)

v1 The apostasy that began in the church in Paul’s day will continue.Paul warned the church at Ephesus that false leaders would enter the church after his decrease. Acts 20:29-30 “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” They won’t get out the Word of God, but will fleece the church. False teachers sheer the sheep pretty close!

“Perilous time shall come.” This does not look like the conversion of the world, does it? The church, according to this, is not going to convert the world. The Bible does not teach that it will. Instead, look what is coming in the last days. We have nineteen different descriptions given in the next few verses. It is an ugly brood. It is the best scriptural picture of what is happening today. Again, there are 19 words or phrases used to describe the last days: (1) “Lovers of their own selves.” Examples: politicians, Hollywood, public schools (teach self-esteem or self-love), churches. Churches will follow teachers having itching ears (2 Ti. 4.3); these teachers want to be complimented, they want their ears scratched. To be complimented, you have to compliment. So they complement their church members and their boards of officers. They tell people how wonderful they are.

(2) “Covetous” (lovers of money and things. Lovers of self become lovers of money. The old nature likes a lot of money spent on it. (3) Boasters. A proud man walks like a peacock. (4) “Proud.” Haughty. (5) “Blasphemers.” (6) “Disobedient to parents.” (7) “Unthankful.” Some never thank others of God for kindnesses to them. (8) “Unholy.” This means profane. They are against God. (9) “Without natural affection.” This means abnormal relationships. Sodomy is accepted as natural by many today, even in so-called churches. See Romans 1.24. (10 “Trucebreakers” are people who are impossible to get along with. They will break their word to you. They won’t let you get along with them. (11) “False accusers.” (12) “Incontinent” means without self-control. (13) “Fierce” means savage. In our day, city streets have become asphalt jungles. (14) “Despisers of those who are good.” (15) “Traitors are betrayers.” You can’t trust them. (16) “Heady” means reckless. (17) Highminded” means blinded by pride or drunk with pride. (Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” Never has there been a time when so much money has been spent in order to provide pleasure. This is the same road Rome took when it went down. Athletes are money hungry. I would rather watch, in general, a ditchdigger who loves the Lord. Billions are spent on entertainment. (19) “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” They go through religious rituals but lack life and realinty. Avoid them. A believer in a dead liberal church get out of it – “from such turn away.”

v6 “Silly women.” v7 “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” v8 “Jannes and Jambres” were apparently names of the 2 magicians called in by Pharoah when Moses began the miracles and the plagues came upon Egypt. The names were revealed to Paul by the Spirit of God. We read of them in Exodus 7. The Exodus account reveals that Satan has power, super-natural power. Jannes and Jambres were able to perform miracles by the power of Satan. Satan can still imitate the power of God. 1 John 4:1: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” “Men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” Those men have corrupt minds and have discarded the truth totally. For example, I know a man whom professed authority of God, but delved into the spiritualistic. He ended up rejecting the great truths of Scripture and setting himself against one of God’s churches with the intent of taking it over. Needless to say, God did not allow it. “But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.”

AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURES IN THE LAST DAYS (3.10-4.5)

vv10-11 Paul’s life was an open book, as should be that of every believer. Timothy knew well of Paul’s suffering at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.

vv12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. It will cost you something to be a Christian. Real Christians are becoming very unpopular in America. The media, secular and “Christian,” are their enemy. If a real Bible believer gets any press, it will be distorted and misrepresented.

v. 13 “But evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” “Seducers” are imposters.

vv14-15 The only antidote against a world of apostasy is the Word of God. Salvation comes in 3 tenses.  Timothy was already saved. I have been saved from sin. I am being saved from sin. I shall be saved from sin. Christ saves a believer. Then, he works out a salvation in us, but we won’t ever be perfected in this life. But there is coming a day shen “… it doth not yet appear what se shall be, but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him …” (1 Jn. 3.2). The Scriptures give us not only the modus operandi of being saved, but it saves us in this present evil world – enables us to grow and gives us deliverance down here. Dr. McGee contends that the constant study of the Word of God is the only help that any of us has.

v16. When Paul says, “All scripture,” he means all of it. The word “inspiration” means God-breathed. God used men with different personalities and thought patterns, yet got through exactly what He wanted to say. Through these men, God has given us His Word.

It “is profitable for doctrine,” for teaching. It is good “for reproof,” which means conviction. It is “form instruction,” which means discipline, thinking and acting in accordance with God’s will.

v17 “Perfect” doesn’t mean that you and I will reach the kind of perfection where absolutely everything we do is right. Rather, it means we will attain full maturation. We’ll be complete, full-grown people.

“Throughly furnished”–the Word of God can fit you out for life for every good work.

Chapter 4
(ALLEGIANCE to the Lord and of the Lord, 4.6-22)

In this chapter, Paul gives Timothy instructions for the last days. Then we will have Paul’s deathbed testimony, which are probably his last written words. We will detect his feeling of loneliness. He is in Rome, alone and incarcerated in that horrible Mamertine prison. He is cold and asks Timothy to bring his cloak. He is lonely and the hours are long. He asks Timothy to bring his books, especially the parchments.

But with the sadness and loneliness we will also hear a note of victory as Paul gives his final charge to his son in the faith. This is his final Word from God to you and me. If you are not prepared to accept this, I (Dr. McGee) doesn’t thing that He has anything more to say to you.

v1 A very solemn charge. Jesus Christ will judge the quick (the living) and the dead at his returning. Christ’s appearing and His kingdom will not happen at the same time. Christ will judge all believers at one time or another. Our lives are going to be tested to see if we are to receive a reward or not. Paul is saying to Timothy that, in view of the fact that you are going to stand before God to be judged, this is what you are to do.” This is what God is saying to believers right now.

v2 “Preach the word,” means to proclaim it, give it out, herald it. “Be instant [diligent] in season, out of season,” means at any time you can. Preach the Word, don’t just talk about it. Paul does not say to preach from the Word. He does not say to lift a verse from the Bible and then weave a sermon around it. Someone has well said that a text is a pretext that’s taken out of it’s context. We are not to preach about the Word of God or from the Word of God, but preach the Word of God itself.

“Be instant in season, out of season.” “Instant” mean diligent or, even better, urgent. There is a compulsion upon us. We should be chafing at the bit, ready to give out the Word of God. “In season, out of season” means any time of the day or night, any time of the year, under any and all circumstances.

“Reprove” it should be given with conviction. “Rebuke” actually means to threaten. “Exhort” means to comfort. Sometimes believers really need comfort. “With all longsuffering’ means that all of us who give out the Word of God need to exercise a great deal of patience. “Doctrine” means teaching.

v3 “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” Few churches teach much doctrine. Most “churches” teach no Bible doctrine. Rather, most believers and churches “”After their own lusts heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” To quote Dr. Marvin R. Vincent: “The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found.” “Having itching ears.” They don’t go to church to hear sound doctrine, but to delight their ears with the speaking or the voice or the plays. As Dr. Warren Wiersbe has said, “They want religious entertainment from Christian performers who will tickle their ears. … The man who simply opens the Bible is rejected while the shallow religious entertainer becomes a celebrity.”

v4. They want lies, not the truth. They want to be entertained. When one preaches the Word of God, he steps on toes.

v5 In Paul’s day, an evangelist was a traveling teacher, a missionary. Paul was an evangelist in that sense, and he tells Timothy to also do the work of an evangelist.

ALLEGIANCE TO THE LORD AND OF THE LORD (vv 6-22)

PAUL’S DEATHBED TESTIMONY (vv6-8)

“I am now ready to be offered.” Paul would be beheaded in an execution room, a bloody spectacle. Paul’s life is being poured out as a libation, a drink offering. Paul used that figure of speech before in this letter to the Philippians, when he was arrested for the first time and thought death was before him. Philippians 2:17: “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” He wanted his life to be poured out.

What was the drink offering? There were not specific instructions given by God to the Israelites concerning the drink offering. However, it is mentioned again and again in Exodus and Leviticus. The wine was poured over the sacrifice which, of course, was really hot because it was on a brazen altar with fire underneath it. The drink offering would go up in steam. It would just evaporate and disappear. That is exactly what Paul is saying here: “I have just poured out my life as a drink offering on the sacrifice of Christ. It has been nothing for me, but everything for Him.” Paul’s life would soon disappear, and all that could be seen was Christ. So many Christians try to be remembered by having their names chiseled in stone or by having a building named in their memory. Paul was not interested in that type of thing. Christ, not Paul, is the One who is to be exalted.

Paul’s epitaph is divided into two sections. The first is retrospect, in which Paul looks back on his earthly life–this is right before he was executed. Then the second part of the epitaph is the prospect. He looks forward to eternal life. The earthly life and the eternal life are separated by what we call death down here.

RETROSPECT

Paul sums up his life in three different ways: “I have fought the good fight.” He has been a soldier, a good soldier. Every Christian should be a defender of the Word of God and stand for the great truths of the Bible.

“I have finished my course.” Life is not only a battle, life is a race. Paul was a disciplined athlete who was striving to win the prize. During the race, Paul kept his body under subjection. 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Hebrews 12:1-2 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Paul, at the end of his life, had touched all the bases; he had completed all that God had planned for Him.

“I have kept the faith.” Life has been a trust from God, and he had been a good steward. He had kept the faith. He had never veered from the great truths and doctrines in the Word of God.

“My departure is at hand.” Believers at the rapture will not depart through the doorway of death.Paul will be “untied” or “unloosed.” Paul is saying that he has been “tied down to the harbor.” That is what life is – we haven’t been anywhere yet: we’ve just been tied to this little earth. Death is a release for the child of God. Going off to be with Christ will be a great release for the believer.

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.” Here, Paul is looking forward to the future. He is expecting a crown of righteousness. A crown is a reward. Dr. McGee does not think it has been given to him yet.

Several crowns are mentioned in the New Testament.

The athlete’s crown for being a winner on the racetrack of life. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 ‘Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”

The soul-winner’s crown mentioned in Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”

“A crown of righteousness,” the reward for a righteous life.

“Unto them also that love his appearing” does not refer to the doctrine you hold regarding His appearing (premillennialist, postmillennialist, or amillennialist). The question is: Do you love His appearing? This means you have to love Him. Do you have a close relationship with Him. Have you ever told Him you love Him?

PAUL’S LAST WORDS

v9 These words reflect that Paul is lonesome.

v10. Demas took off because he couldn’t stand the heat.

“Titus unto Dalmatia. I don’t know if these other brethren had a legitimate excuse for leaving Paul, but I think Titus did.

v11 Only Luke stood by Paul clear to the end.Paul had been wrong about Mark, and now he was able to say that Mark was profitable to him in his ministry.

v12 Paul sent Tychicus back to Ephesus because he was the pastor of the church there.

v13 Paul asks for his cloak or coat he had left at Troas. This reveals a little of Paul’s suffering. In May and June, it is cold in that prison.

“And the books, but especially the parchments.” He needed something for his mind.

v14-15 Alexander’s “reward” won’t be what Alexander would consider a reward! v15 Paul warns Timothy to be on guard against him. He is one of those laymen who will soft-soap you, then put a knife in you when you turn your back. Watch out for him.

v16 “At my first answer” was either the preliminary hearing which opened Paul’s final trial, or it was his first trial in Rome three years earlier. Paul was alone at that time.

v17 Now Paul is asking something for his spirit (as he had already asked for something for his body, for his mind (books and parchments). All of us have needs in these three areas. He was alone, but the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me…” as he said.

“I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” Sparred execution at that time.

v18 Paul knew he was going to be translated to heaven.

vv19-21 Paul concludes this personal letter with references to mutual friends. He urges Timothy to come, and to come before winter. This continues the tremendous swan song of the Apostle Paul.

 

 

The Meaning and Results of Apostasy, the Final Outcome of Gospel Preaching, the Social Gospel, Emphasis on the Word of God, the Three Directions of Liberal Preaching, the Only Solution to Racism and all the Problems of Mankind, How Men Become Brothers no Matter Their Color, the Only Way to Transform Mankind

Modifications of Non-Copyrighted Comments of Dr. J. Vernon McGee
Published August 22, 2017

In 2 Timothy, an ominous dark cloud is seen on the horizon. It is the coming apostasy. Today, apostasy has broken like a storm, like a Texas tornado, on the world and in the churches. Webster defines apostasy as “total desertion of the principles of faith.” So apostasy is not due to ignorance; which results in heresy. Apostasy is deliberate error. It is intentional departure from the faith. An apostate is one who knows the truth of the gospel and the doctrines of the faith, but he has repudiated them.

Paul in 2 Timothy speaks of the ultimate outcome of gospel preaching. The final fruition will not be the total conversion of mankind, nor will it usher in the millennium. On the contrary, there will come about an apostasy which will well-nigh blot out the faith from the earth. In fact, there are two departures that will occur at the end of the age: One is the departure from the faith. Luke 18:8  “… Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” This, in context demands a negative answer. The other is the departure of believers, those who are members of the family of God, which is what we call the “rapture.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”).

This view is not in keeping with the social gospel today which expects to transform the world by tinkering with the social system. Such vain optimists have no patience with the doleful words of 2 Timothy. The cold and hard facts of history and the events of the present hour demonstrate the accuracy of Paul. We are now in the midst of an apostasy which is cut to the pattern of Paul’s words in remarkable detail.

Most churches have entered the orbit of an awful apostasy. A remnant of New Testament churches are not affected. All members of the family of God are on their way to glory. I believe that many true believers attend apostate churches, not knowing enough about Bible principles to know of the apostasies of the churches they attend. For example, many believers attend corporate 501c3 churches without understanding that such status grieves our Lord who “loved the church and gave himself for it.” Pastors, leaders, “Christian” lawyers, etc. of such churches are either apostates (know the truth but depart from it) or do not know the truth and are therefore heretics.

Because of the threat of apostasy, Paul emphasizes the Word of God here more than he does in any other epistle. In fact, both Paul and Peter agree. Each of them in his “swan song” (2 Timothy and 2 Peter) emphasizes the Word of God and the Gospel.

My friend, the gospel rests upon a tremendous fact, and that fact is the total depravity of man. In other words, man is  a lost sinner. Someone has put it like this:

  • “Where education assumes that the moral nature of man is capable of improvement, traditional Christianity assumes that the moral nature of man is corrupt and absolutely bad. Where it is assumed in education that an outside human agent may be instrumental in the moral improvement of men, in traditional Christianity it is assumed that the agent is God, and even so, the moral nature of man is not improved but exchanged for a new one.

Man is in such a state that he cannot be saved by perfect obedience—because he cannot render it.  Neither can he be saved by imperfect obedience—because God will not accept it.

Therefore, the only solution is the gospel of the grace of God which reaches down and saves the sinner on the basis of the death and resurrection of Christ. Faith in Christ transforms human life. We have a showcase today all over this land of a relatively small number of men and women who have been transformed by the gospel of the grace of God.

Liberal preaching, instead of presenting the grace of God to sinful man, goes out in three different directions. From some liberal pulpits we hear what is really popular psychology. It majors in topics such as this: “How to Overcome” or “How to Think Creatively” or “How to Think Affirmatively or Positively,” or “How to Drive Your Life Purposely.” It says we are on the way upward and onward forever! That is popular psychology, and it is not getting anyone anywhere.

A second type of liberal preaching involves ethics. It preaches a nice little sweet gospel—a sermonette preached by a preacherette to Christianettes. The message goes something like this: “Good is better than evil because it’s nicer and gets you into less trouble.” The picture of the average liberal church is that of a mild-mannered man standing before a group of mild-mannered people, and urging them to be more mild-mannered! There’s nothing quite as insipid as that. No wonder the Lord Jesus said to the church of Laodicea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor how, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3.15, 16). That would make anybody sick to his tummy. That’s another reason I call these people Alka-Seltzer Christians. They’re not only fizz, foam, and groth, but they cause you to need an Alka-Seltzer.

Then there is the third type of liberal preaching which is called the social gospel. They preach better race relations, pacifism, social justice, the Christian social order, and union of church and state (church and state working with, over or under the other; church incorporation and 501c3 are two of many manifestations of this relationship). It is Christian socialism pure and simple.

In contrast, when the true gospel is preached and men come to Christ, they all become brothers. We don’t need all this talk about better race relations. You cannot create better relationships by forcing people together. Only the gospel of the grace of God will make a man into a brother of mine. When that happens, the color of a man’s skin makes no difference at all.

The solution of man’s problems can come only through the grace of God. We need to recognize that God creates out of nothing. Until a man is nothing, God can make nothing of him. The grace of God through Jesus Christ is the way to transform and save mankind. That is what 2 Timothy teaches, and that is why it is important to study 2 Timothy.

Click here to go to God’s Plan of Salvation.

For a Bible study of 2 Timothy, click here.

FELLOWSHIP OF HUMANITY (a Nonprofit Corporation) v. COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, 153 Cal.App.2d 673 (California Court of Appeals. First Dist., Div. One, 1957)

Click here to go to complete case online.

1. FELLOWSHIP OF HUMANITY (a Nonprofit Corporation) v. COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, 153 Cal.App.2d 673 (California Court of Appeals. First Dist., Div. One, 1957) Fellowship of Humanity was a nonprofit corporation organized under the laws of California. The precise question involved in the instant case–whether the reverence of a deity is a prerequisite to the receiving of a tax exemption for church property. In this case, a humanist organization applied for property tax exemption on the ground that the property was used “solely and exclusively for religious worship” within the meaning of article XIII, section 1 1/2 of the state Constitution. The trial court below determined that the Fellowship did use its property” solely and exclusively for religious worship” and was entitled to the claimed exemption. The basic problem involved is whether or not, under the findings, the respondent is entitled to this tax exemption. The solution to this problem turns upon whether or not the conclusion that respondent uses its property “solely and exclusively for religious worship,” as these terms are used in article XIII, section 1 1/2, is supported by the findings. Appellants contend that the term “religious worship” necessarily requires reverence to, and adoration of, a Supreme Being, and that under the findings the respondent organization does not require as a condition of membership that its members believe in God, and that such an organization does not use its premises “solely and exclusively for religious” The fundamental question–is a belief in God or gods essential to “religious worship,” as those terms are used in the state Constitution?

In this case, born again students of the Word of God can easily see how preposterous putting secularists (courts) in the position of defining “church,” “religion,” “religious practice,” etc. All man’s laws which give benefits to religion and churches make necessary the definition of such terms. That is one very good reason that a church should remain under the First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions and laws. Incorporating, getting 501c3 status or becoming a legal entity of any kind takes a church out from under such provisions and from under God thereby violating New Testament Church Doctrine and grieving our Lord.

Notes from the case:

If this strict rule of construction is applicable in the instant case it can reasonably be argued that the words “religious worship,” in their strict and limited sense, and in their commonly accepted sense, include the concept of a Supreme Being governing the universe. [4] Generally speaking, “religious worship” is expressed by prayers, reverence, homage and adoration paid to a deity, and include the seeking out by prayer and otherwise the will of the deity for divine guidance. This is the generally accepted dictionary definition of the term. Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (2d ed.) includes within its definition of the term the following: “Worship: … 5. Act of paying divine honors to a deity; religious reverence and homage; adoration, or reverence, paid to God, a being viewed as God, or something held as sacred from a reputed connection with God.” “Religion: … 1. The service and adoration of God or a god as expressed in forms of worship … 6. An apprehension, awareness, or conviction of the existence of a supreme being …”

It is not necessary to cite other dictionary definitions. Many dictionaries contain similar definitions.

Some of the decided cases, in various situations, have interpreted the terms “religion,” and “religious,” and “worship” as including the recognition of a deity. One of the leading cases is Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333 [10 S.Ct. 299, 33 L.Ed. 637], which approves the restrictive interpretation of the word “religion.” That case involved a prosecution for conspiracy. Under federal law citizens of the territory of Idaho were required to swear when registering as electors that they did not practice bigamy or polygamy, and that they were not members of organizations which held as a tenet the practice of polygamy. The Mormon Church, at that time, advocated polygamy, and defendants were members of that church. The question involved was whether the advocacy of polygamy was protected as a “religious” tenet under the federal Constitution. In the course of its opinion the court stated (133 U.S. at p. 342): “The term ‘religion’ has reference to one’s views of his relations to his Creator, and to the obligations they impose of reverence for his being and character, and of obedience to his will.” This was probably dicta because the actual holding of this case was that “however 682*682 free the exercise of religion may be, it must be subordinate to the criminal laws of the country passed with reference to actions regarded by general consent as properly the subjects of punitive legislation.” (P. 342.)

There have also been several cases interpreting the “religious training and belief” exception to the draft act. In Berman v. United States, 156 F.2d 377 (cert. den. 329 U.S. 795 [67 S.Ct. 480, 91 L.Ed. 680]), the court was required to construe a provision of the Selective Service Act of 1940 which granted an exemption to persons conscientiously opposed to participation in war “by reason of religious training and belief.” It was held by the majority that the defendant, who was a humanist, did not qualify, because [fn. *](156 F.2d at p. 380): “It is our opinion that the expression ‘by reason of religious training and belief’ is plain language, and was written into the statute for the specific purpose of distinguishing between a conscientious social belief, or a sincere devotion to a high moralistic philosophy, and one based upon an individual’s belief in his responsibility to an authority higher and beyond any worldly one. … It would be quite ridiculous to argue that the use of the word ‘religion’ (in section 1 of the First Amendment) could have been understood by the authors of this part of our national charter or by those having to do with its adoption as meaning to be inclusive of morals or of devotion to human welfare or of policy of government. Congress has and does make laws respecting the establishment of all of these subjects. … There are those who have a philosophy of life, and who live up to it. There is evidence that this is so in regard to appellant. However, no matter how pure and admirable his standard may be, and no matter how devotedly he adheres to it, his philosophy and morals and social policy without the concept of deity cannot be said to be religion in the sense of that term as it is used in the statute.”

As will later appear there were contrary interpretations of the language of the 1940 act. But Congress apparently approved the definition of the majority in the Berman case when it passed the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 1948 by providing that “[r]eligious training and belief in this connection means an individual’s belief in a relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising 683*683 from any human relation, but does not include essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code.” (50 U.S.C.A. App. 456(j).) In George v. United States, 196 F.2d 445, 451, the court said of this definition that it “comports with the spirit in which ‘Religion’ is understood generally, and the manner in which it has been defined by the courts. It is couched in terms of the relationship of the individual to a Supreme Being, and comports with the standard or accepted understanding of the meaning of ‘Religion’ in American society.” The court also pointed out that even if the statutory definition were unduly restrictive, this was a matter for Congress to determine.

There are other cases recognizing that a belief in a Supreme Being is essential to the concept of religious worship. In United States v. MacIntosh, 283 U.S. 605, 633 [51 S.Ct. 570, 75 L.Ed. 1302], in a dissent by Chief Justice Hughes, is to be found an approval of the definition of religion given in Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333 [10 S.Ct. 299, 33 L.Ed. 637]. The Chief Justice stated: “The essence of religion is belief in a relation to God involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation. … [Here follows the quotation from Davis v. Beason.] One cannot speak of religious liberty, with proper appreciation of its essential and historic significance, without assuming the existence of a belief in supreme allegiance to the will of God.”

The statement of Chief Justice Hughes limiting religions to those faiths who venerate a Supreme Being has not gone unchallenged. In a dissent in the Berman case, which will be discussed more fully later in this opinion, Chief Judge Denman wrote that Chief Justice Hughes was only concerned with MacIntosh’s belief in his personal “God” and was not attempting to give an all-inclusive definition of “religion.” “To attribute to such highly educated men as Hughes, Holmes, Brandeis and Stone [the four dissenters] an ignorance of Taoism or Comte’s humanism, or their denial that either is a religion if the question had been presented to them, would be an unwarranted assertion of their ignorance of the history of religious beliefs.” (156 F.2d 384, n. 2.)

There are several state decisions holding or implying in various situations that the commonly accepted and generally understood meanings of “religion” and of “religious worship” include as an essential element the recognition of a deity, and the concomitant obligations which that recognition imposes. (See Nikulnikoff v. Archbishop etc. of Russian 684*684 O.G.C.Ch., 142 Misc. 894 [255 N.Y.S. 653]; In re Opinion of the Justices, 309 Mass. 555 [34 N.E.2d 431]; People v. Deutsche Evangelisch Lutherische, etc., Confession, 249 Ill. 132 [94 N.E. 162]; People v. Board of Education of Dist. 24, 245 Ill. 334 [92 N.E. 251]; see also cases collected 76 C.J.S. pp. 727-730; see the following annotations: 168 A.L.R. 1222; 83 A.L.R. 773; 22 A.L.R. 907; 81 A.L.R. 1453; 34 A.L.R. 1067, for discussion of related subjects)

These authorities, if a strict, limited interpretation is to be given to the exemption in article XIII, section 1 1/2, would support the conclusion that a belief in a Supreme Being and adoration of that Supreme Being are essential elements of “religious worship”

These cases and definitions do not stand unquestioned. [5] In the first place there are forms of belief generally and commonly accepted as religions and whose adherents, numbering in the millions, practice what is commonly accepted as religious worship, which do not include or require as essential the belief in a deity. Taoism, classic Buddhism, and Confucianism, are among these religions. In the second place, there are dictionary definitions and decided cases holding that the terms “religion” and “religious worship” do not necessarily import a belief in a deity.

The same dictionary cited by appellants (Webster’s Unabridged, 2d ed.) contains the following definition of “religion”: “8. a. A pursuit, an object of pursuit, a principle, or the like, arousing in one religious convictions and feelings such as great faith, devotion or fervor, or followed with religious zeal, conscientiousness or fidelity as, patriotism was to him a religion. b. Acceptance of or devotion to such an ideal as a standard for one’s life.”

Funk and Wagnalls (1915 edition) contains this definition of “religion”: “Any system of faith, doctrine and worship; as the Christian religion; the religions of the Orient.”

Webster also contains a broader definition of the word “worship” than the one relied upon by appellants. It is: “1. To treat with the reverence due to merit or worth; to respect; honor. 2. To revere with extreme respect and veneration.”

The Oxford Universal Dictionary, 3d edition, 1955, also contains broad definitions of the terms in question: “Religion … 4. A particular system of faith and worship …” “Worship” is defined as “b. … Veneration similar to that paid to a deity” 685*685

The Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences includes at least Taoism and classic Buddhism as among “those religions which lack the conception of an omnipotent and transcendent God.” (Vol. 13, p. 237.)

There are also a series of cases holding or implying in various situations that the terms in question should not or constitutionally cannot be limited to those faiths revering a deity, and holding that a belief in a deity is not essential to religion, or religious worship.

In Estate of Hinckley, 58 Cal. 457, the income of a trust was to be devoted to foster “Religion, Learning and Charity.” The court was called to pass upon whether “religion” was a valid charitable purpose. In holding that it was the court stated (p. 512): “In its primary sense (from religare, to rebind, to bind back), it imports, as applied to moral questions, only a recognition of a conscientious duty to recall and obey restraining principles of conduct. In such sense we suppose there is no atheist who will admit that he is without religion.”

In Ex parte Jentzsch, 112 Cal. 468 [44 P. 803, 32 L.R.A. 664], the court held a statute requiring barbershops to be closed on Sundays and legal holidays to be unconstitutional. The court stated that a Sunday closing statute should not be considered as a religious enactment, but as a civil and secular enactment, and reasoned as follows (p. 471): “Under a constitution which guarantees to all equal liberty of religion and conscience, any law which forbids an act not itself contra bonos mores, because that act is repugnant to the beliefs of one religious sect, of necessity interferes with the liberty of those who hold to other beliefs or to none at all.”

“Liberty of conscience and belief is preserved alike to the followers of Christ, to Buddhist and Mohammedan, to all who think that their tenets alone are illumined by the light of divine truth; but it is equally preserved to the skeptic, agnostic, atheist, and infidel, who says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ”

In United States v. Kauten, 133 F.2d 703, and in United States v. Downer, 135 F.2d 521,the Second Circuit gave a much broader interpretation to the phrase “religious training and belief” in the draft act than was given by the majority in the Berman case, supra, written by the Ninth Circuit. In the Kauten case the court held that the phrase in question did not require a belief in a deity to entitle the registrant to the exemption. Justice Augustus Hand, speaking for the court, defined the type of belief that would qualify the registrant 686*686 for the exemption as follows (p. 708): “We are not convinced by anything in the record that the registrant did not report for induction because of a compelling voice of conscience, which, we should regard as a religious impulse, … Religious belief arises from a sense of the inadequacy of reason as a means of relating the individual to his fellowmen and to his universe–a sense common to men in the most primitive and in the mostly highly civilized societies. It accepts the aid of logic but refuses to be limited by it. It is a belief finding expression in a conscience which categorically requires the believer to disregard elementary self-interest and to accept martyrdom in preference to transgressing its tenets.”

Just three months later the same court in the Downer case, supra, found one Randolph Phillips to be a conscientious objector. Phillips “received his early religious training in the Presbyterian Church, although he stated that he was not now a member of any religious sect or organization. He is opposed to killing men, or assisting directly or indirectly in the killing of men … He would not fight even to repel invasion, but believes that ‘war is ethically and invariably wrong.’ … ‘[F]rom whom I derived my opposition to killing men … I cannot specifically say. …’ … His further sworn assertion that ‘my opposition to war is deep-rooted, based not on political considerations but on a general humanitarian concept which is essentially religious in character,’ appears, therefore, borne out by the record.” (135 F.2d at p. 523.) The exemption was granted.

The definitions thus given by the Second Circuit were disapproved by the majority opinion in the Berman case, and were apparently disapproved by Congress when it amended the draft act in 1948 and adopted the limited definition of the Berman case. However, as already indicated, the Berman decision was not unanimous. Chief Judge Denman wrote a strong and convincing dissent. He was willing to adopt the broad definitions of “religious training and belief” found in the Kauten and Downer cases. The dissent is entitled to particular consideration because the appellant in that case was a humanist. There is much worthy of note in the opinion, but the following quotation is particularly relevant (156 F.2d at p. 384): “It is true that there is no evidence that Berman’s religious conviction that he should not kill his fellow man flowed from the command of some god or gods of one or another of the world’s many religiouscongregations, and 687*687 we may assume that such was not its source. But many of the great religious faiths with hundreds of millions of followers have no god. … It is wrong to say that ‘a sincere devotion to a moralistic philosophy’ is inconsistent with ‘a belief in his responsibility to an authority higher and beyond any earthly one,’ if that supernatural authority is confined to a belief in a particular god. This would exclude all Taoist China and in the Western world all believers in Comte’s religion of humanism in which humanity is exalted into the throne occupied by a supreme being in monotheistic religions.”

There is an Illinois case that is also worthy of mention. It is In re Walker, 200 Ill. 566 [66 N.E. 144], which involved the interpretation of a constitutional provision very similar to the one involved here. The court, in interpreting the words “property used exclusively for … religious purposes” appearing in the Illinois Constitution, and the words “churchproperty actually and exclusively used for public worship,” appearing in the Illinois statute, felt that such terms must be interpreted in connection with an Illinois constitutional provision similar to article I, section 4 of the California Constitution. [fn. *] In this connection the Illinois court stated (p. 147): “[O]ur constitution therefore constitutes a guaranty of absolute freedom of thought and faith, whether orthodox, heterodox, Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, liberal, conservative, Calvinistic, Armenian, Unitarian, or other religious belief, theology, or philosophy, and also the right of the free exercise and enjoyment of religious professions and worship of any variety or form; the only restraint upon the free 688*688 exercise of liberty of conscience being that oaths and affirmations shall not thereby be dispensed with, licentious acts excused, or practices justified which are dangerous to the peace and safety of the state.”

“Any definition of ‘public worship,’ to be acceptable, must be sufficiently broad and comprehensive to include within the beneficial operation of the statute of exemptions the church property of all congregations, and every denomination or form of religious faith and worship. The difficulties attending the task of formulating a definition of the term ‘public worship,’ so that it will be applicable to and comprehend every variety of religious faith and belief, and every religious philosophy of life and death, and omit none, is apparent.”

There is one other case to which reference should be made–a case that was decided by the District of Columbia Tax Court after the instant case was tried, and a case which is now on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The case is Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, the tax court decision being reported in 84 Wash. Law. Reporter 1072. In that case the tax court was presented directly with the precise question involved in the instant case–whether the reverence of a deity is a prerequisite to the receiving of a tax exemption for church property. The tax court was presented with a statute exempting church buildings from real property taxation when “primarily and regularly used for religious worship …” It was required to determine whether the Washington Ethical Society was a church within the meaning of this statute. The Washington Ethical Society is an affiliate of the American Ethical Union, and adheres to their tenets, beliefs and practices. These tenets, beliefs and practices are substantially similar to the basic beliefs, tenets and practices of respondent in the instant case. The essential thesis of the Ethical Movement, as stated by the tax court (p. 1074) is that “morals, ethical conduct and right living are good in themselves, and for that reason must be practiced, and not because of any command or sanction of any deity or Supreme Being …”

“… Its basis fundamentally is the negation of a personal God or any Supreme Being. It denies that there is some heavenly father or deity which is concerned with the affairs of men; … that it is futile to appeal to such or to thank him for the blessings or blame him for the ills of mankind; that we mortals alone are responsible for advantages and disadvantages; and that if we are to be helped, we must help ourselves. … 689*689

“The Ethical Movement does not require that any of its members believe in, or have any concept of God.”

Were the buildings of this organization used for “religious worship” within the meaning of the statute? The court in an exhaustive opinion came to the conclusion, after expressing many doubts on the subject, that such buildings were not used for religious worship. It quoted from many authorities to the effect that a belief in a deity is not essential to a religion, and pointed out that the case law defining the term was “somewhat confused” (p. 1078). It then cited and discussed many of the cases already cited in this opinion, and cited and discussed many others not cited herein. It then concluded (p. 1082): “After considering all of the foregoing sources bearing upon the meaning of religion, the Court concludes that the generally accepted definition of religion … is substantially the same as that adopted and approved in the Selective Service Act of 1948 and the Naturalization Act of 1950, that is to say, ‘belief in relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation, but does not include essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views of a merely personal moral code.’ ” Such definition, it was held, “comports with the primary definition in most of the dictionaries and encyclopedias and in the majority of the decisions of the courts, and appears to be most generally accepted.”

It can be observed from this review of the dictionary definitions, and of the case law, that the definitions given are confused, uncertain and certainly not conclusive. In all of the cases cited, except the tax case, the courts were not faced with the precise problem here involved. The most that can be said of these decisions is that there are expressions approving and disapproving the view that “religious worship” need not necessarily involve the concept of homage to a deity. In many of the apparently conflicting cases the result can be explained, in part at least, by the context in which the question was presented.

The views of scholars in this confused field are also conflicting. Many define “religion” in terms of a deity or of a Supreme Being. To others theism plays little or no part in their concept of the term. Many of these authorities are compiled in the amicus curiae brief of the American Civil Liberties Union. Others are referred to in the tax court opinion, supra. Little would be gained by attempting to compile the conflicting views. Suffice it to say that many 690*690 authorities in the field include nontheistic beliefs among the world’s recognized religions. Particularly pertinent is the following statement by Francis Potter in “The Story of Religion” (p. XVII): “A new definition of religion itself is already emerging. Whereas Cicero was satisfied to call it ‘the pious worship of God,’ and Menzies only a generation ago won acclaim for terming it ‘the worship of higher powers from a sense of need,’ there is a tendency today to question the necessity of including the supernatural in a definition of religion.”

“The idea of religion without God is shocking to Christians, Jews, and Muhammadans, but Buddha and Confucius long ago founded nontheistic religions and some modern Unitarian Humanists insist that the idea of God is a positive hindrance to the progress of real religion.”

“An inclusive definition, then, must recognize both varieties of religion, theistic and non-theistic.”

“The author’s present definition of religion and religions is as follows:”

“Religion: is the endeavor of divided and incomplete human personality to attain unity and completion, usually but not necessarily by seeking the help of an ideally complete divine person or persons.”

“Religions are systems of belief and practice which arise among the disciples of some man who has attained a satisfying measure of success in his endeavors to unify and complete his personality.”

One of the most respected groups to recognize the humanists as a religious group are the Unitarians. Unitarianism is generally accepted by most authorities as one of the recognized religions. Yet under Unitarian doctrine there is a peaceful coexistence of theists and humanists. A substantial part of the membership and clergy of the Unitarian Church are humanists. In the “Pocket Guide to Unitarianism,” edited by Harry B. Scholefield, appears the following (p. 4):

“Some Unitarians call themselves ‘humanists’ and others call themselves ‘theists.’ The difference between the two groups is not so much a matter for controversy as for mutual understanding and appreciation. The humanist is content, before this life’s unanswerable questions, to leave them unanswered. He sees enough in the human scene to demand all his energies of mind and spirit. The fundamental questions seem real enough, but speculation upon them seems hopeless, and all answers proposed must rest upon what William James 691*691 called ‘over-beliefs.’ The humanist says in effect, ‘One world at a time. I am interested in the world where I am now, in the moral purposes and meanings which the human mind has infused into it, and in the achievement of such ethical goals and ways of life as are possible.’ A similar attitude was taken by Buddha …”

It is quite apparent from what has been said that authorities can be found to support a limited definition of the terms involved, and that other authorities can be found to support a broader interpretation. It will be noted that, generally speaking, those who advocate the limited definition draw the line in reference to a particular belief held or not held by the group involved: i.e., do the members of the group believe in God? Their position appears to be that the sole criterion of “approved” religious activity is activity which centers around a deity. This interpretation could lead to some strange results. [6] Certainly, even appellants would not limit the exemption to those who believe in the Christian or Judaic God. The worship of other gods would clearly fall within the exemption. Appellants, at oral argument, conceded that even idol worshipers would qualify for the exemption under the test advocated by them. It also follows, of course, that a great many unorthodox but theistic cults in the United States, such as Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement, whose followers believe that Father Divine is God, would qualify for the exemption. Drawing the dividing line between theistic and nontheistic beliefs would seem to be somewhat arbitrary. [7] In a country where religious tolerance is accepted it would not seem that the limited definition is in accord with our traditions.

There is another factor to be considered. Underlying the whole subject is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which provides: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The provisions of the California Constitution guaranteeing a separation of church and state have already been quoted. [8] The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. (Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 [60 S.Ct. 900, 84 L.Ed. 1213, 128 A.L.R. 1352].)

Just what does this provision mean when it is applied to state tax exemptions of church property? [9] It is perfectly obvious that any type of statutory exemption that discriminates between types of religious belief–that discriminates 692*692 on the basis of the content of such belief–would offend both the federal and state constitutional provisions. Thus the United States Supreme Court stated in Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 15 [67 S.Ct. 504, 91 L.Ed. 711, 168 A.L.R. 1392]: “Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.” In American Sugar Refining Co. v. Louisiana, 179 U.S. 89, 92 [21 S.Ct. 43, 45 L.Ed. 102], appears the following: “Of course, if such [tax exemption] discrimination were purely arbitrary, oppressive or capricious, and made to depend upon differences of color, race, nativity, religious opinions, political affiliations or other considerations having no possible connection with the duties of citizens as taxpayers, such exemption would be pure favoritism, and a denial of the equal protection of the laws to the less favored classes.” (See also Watchtower B. & T. Soc. v. County of Los Angeles, 30 Cal.2d 426 [182 P.2d 178], which broadly implies that a tax discriminating between types of religious belief is unconstitutional.)

[10] Under the constitutional provision the state has no power to decide the validity of the beliefs held by the group involved. The principal case establishing this concept is United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86 [64 S.Ct. 882, 88 L.Ed. 1148], which holds that: “Men may believe what they cannot prove. They may not be put to the proof of their religious doctrines or beliefs.” (See Silving, “The Unknown and the Unknowable,” 35 Cal.L.Rev. 352.) [11] If those concepts are sound, and it is submitted that they are well settled, then the only valid test a state may apply in determining the tax exemption is a purely objective one. Once the validity or content of the belief is considered, the test becomes subjective and invalid. [12] Thus the only inquiry in such a case is the objective one of whether or not the belief occupies the same place in the lives of its holders that the orthodox beliefs occupy in the lives of believing majorities, and whether a given group that claims the exemption conducts itself the way groups conceded to be religious conduct themselves. The content of the belief, under such test, is not a matter of governmental concern.

Under this test the belief or nonbelief in a Supreme Being is a false factor. The only way the state can determine the existence or nonexistence of “religious worship” is to approach the problem objectively. It is not permitted to test validity of, or to compare beliefs. This simply means that 693*693 “religion” fills a void that exists in the lives of most men. Regardless of why a particular belief suffices, as long as it serves this purpose, it must be accorded the same status of an orthodox religious belief. Of course, the belief cannot violate the laws or morals of the community, but subject to this limitation, the content of the belief is not a matter of governmental concern.

[13] If this be a correct approach, and we submit that it is, the proper interpretation of the terms “religion” or “religious” in tax exemption laws should not include any reference to whether the beliefs involved are theistic or nontheistic. Religion simply includes: (1) a belief, not necessarily referring to supernatural powers; (2) a cult, involving a gregarious association openly expressing the belief; (3) a system of moral practice directly resulting from an adherence to the belief; and (4) an organization within the cult designed to observe the tenets of belief. The content of the belief is of no moment. Assuming this definition of “religion” is correct, then it necessarily follows that any lawful means of formally observing the tenets of the cult is “worship,” within the meaning of the taxexemption provision. Admittedly, respondent meets these tests.

There is still another problem involved that has not been discussed, and that is the anomalous nature of the church exemption. [14a] Direct tax subsidies of any churchor sect or of all churches and sects are undoubtedly prohibited by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution above quoted. [15] Separation of church and state is compelled by the federal and state Constitutions. As stated by Mr. Justice Shenk, speaking for the majority of the court in First Unitarian Church v. County of Los Angeles, 48 Cal.2d 419, at p. 434 [311 P.2d 508]: “Without the slightest doubt the First Amendment reflects the philosophy that church and state should be kept separate.” [14b] A tax exemption is, obviously, an indirect subsidy. Thus, logically, any tax exemption to a church, regardless of the beliefs of its members, can be questioned. The more recent United States Supreme Court cases have indicated how divided that court is on this problem, and have made it clear that it is not easy to justify logically the tax exemption provisions. In Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 [67 S.Ct. 504, 91 L.Ed. 711, 168 A.L.R. 1392], the majority of the court upheld payment by a school board that compensated parents for their children’s bus fares even though the children were attending parochial schools. 694*694 The court stated that the state had gone to the “verge” of its constitutional power, and then stated (p. 15): “Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. … No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.” That is ominous language so far as the validity of tax exemption provisions for churches is concerned.

In McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 [68 S.Ct. 461, 92 L.Ed. 649, 2 A.L.R.2d 1338], the court was faced with a so-called “released time” statute under which children in public schools were given, if they desired, time off from regular school work, to attend sectarian religious instruction classes conducted by the church of their choice. The classes were held on school property. The statute was held to be unconstitutional. The court stated (p. 212): “Here not only are the State’s tax-supported public school buildings used for the dissemination of religious doctrines. The State also affords sectarian groups an invaluable aid in that it helps to provide pupils for their religious classes through use of the State’s compulsory school machinery. This is not a separation of Church and State.”

The most recent opinion in point is Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 [72 S.Ct. 679, 96 L.Ed. 954], which upheld a “released time” statute where the classes were not held on school property. The philosophy of the opinion indicates no important retreat from the principles previously announced. At page 314 appears the following: “Government may not finance religious groups nor undertake religious instruction nor blend secular and sectarian education nor use secular institutions to force one or some religion on any person. But we find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence.”

Without delving into the subleties of the various majority, concurring and dissenting opinions in these cases, which contain frequent references to the constitutional prohibition against discrimination between religious sects, it is the view of many legal commentators that the rationale of these opinions makes it difficult to uphold, logically, the church exemption provisions. (See, for example, Paulsen, Preferment of 695*695Religious Institutions in Tax and Labor Regulation, 14 Law and Contem. Problems, 144, 148; Constitutionality of Tax Benefits Accorded Religion, 49 Columb. L. Rev. 968; 9 Stan. L. Rev. 366; see also Silving, the “Unknown and the Unknowable,” 35 Cal. L. Rev. 352, 365.)

On the other hand we know, of course, that every state and the District of Columbia has a constitutional or statutory provision exempting church property from taxation. In most of the cases where these statutes have received judicial consideration, their constitutionality has been assumed. In California the Supreme Court recently has held that the tax exemption provision is valid. It was so held in Lundberg v. County of Alameda, 46 Cal.2d 644 [298 P.2d 1]. That case involved the validity of a tax exemptionto property “used exclusively for school purposes … and owned and operated by religious, hospital or charitable funds, foundations, or corporations” subject to certain limitations. (Rev. & Tax. Code, 214.) The court held that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was not violated because, first, the religious school exemption was enacted to promote the public welfare by encouraging the education of the young, and second, such provisions must be upheld because of their very universality. In connection with this second point, the court stated (pp. 654-655): “Secondly, even if we regard the exemption as benefiting religious organizations, it does not follow that it violates the First Amendment. The practice of granting tax exemptions benefiting religious sects began in the colonial period. (See Paulsen, Preferment of Religious Institutions in Tax and Labor Legislation (1949), 14 Law & Contemp. Prob. 144, 147-148; Torpey, Judicial Doctrines of Religious Rights in America (1948), ch. VI, pp. 171-174; Zollman, Tax Exemptions of American Church Property(1916), 14 Mich. L. Rev. 646, 647- 650.) Today, at least some tax exemption for religious groups is authorized by statutory or constitutional provisions in every state and the District of Columbia, as well as by federal law. (See note (1949) 49 Columb. L. Rev. 968, 969-982.) No case has been found holding that the granting of such exemptions is contrary to state or federal constitutional provisions prohibiting the support or establishment of religion, and, where the matter has been raised, the exemptions have been upheld. (Garrett Biblical Institute v. Elmhurst State Bank, 331 Ill. 308 [163 N.E. 1, 5]; Trustees of Griswold College v. State of Iowa, 46 Iowa 275, 282 [26 Am. Rep. 138].) The United States Supreme Court, in 696*696 discussing the prohibition of laws respecting the establishment of religion, recently stated that the standard of constitutionality is the separation of church and state, and that the problem, like many others in constitutional law, is one of degree. (Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 314 [72 S.Ct. 679, 96 L.Ed. 954].) The principle of separation of church and state is not impaired by granting tax exemptions to religious groups generally, and it seems clear that the First Amendment was not intended to prohibit such exemptions. Accordingly, an exemption of property used for educational purposes may validly be applied to school property owned and operated by religious organizations.”

It is interesting to note that the United States Supreme Court dismissed an appeal in the Lundberg case because that appeal did not present a “substantial federal question.” (352 U.S. 921.)

The first reason given by the Supreme Court of California for upholding the exemption is not applicable to the church exemption. The second one is applicable. [16] Certainly, while the very universality of the practice of exempting church property from taxation may not be a conclusive test of constitutionality, it certainly is a sound reason for courts to be extremely reluctant to take any steps to disturb such a practice.

This discussion about the validity of church tax exemption provisions is not indulged in because the members of this court have any doubts about the constitutionality of such provisions, but because the discussion suggests, first, that a logical and legal justification of such provisions must be found, and secondly, that in interpreting such provisions the court should be very careful not to limit them by such a narrow construction that by the very limitations imposed, constitutionality is adversely affected.

First, as to a legal justification for the provisions. [17] It is sound public policy to encourage, by tax exemption as well as by direct subsidy, private undertakings in the fields that are properly within the realm of governmental responsibility. Thus, welfare, charitable and private educational grants and subsidies are valid. All churches that warrant the exemption perform some of these tasks. Therefore, churches can be indirectly subsidized for the performance of these tasks. But this indirect subsidy is not for the activities that are peculiarily religious in the sense of dogma or doctrine, but for the many other things all churches do which are properly cognizable 697*697 by the state. This is the legal justification suggested in several of the above articles. This view received indirect judicial recognition in the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Reed in the McCollum case when he stated (333 U.S. at p. 249): “It seems clear to me that the ‘aid’ referred to by the Court in the Everson case could not have been those incidental advantages that religious bodies, with other groups similarly situated, obtain as a by-product of organized society. This explains the well-known fact that all churches receive ‘aid’ from government in the form of freedom from taxation.” It also received judicial recognition in the majority opinion in First Unitarian Church v. County of Los Angeles, 48 Cal.2d 419, 438-439 [311 P.2d 508], when it was stated: “This legitimate objective [to grant the church exemption] is sought to be accomplished by placing in a favored economic position, and thus to promote their well being and sphere of influence, those particular persons and groups of individuals who are capable of formulating policies relating to good morals and respect for the law. It has been said that when churchproperties are exempted from taxation ‘it must be because, apart from religiousconsiderations, churches are regarded as institutions established to inculcate principles of sound morality, leading citizens to a more ready obedience to the laws.’ (County of Santa Clara v. Southern Pac. R. Co., 18 F. 385, 400 …)”

How do these observations apply to the instant case? [18] The answer is obvious. We should interpret article XIII, section 1 1/2, if possible, so as not to offend the federal Constitution. If the words “religious worship” are given a narrow, limited meaning, so as to require a belief in and adoration of a Supreme Being, then grave doubts would exist as to the constitutionality of the section. On the other hand, a definition which emphasizes the “nonreligious” facets of the conduct of respondent will serve to sustain the constitutionality of the section. Our interpretation of the tax exemption provision must be as broad as is reasonably necessary to uphold it. If we limit the exemption to those who advocate theism then it is quite possible that the Supreme Court of the United States may hold that such an interpretation encourages particular religious doctrines and practices and thus violates the division between church and state. [19] Theism is a concept which is peculiar to religious theory and practice in the technical sense. It is not a feature common to those advantages gained by the state and supportable by it, through the 698*698 activities of private educational and charitable institutions. The problem can be reduced to a simple formula. If the state cannot constitutionally subsidize religion under the First Amendment, then it cannot subsidize theism. If the state can constitutionally subsidize those functions of religious groups which are not related to “religion” in its narrow sense, then it must subsidize those nontheistic groups which perform the same functions. The First Amendment precludes a classification based on them.

The basic question then is not whether theism is necessarily the basic element of “religion.” It can be assumed that the words “religious worship” in the ordinary and commonly used sense require a belief in a Supreme Being. [20] But the United States Constitution prohibits a subsidy to foster “religious worship,” used in this sense. The real question is whether the activities of the Fellowship of Humanity which in the above sense are “nonreligious,” and which include all of the Fellowship’s activities, are analogous to the activities, serve the same place in the lives of its members, and occupy the same place in society, as the activities of the theistic churches. [21] In the present case, it is conceded that in all respects the Fellowship’s activities are similar to those of the theistic groups, except for their belief or lack of belief in a Supreme Being. It therefore follows that the constitutional exemption is equally applicable to both groups. Respondent is therefore entitled to the exemption.

[22] The next contention of appellants is that even if the property of respondent is devoted to “religious worship” as those words are used in article XIII, section 1 1/2 of the California Constitution, such property is not used “solely and exclusively” for such purpose within the meaning of the section. Appellants rely on the findings to the effect that the property is occasionally used by other organizations and occasionally for dances, dinners and meetings held by respondent. The contention does not require lengthy consideration. Such provisions are to be “reasonably construed, having in mind the object of the provision, and in furtherance of its underlying intent.” (San Francisco-Oakland T. Rys. v. Johnson, 210 Cal. 138, 150 [291 P. 197].) One of the cases referred to with approval in that case is First Unitarian Soc. v. Town of Hartford, 66 Conn. 368 [34 A. 89]. The court there stated (p. 90): “The policy on which the exemption of church buildings from taxation is granted is the encouragement of religion; and that policy is not hindered, but, 699*699 rather, promoted, by permitting this building to be used for profit when not needed for those services distinctly called ‘religious services’; for literary, scientific, or entertaining exercises, or for any other thing not inappropriate to be had in a church.”

Under the cases, it is certainly well settled that however strict the courts may be in determining whether the use of property brings it within the exemption at all, if the court once holds that the property generally qualifies for the exemption, it will be extremely liberal in holding that some incidental use does not take it out of the exemption. Thus in Y.M.C.A. v. County of Los Angeles, 35 Cal.2d 760 [221 P.2d 47],  …

KOPSOMBUT-MYINT BUDDHIST CENTER, v. STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, 728 S.W. 2d 327 (1986) Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Middle Section, at Nashville. Permission to Appeal Denied, April 6, 1987

First, below is a brief statement of relevant matters in the case, with the most important – for church organization purposes – point(s), then, a more extensive summary below that.

KOPSOMBUT-MYINT BUDDHIST CENTER, v. STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, 728 S.W. 2d 327 (1986) Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Middle Section, at Nashville. Permission to Appeal Denied, April 6, 1987.

Point of importance. Property held in trust qualifies for a property tax exemption, if the property is used for religious purposes and the owner, any stockholder, officer, member or employee of such institution is not lawfully entitled to receive and pecuniary profit from the operations of that property in competition with like property owned by others which is not exempt. Property held in trust and which otherwise qualifies for the exemption is to be exempted from property tax.

Two members of a Buddhist organization formed a joint venture and bought property for a Buddhist organization. They requested a property tax exemption. The agency held that no property tax exemption applied. However, the appeals court, among other things, implied that an oral “trust” was created since joint venturers could not profit from the venture. The court stated: “A valid trust need not be in writing. It can be created orally unless the language of the written conveyance excludes the existence of a trust. The existence of a trust requires proof of three elements: (1) a trustee who holds trust property and who is subject to the equitable duties to deal with it for the benefit of another, (2) a beneficiary to whom the trustee owes the equitable duties to deal with the trust property for his benefit, and (3) identifiable trust property.” The court further held, contrary to the holding below, that the Buddhist Temple can be deemed to be the “owner” of the property for the purpose of obtaining a tax exemption.

KOPSOMBUT-MYINT BUDDHIST CENTER, v. STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, 728 S.W. 2d 327 (1986) Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Middle Section, at Nashville. Permission to Appeal Denied, April 6, 1987 (Click this link to go to the entire case online)

(Two members of a Buddhist organization formed a joint venture and bought property for a Buddhist organization. They requested a property tax exemption. The appeals court, among other things, implied that a “trust” was created.)

IV. The Temple’s Entitlement to an Exemption

… “There has been a great deal of litigation construing Tenn. Code. Ann. 67-5-212(a)(1)’s requirement that property must be owned and used for religious purposes in order to be exempt. However, there has been little litigation concerning the nature of the entity that will qualify as a religious institution entitled to claim a tax exemption. Thus, our analysis is government by general property tax principles” The court then stated that the property had been used for religi ous purposes [in 1982].

A. The Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center’s 1982 Exemption

The Assessment Appeals Commission found that the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center had not met the requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-5-212(a)(1) for two reasons. First, the Commission stated:

The restriction in the statute precludes ownership by an individual or individuals and by implication suggests ownership which has a foundation by law, whether the mode of its operation be by way of legislative enactment, a corporation or a trust, but imposing always an irrevocable use of the property for exempt purposes.

Second, the Commission held:

The property was acquired by Myint and Kopsombut in December 1981; the joint venture was not formalized until almost a year later on November 12, 1982 at which time a written agreement was drawn that went into substantial detail about the duties of Myint and Kopsombut, the events of default, the transfer of the property and profit or loss. It appears that the conditions placed on the two parties by the agreement in November may have had the effect of forming a trust whereas Myint and Kopsombut acted as trustees for the Buddhist Center. Until this formulation of the restrictions set out in the agreement, the joint venture was an association of two men who had equal right of control over the property. The fact that the individuals did not exercise this right is of no consequence nor is the altruistic intentions of the joint venturers. Either party or both who wished to transfer his interest in the property could have done so with impunity.

These findings indicate that the Commission denied Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center’s 1982 exemption simply because the joint venture agreement had not been reduced to writing prior to the beginning of 1982. We infer that the Commission reasoned that until Myint and Kopsombut executed this agreement there was no binding, irrevocable commitment to hold and use the property for exempt purposes. We disagree. In fact, all the evidence is to the contrary.

A valid trust need not be in writing. It can be created orally unless the language of the written conveyance excludes the existence of a trust. Sanderson v. Milligan, 585 S.W.2d S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Linder v. Little, 490 S.W.2d 717, 723 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1972); and Adrian v. Brown, 29 Tenn. App. 236, 243, 196 S.W.2d 118, 121 (1946). However, when a party seeks to establish an oral trust, it must do so by greater than a preponderance of the evidence. Sanderson v. Milligan, 585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Hunt v. Hunt,169 Tenn. 1, 9, 80 S.W.2d 666, 669 (1935); and Browder v. Hite, 602 S.W.2d 489, 493 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1980).

The existence of a trust requires proof of three elements: (1) a trustee who holds trust property and who is subject to the equitable duties to deal with it for the benefit of another, (2) a beneficiary to whom the trustee owes the equitable duties to deal with the trust property for his benefit, and (3) identifiable trust property. See G.G. Bogert & G.T. Bogert, The Law of Trusts and Trustees § 1, at 6 (rev. 2d ed. 1984) and Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 2 comment h (1957). We find that the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center has proved the existence of each of these elements by clear and convincing evidence.

Both the November, 1982 agreement embodying the parties’ commitments when the property was purchased in December, 1981 and Mr. Myint’s uncontradicted testimony show that Kopsombut and Myint intended to create a joint venture that would acquire the Treutland Street property and hold it in trust for Nashville’s Buddhist Community. They agreed to restrict their interest in the property by agreeing to receive no profits of any sort and to convey the property only to The Buddhist Temple when it was incorporated. These oral agreements are sufficient to establish an enforceable trust in the Treutland Street property in favor of the temple which came into effect when the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center purchased the property from the House of Prayer and Praise, Inc.

The trial court’s reason for denying the 1982 exemption differed from the Assessment Appeals Commission. It relied upon the portion of Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-5-212(a)(4) that states

“But the property of such institution shall not be exempt if the owner, or any stockholder, officer, member or employee of such institution shall receive or may be lawfully entitled to receive any pecuniary profit from the operations of that property in competition with like property owned by others which is not exempt.”

The trial court concluded that Myint and Kopsombut could have received profits from this transaction merely because they formed a joint venture to acquire the Treutland Street property. We disagree with this conclusion. A joint venture is inherently neither a for-profit entity nor a not-for-profit entity. Its nature depends upon the nature of the persons forming it and the purposes for which it was formed.

We should look to the substance of an arrangement rather than its form when we are construing Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-5-212. See National Music Camp v. Green Lake Township, 76 Mich. App. 608, 257 N.W.2d 188, 191 (1977). We have already determined that the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center was holding the Treutland Street property in trust for The Buddhist Temple pursuant to an oral trust agreement. It is the character of the beneficiary of the trust, not the trustee, that determines the availability of an exemption. National Bank of Burlington v. Huneke, 250 Iowa 1030, 98 N.W.2d 7, 11 (1959).

There is no question that the beneficiary of the trust, The Buddhist Temple, is a religious institution. As the owner of the equitable interest in the property, The Buddhist Temple can be deemed to be the “owner” of the property for the purpose of obtaining a tax exemption. See Hahn v. County of Walworth, 14 Wis.2d 147, 109 N.W.2d 653, 656 (1961). See also 71 Am.Jur.2d State and Local Taxation § 366 (1973); Annot., 94 A.L.R.2d 636 § 3 (1964); and 84 C.J.S. Taxation § 231 (1954). It is also undisputed that Myint and Kopsombut, as trustees, agreed that they would hold the property only for the benefit of the temple. Therefore, the trial court’s conclusion that Kopsombut and Myint could profit from this transaction is not supported by the evidence.

The case was remanded to the trial court to determine, in accordance with the opinion of the court of appeals, whether this property was entitled to an exemption in 1982 [and a total exemption in 1983 (this depended upon the use of the property in 1983].