The Lordship Church
by Pastor Warren M. Campbell
What is a Lordship Church? A Lordship church is a church that seeks to give Jesus Christ the preeminence in all things. Its orthodoxy and orthopraxy are consistent, in that it is not a creature of the civil government through state incorporation, or 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status. What the state (civil government) creates, it regulates. An incorporated church is a freak of nature, in that it has two heads. A Lordship church has only one head - Jesus Christ. This article seeks to give more clarity to this important question.
It's happening all over the country - two or three families, getting together in a home, for mutual edification and worship. As time goes on, the teaching may become more systematized, baptism and communion are observed, and there is a real sense of ekklesia in the atmosphere.
If the families have been meeting regularly for over a year, and the group has grown to five or more families, the question generally arises, "why don't we become a real church?" This is especially true if the local body has been receiving tithes and offerings, and the people are not agreed upon as to what to do with the gifts. (As a side note, I'm very concerned about families who meet together regularly, but do no systematic tithing and giving of offerings and alms. This lack of regular giving is generally indicative of a heart of rebellion to authority in the church. I know a number of families who give to missionaries abroad, but because there is no intimate contact with the missionaries, there isn't an opportunity to rub the local family wrong, either through doctrine or practice. We should give to support a local pastor/elder because we are in covenant with that assembly, not because they please us in every way). The point is, there may come a time in the life of a home church when, because of religious programming, the church looks to the state for recognition and protection.
I would like to address another scenario, whereby the church and state venues come to the fore. When an incorporated religious organization, otherwise known as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, or what is mistakenly called a church, begins to take dominion over evil, a clash between the not-for-profit corporation and its creator, namely the civil government, ensues.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus Christ said, "I will build my church." It is absolutely imperative that we understand this. The church, or ekklesia in the Greek, does not belong to the state, and it does not belong to the people. It is not “our” church. It is “His” church. The church, or body of Christ, is not to be under our control, or the control of the state, but it is to be exclusively under His sovereign jurisdiction.
R.J. Rushdoony wrote, “…law is inescapably religious, in that it establishes, in practical fashion, the ultimate concerns of a culture. It must be recognized that in any culture, the source of law is the god of that society.”
Now, this is where the rubber meets the road: When a group of believers, meeting as a local body of Jesus Christ incorporates, they switch law bases, as well as Sovereigns. The nonprofit religious corporation's law of California, in section 9130 reads, “The articles of incorporation of a corporation formed under this part shall set forth:
(A)The name of the corporation
(B)The following statement: “This corporation is a religious corporation, and is not organized for the private gain of
any person. It is organized under the NONPROFIT RELIGIOUS CORPORATION LAW (Primarily or exclusively [insert one or both]) for religious purposes.”
Doesn’t the Bible give instructions as to how the church should be organized, and what its main functions should be? The nonprofit religious corporation law is foreign to the Law of God. This conflict of laws is not always seen immediately, but one of the obvious changes that a church makes when it becomes a corporation is in its vocabulary. Words like chairman, secretary, board of directors, annual business meeting, liability insurance, etc. are terms used in the world of commerce. What’s tragic is that most Christians use these corporate world terms in their assemblies, not realizing it’s the vocabulary of another system of law, other than God’s Law. Unfortunately, many Christians are talking, thinking, and acting like "religio-statists".
The Church can only be the pillar and ground of truth (I Tim 3:15) by being faithful to her head, which is Christ (Col 1:18). It is impossible for Jesus Christ to have the preeminence in all things when she has voluntarily joined herself to another master. The tragedy is, that there is no law anywhere, requiring churches to incorporate. It is generally done to receive a benefit, privilege, or opportunity from the state, rather than patiently waiting for the blessing of Jesus Christ.
Notice what the courts said in Gipson v Munson, 296 ark. 160: “The church – any church – has the absolute unfettered right to worship according to the dictates of their own consciences, so long as they do not trespass upon the rights of others. Having elected to incorporate under the laws of the state, they should be required to conform to the consequences of their voluntary act…Incorporating obviously was not done for reasons of religious belief.”
A number of Christians cry out at this point “Render unto Caesar.” Let us remember the emphasis of our Lord’s words in Mt 22.21 should be on “rendering unto God the things that are God’s.”
In Hollins v Edmonds, Court of Appeals of Kentucky – 616s.w.2d801, the court said, “Once the church determined to enter THE REALM OF CAESAR by forming a corporation, it was required to abide by the rules of Caesar, or in this case, the statues of the commonwealth of Kentucky.”
God has ordained four major spheres of government, which are self-government, family government, church or ecclesiastical government, and civil government. Diligent study by Christians into the origins, commissions, and limitations of each sphere of authority, which are clearly promulgated in God’s Word, would clear up much confusion.
George Gillespie, in his classic work “Aaron’s Rod Blossoming”, does a masterful job in showing that ecclesiastical government is, in his words, “co-ordinate with the civil.”
The church movement in the United States that chooses not to be unequally yoked with Caesar usually goes by the names of “unregistered church”, “Lordship church”, “free church”, or “liberty church”. These names all have the same basic meaning, which is Jesus Christ alone is the head of this body of believers.
Do you ever wonder why so much of the church world is so silent, while our country continues to exalt evil men and embrace wicked laws? One key reason is that, in America today, most churches are licensed, regulated corporations, which are scared to death of losing their sacred cow of “tax-exempt” status.
While living in Oregon a number of years ago, I ran for the office of State Senator in my district. The incumbent was an entrenched Democrat, who was very perverted in his judgments. The Republicans did not field an opponent against him, as the felt it would be a waste of money. I ran as a third-party candidate and sent 72 letters of appeal to local churches for assistance in signature gathering in order to obtain ballot qualification. In the letter, I gave the Pastors my list of qualifications and reasons for running, with my telephone number, so they could contact me. I received one response back out of 72, and it was negative. I relate this personal story, because a local pastor, who was a friend of mine, explained why he and probably most of the other pastors would not get involved in helping me. They were afraid the I.R.S. might revoke their tax-exempt status.
A maxim of law states, “Suo non possunt in solido unamrempossidere – two cannot possess the same thing each in entirety.” A not-for-profit corporation cannot possess the prophetic boldness which is often necessary when confronting evil. The state’s purpose in allowing churches to incorporate had one basic goal in mind – to compromise the church, and prevent it from bringing the Law of God into the courts, thereby stemming the tide of unjust laws and decrees.
President James Madison understood this well, and would not allow churches to incorporate in the state of Virginia. This was true until the 1990’s.
The power of a free church, and especially the power of several free churches in a county, has been almost totally lost to us. We must bring back true ecclesiastical courts to stop the Humanism which is permeating so much of our lives. These courts have a superior venue and Jurisdiction when they are free from the state’s entanglements.
There cannot be free churches, except in a free country, and there cannot be a free country unless there is a free church.