Bill Gothard and the Civil Magistrate
A Debate -- Part Two

We have already read a letter and article which were posted to the Vine & Fig Tree Mailing list. At that time I had not seen the "Law Resource F (Booklet 52 - Preliminary Edition)" published by Bill Gothard and the Institute for Basic Life Principles. I called the Institute to see if I could get a copy. Contrary to some of the insinuations which were posted to the Vine & Fig Tree Mailing list, there was no secrecy or reluctance to send me the material, even though the material is part of the Institute's Homeschool program, in which I am not enrolled.

Needless to say, I do not agree with everything Bill Gothard teaches. But I also do not agree with most of the criticisms of his ministry. The purpose of this page is to correct the misleading impressions left by the Biblical Examiner article of October, 1992 which was posted to the Vine & Fig Tree Mailing list. I scanned in the IBLP material (on the left) and comment on the right.

Law Resource


The first thing that should be noticed is that this material is from pages 2875-2878 in the IBLP homeschool program. If I ever find a winning lottery ticket blowing across the street, one of the first things I would like to buy is the entire 3,000 pages (or however many) of this program. The idea that homeschooled kids are discussing the tax revolt from a Biblical perspective is an exciting concept.
There are active and highly vocal groups in the United States today who claim that the tax laws of our nation are unconstitutional and, therefore, invalid. I am personally torn between the two sides of this debate. On the one hand, I am a pacifist and believe Christians should not resist the commands of the State (subject to Acts 5:29).
Behind the refusal of these groups to pay taxes is the concern that government will exercise too much control over individuals. On the other hand, the political system in this nation is based not on a principle of "divine right of kings," but of "consent of the governed." This means that I am not "submitting" to our unique system of government if I am not actively shaping political policies, and in some sense holding the government in check to the principles of "higher law" and "liberty" which shaped the Constitution.
Many Christians are involved in these groups. They not only reject taxes, but they also refuse to get drivers' licenses, marriage licenses, birth certificates for their children, and social security numbers. Probably the most interesting question is whether our system of government actually "requires" citizens to obtain these licenses. A recent article raises some challenging issues. The mindset of most Americans is unquestionably more totalitarian than that of the Founding Fathers. If taxes and licenses are "voluntary," then we are not "submitting" to the vision of the Constitution by allowing unconstitutional or voluntary regulations to become mandatory.
The logic of these vigorous opponents of taxation is expressed in the following statement:  
"There is no license without control, and there is no control without license."
The mind-set for such a statement is based on the perception that government is inherently evil, and if not actively resisted, it will destroy its citizens The difference between Bill Gothard and some "researchers" and "patriots" is that Gothard's ministry has always been intensely personal, while the work of tax-resisting scholars is much more theoretical. In theory, government licensure might be evil, but the flesh-and-blood people who administer these regulations sincerely believe that they are doing good. Confronting these people as "evil" is always counter-productive.
Let's examine the presuppositions of these tax-resisters and determine whether they are true patriots or misguided followers of false prophets.
1 "The power to tax is the power to destroy." M'CULLOCH v. MARYLAND, 17 U.S. 316 (1819)
This statement, made in 1819 by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. is often quoted and used by those who would like to propagate "tax freedom" and obedience to a "higher law." The actual doctrine is "an unlimited power to tax involves the power to destroy." Tax resisters are naive if they believe that the State would actually admit that it is out to destroy. "The power to tax is not the power to destroy while this Court sits" (J. Holmes, dissenting in PANHANDLE OIL CO. v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI EX REL. KNOX, 277 U.S. 218 (1928)
Several questions must be asked to challenge this presupposition '
Is this statement declaring that the purpose of taxation is to destroy? God said the purpose of taxation is to  support government officials.

U.S. Chief Justice
John Marshall

Is the statement implying that the power of taxation should not be in the hands of government, lest they misuse it? Such a conclusion would be contrary to the will and Word of God. God says not to take money from others by force or threats of violence. Nowhere in Scripture does God give an exception to "the State." Nevertheless, we are commanded to render tribute to wicked conquerors who seek to confiscate our wealth and threaten us with violence.
Is the statement communicating the idea that citizens receive no benefit from the tax money that is taken from them? This idea is certainly false, because the benefits of paying taxes are not only for public improvements. but also for the punishment of evil-doers and the praise of those who do well . Socialism is always less efficient than voluntarism ("Free Market," "Laissez-faire," etc.). Any benefits received from State administration of funds are diminished vis-a-vis a private sector source. Evil-doers who seek something for nothing are punished and rewarded by the inherently bad stewardship of the State.
The implications of this phrase actually contradict the character and will of God. The proponents of it fail to recognize His sovereignty. Vine & Fig Tree emphasizes the sovereignty of God over the State.

Read more here.

While seeing the consequences of oppressive taxation, they fail to see His sovereignty and His ability to control those who would misuse their power of taxation. We must also not fail to see God's sovereignty in raising up dictators who will take everything we own (including our very lives).
After all, it is God Who sets up one ruler and takes down another. God will also use government officials as His instruments of chastening to those who do not worship Him and obey His will.  
Jesus affirms the control of God over a secular ruler in His answer to Pilate, ". . . Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above . . ." (John 19:11). God gives power to dictators, but the power they exercise condemns them, because it is contrary to God's revealed Law. Imposition of taxes, failure to permit the exodus of God's people, and crucifixion of the innocent are all sinful, but they are powers given to the State by a sovereign God.
It is our responsibility as Christians to pray for those who are in authority over us, so that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life. (See I Timothy 2:1-2.) It is God's responsibility to control the hearts of those who are in authority-even in the matter of taxation. (See Proverbs 21:1.) It is also our responsibility to speak to those who do evil against us, to bring them to repentance (Matt 18:15f.; Luke 17:3; Lev. 19:17; James 5:19-20). To "smite" a king with the truth is a kindness (Psalm 141:5).
2 "The framers of the Constitution did not intend for government to tax the income of its citizens."  
The founders of the United States were concerned about a central government becoming too powerful. Consequently, they required that any direct taxes be apportioned among the states according to population-not according to income . And we also should be concerned about a government becoming too powerful.
In 1895, the Supreme Court ruled that an income tax law that had been passed the previous year was unconstitutional, because it was a direct tax on the people and not apportioned according to population.  
In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson urged Congress to pass the Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act.  
This act reduced income from foreign imports by 10 percent. The result was a significant reduction in government funds and a need to locate other sources of revenue.  
In that same year, the Sixteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution. This amendment removed the restriction against direct taxation and made it possible for the government to establish income taxes. Whether accurate or not, this discussion utterly disproves the contention of the Biblical Examiner that the Institute for Basic Life Principles discourages its students from studying the government and becoming involved in its administration.
3 "The Sixteenth Amendment was not ratified; thus, the government has no authority to collect taxes."  
Several books have been written to explain in detail why the Sixteenth Amendment is technically invalid. One of the chief arguments is that a sufficient number of states never ratified the amendment. The controversial amendment reads as follows:  

The Sixteenth Amendment

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."

Let us assume that all the arguments of the tax resisters are valid on this point, and that, in fact, Congress does not have the authority to collect income taxes.  
We as Christians would still be required to pay income taxes, because we live by a standard higher than the Constitution. Our lives are directed by the commandments and testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is an amazing statement. This is a proposition which deserves further study and widespread discussion. The Biblical Examiner makes no reference to this conclusion.
When Jesus was asked to pay the Temple tax, He challenged the validity of that tax by saying to Peter, ". . . Of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?" Peter responded, " . . . Of strangers. . . ." Since we are to pay taxes even though they are sinfully demanded, we should not be surprised to find that the Bible says we are to pay taxes even if they are illegal and unconstitutional.
Jesus concluded, ". . . Then are the children free." By this reasoning, He was assuring Peter that He, as the Son of God, did not need to pay taxes. However, He went on to say, "Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them . . . give unto them for me and thee" (Matthew 17:25-27). The purpose for paying taxes is not that we will benefit by the cost-efficient re-allocation of our funds (we won't be), nor because the State has a God-given right to coercively extract tribute from us (it doesn't) nor even because those taxes are levied according to constitutional and legal standards. We pay taxes so that we do not offend those who demand them, and thus open a door to effective witness.
The method that Peter used to obtain this tax money was significant. Jesus told him to catch a fish and take a coin from its mouth . We are investing our treasure in our enemies so that our heart will be concerned with his spiritual well-being.
Because Peter was a fisherman by trade, this represented a direct income tax from his profession . When confronted with an illegal tax, our duty is to protest and to pay; not to protest by not paying, and certainly not to go underground, saying nothing (to remain anonymous) and paying nothing.
God has called us to follow in the steps of Christ. The mission of Christ was not to right the injustices of the government but to establish the Kingdom of God, which was ultimately more powerful than the kingdom of men.
4 "Government must be actively resisted, otherwise it will oppress citizens, especially Christians." The key word here is "resisted."
It does not necessarily mean the same thing as "monitored" or "held accountable."
It presupposes a state of war between us and the State, whereas most of us are no more sinless (in our violent spending habits) than the State.
Such a conclusion is based on fear. It is contrary to the basic presupposition of Scripture which states that God controls government. As long as Christians do good, they need not fear any government official, for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. . . . For this cause pay ye tribute also . . . (Romans 13:4,6). Our attitude toward the State must not be one of warfare. The human beings who make up the State are not fundamentally different from us.

We must not assume that the State is not under the control of God; the State will be directed by God in response to our own sins.

Many tax-resisters try to associate their efforts with the Founding Fathers, who successfully resisted the taxation of Great Britain on the Colonies. However, there is no basis for such an analogy. There is in fact an analogy, but the problem is that the Founding Fathers violated God's commands by taking up arms against the State.
The primary difference is that the Colonies were separate from the nation of England, whereas citizens are not independent from their government. Each of the American Colonies, as other Colonies of the British Commonwealth, were chartered under the authority of the king, but were not subject to Parliament.  
Parliament was the governmental body for the nation of England. However, the Parliament sought to establish its rule over the American Colonies with taxation .  
John Hancock explained these important points in a letter to a London agent for the Colony of Massachusetts:  
John Hancock's letter:

        "By the laws of nature and of nations, the voice of universal reason, and of God , when a nation takes possession of a desert, uncultivated and uninhabited country, or purchases of Savages, as was the case with far the greatest part of the British settlements; the colonists transplanting themselves, and their posterity, tho' separated from the principal establishment, or mother country, naturally become part of the state with its ancient possessions, and intitled to all the essential rights of the mother country. . . .
        "It is presumed, that upon these principles, the colonists have been by their several charters declared natural subjects and entrusted with the power of making THEIR OWN LOCAL LAWS, not repugnant to the laws of England, and with THE POWER OF TAXING THEMSELVES

Many modern historians have described the colonists as wild and radical anarchists rather than as men who were dedicated to seeing God's work done only according to God's will. The Founders were complex personalities. They were very pro-government, not "anarchists," but they blew up government buildings and took up arms against the State (like "anarchists" are thought to do). They were far more Godly than the modern ACLU, but less Biblical than the earliest Puritans.
Another quote by John Hancock presents an eyewitness view of the attitudes of the colonists:
"We think it is incumbent upon this people to humble themselves before God on account of their sins, for He hath been pleased in His righteous judgment to suffer great calamity to befall us, as the present controversy between Great Britain and the Colonies.

"[And] also to implore the Divine Blessing upon us, that by the assistance of His grace we may be enabled to reform whatever is amiss among us, that so God may be pleased to continue to us the blessings we enjoy, and remove the tokens of His displeasure, by causing harmony and union to be restored between Britain and these Colonies."

Such a statement is totally devoid of the defiant attitude that is commonly attributed to the colonists. Regardless of their attitudes, however, we are warned in Scripture not to compare ourselves with others, but only with the character and life of the Lord Jesus Christ. This last point is most important. The Founding Fathers are not our standard, the crucified Christ is (1 Peter 2:21).
5 "The money collected by taxes may be used for evil purposes. The Biblical Examiner did not interact at all with this very significant point.
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress may raise taxes for the general welfare of the United States.  
Today, many government-funded projects are unmistakably evil, such as killing unborn babies, sponsoring lewd art, and providing drug paraphernalia for addicts.  
Scripture gives no support for withholding payment of taxes on the basis that the money may be used for evil purposes. Mary and Joseph paid taxes to the Roman government at the time of the birth of Jesus.  
There was certainly corruption in the government at that time, and evil projects were carried out with money collected by taxes, such as the slaughter of innocent babies by Herod.  
The rulers of the Temple were evil at the time when Jesus paid them a tax. They, in fact, conspired to murder the innocent Son of God. It is conceivable that the very money Jesus instructed Peter to pay was part of the money used for His death.  
Paul urged the payment of taxes at a time when there was open persecution of the government against Christians.  
Even some of the money given to Jesus during His ministry found its way into the pockets of Judas, whose evil deeds are infamous. Gothard is to be commended for this striking insight. The Biblical Examiner never touched it. Its silence shows it to be more irrelevant than the IBLP.
6 "Congress has no authority to delegate its taxation power to the Internal Revenue Service."  
The United States Constitution states that only Congress shall have the power to collect taxes. Congress is the Legislative Branch of the government.  
The IRS is a division of the Treasury Department, which is under the Executive Branch of government.  
Tax-resisters see in these facts a violation of the Constitution and, therefore, a nullifying of the right of the IRS to collect taxes, even if the taxes themselves are Constitutional.  
This argument is totally discredited by the direct command of Scripture-that we not only pay taxes assessed by the king, but by the agents of government who are appointed by the king.  
"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him. . . . For so is the will of God . . ." (I Peter 2:13-15).  
Christians who refuse to pay taxes on these or any other arguments may convince themselves that they are right, but they will lose the praise and approval of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and incur the wrath of His ministers, because they are actually resisting the Lord Himself. Again, The Biblical Examiner accuses the IBLP of being politically irrelevant, yet engages in no analysis of this insightful analysis.
In order to see the bigger picture of taxation, we as Christians must discern what taxes are actually judgments upon our nation as a consequence of churches' and families' failures to carry out their God-ordained functions.  
Check the items from the 1989 U.S. Federal Budget which were intended by God to be taken care of by the Church or the family. Total the amount of tax reduction possible. This is perhaps the most profound section in the "Law Resource." Are homeschoolers associated with The Biblical Examiner engaging their children in more exciting "Projects" than this?

Billions of dollars*

 National defense 607.2
 International affairs 19.2
 General science, space, technology 25.8
 Energy 7.4
 Natural resources and environment 32.2
 Agriculture 33.8
 Commerce and housing credit 55.6
 Transportation 55.2
 Community and regional development 11.6
 Education, training, employment, and social services 71.4
 Health 96.8
 Social security 465.0
 Medicare 170.0
 Income security 263.6
 Veterans' benefits and services 60.2
 Administration of justice 18.8
 General government 17.8
 Interest on national debt 338.6
Date completed _________________Evaluation _________

* 1989 figures arbitrarily but not unreasonably doubled.

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Subj:    RE: Check out The Biblical Examiner - October 1992
Date:    6/23/99 12:02:23 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: (Brandon O'Bryon)
To:    KEVIN4VFT@aol.COM ('')

Dear Mr. Craig,

       Thank you for your call yesterday. It is nice to know that the friends
of the ministry care about its reputation. Obviously, God has a greater
interest in protecting the truth than we ever could. We do try to
answer any critiques that are truly interested in seeking truth. Some,
especially on the Internet, are not willing to have the truth shared in
love for mutual understanding, but not necessarily for agreement. Mr.
Gothard is always willing to have the message God has given him from the
Bible better presented and biblically accurate.
       Permission has been granted to make a copy of the legal resource from
Wisdom Booklet 52. I can send that to you; I need your address.
       As far as I'm aware, all items from the publications list are available
to the public. There are no restriction on who may benefit from them.
       If you write a response, to "tctc" we would be happy to check any
factual representations made regarding Mr. Gothard's views for accuracy.
At the same time, we don't intend to write your response for you.
       Thank you for your concern and love for your brothers in Christ. Please
contact me if you need any more assistance.

God Bless,
Brandon O'Bryon
Legal Department

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