Providence PCA in Fayetteville, North Carolina Response to Pending BCO and RAO Changes that Would Levy Involuntary Taxes on Ministers and Churches
Whereas, in prior years Providence PCA has voluntarily supported the work of the Administrative Committee of the PCA by freely giving a portion of our tithes and offerings; and
Whereas, the 38th General Assembly of the PCA voted to change the BCO and RAO to stipulate “that local churches would be expected to pay 1/3% (one-third of one percent) of annual tithes and offering (excluding capital campaigns and special projects) as an annual registration fee and that ministers would pay $100 as an annual registration fee for the support of the AC. Voting in the General Assembly would be tied to paying the annual registration fee.” (Note 1); and
Whereas, this change would force ministers to pay for the General Assembly regardless of whether they were able to attend and thus represent their congregation; and
Whereas, this change would make giving to the Administrative Committee mandatory and therefore constitutes an ecclesiastical tax on both ministers and churches of the PCA; and
Whereas, this tax is cumulative, so that a failure to pay in one year incurs a debt that must be paid off before a church can be represented at the General Assembly; and
Whereas, this new tax is very different from paying the prior yearly registration fee which was neither mandatory nor cumulative; and
Whereas, the threat to withhold both congregational representation and the ability to vote at the General Assembly along with the threat that the Administrative Committee will “report to the General Assembly all churches that are delinquent two or more years in the submission of Annual Registration Fees in order that the General Assembly may take appropriate action” (Note 2) unless the tax is paid clearly constitutes coercion; and
Whereas, this tax constitutes a violation of the PCA’s constitution which states: “The superior courts of the Church may receive monies or properties from a local church only by free and voluntary action of the latter.” (BCO 25-8) and “Particular churches need remain in association with any court of this body only so long as they themselves so desire. The relationship is voluntary, based upon mutual love and confidence, and is in no sense to be maintained by the exercise of any force or coercion whatsoever.” (BCO 25-11); and
Whereas, this tax also violates the rule of giving in the New Testament which states, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7); and
Whereas, the fourth General Assembly of the PCA declared that “God has revealed in His Word that His kingdom on earth is to be supported by the cheerful, willing and loving tithes and sacrificial offerings of His children.” (Note 3); and
Whereas, while the civil magistrate is granted the power to levy involuntary taxes on his subjects in the New Testament (Romans 13:6-7, Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17) nowhere in the New Testament is the church granted the same power to levy involuntary taxes on ministers and congregations (Note 4);
Whereas, the Constitution of the PCA clearly states that “all church power, whether exercised by the body in general, or by representation, is only ministerial and declarative since the Holy Scriptures are the only rule of faith and practice” and that “no church judicatory may make laws to bind the conscience.” (BCO, Preliminary Principles, II.7); and
Whereas, this change constitutes a return to the same kind of ecclesiastical tyranny our forefathers were fleeing when they left the PCUS and formed the PCA; and
Whereas, the officers and members of this church “ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) and paying this tax would constitute a violation of our conscience and an implicit acknowledgment of the right of the church to levy such a tax, which right it does not have;
Therefore, the Session of Providence hereby resolves never to pay this or any other mandatory and coercive ecclesiastical tax regardless of the consequences of such an action.
(Note 1) “Actions of the 38th General Assembly.” By L. Roy Taylor, Stated Clerk of the PCA
(Note 2) “Necessary Rules Changes for the AC Funding Aspects of the Strategic Plan” available at http://www.pcaac.org/2010StrategicPlanDocuments/Necessary%20Rules%20Changes.pdf
(Note 3) Minutes of the Fourth General Assembly (1976), 4-74, Item 5, page 80.
(Note 4) Regarding Christ’s voluntary payment of the “Temple Tax” from Matthew 17:24-27 – The half-shekel tribute was something originally imposed in the law in Exodus 30 (although making it into an annual tax was something the Sadducees had done without God’s approval) and as such was a part of the ceremonial law. To move from this to establishing a right of New Testament church “authorities” to impose an involuntary yearly cumulative tax on teaching elders is not sound exegesis. One could just as easily move from this to demanding money from the members of congregations on a yearly basis for “the upkeep of the sanctuary” and threaten to take away their right to vote in congregational meetings if they did not pay.
[Editor’s note: the original URL (link) referenced in this article is no longer valid, so the link has been removed.]