Message #45 Next Previous
Does the Bible promote paying Taxes, Minister Crischuk
- Church of the Ecumenical Redemption
Is Taxation Supported by the Bible?
A Short Study!
In this discussion we shall only be concerned with and shall focus on the Biblical justification or non-justification for the imposition of an income tax on living souls, men, women and children, created by God in His Image. It is human labour that is the foundation of determining the cost of consumer goods and there is nothing that a man can produce cost-free unless he produces it himself, and then it's the cost of his energy which is replenished with food, if nothing else. The story at Matthew 20 is the basis for the phrase, "A man is worthy of his hire". Does this mean that any government may take a portion of that hire without that man's consent?
Many, if not all, linear thinkers accept, without question, the notion that there is Biblical justification for taxation. True, Deuteronomy does refer to "toll, tribute and custom" and so some form of taxation did exist at the time of its writing but the author(s) always assumed that the references were related to God-fearing and lawful governments. We'll deal with this later. However, there was no reference to direct taxation on labour. That is an invention of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels popularized in their Communist Manifesto, which, by the way, became the basis for the graduated income tax system prevalent in Canada today. These linear thinkers point proudly and authoritatively to two specific passages in the New Testament of the Holy Bible, largely because they can't find it in the Old Testament, for the justification of tribute.
The first of the two prominent, seemingly definitive affirmations for the imposition of taxation is "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" (Mat 22:21). The second is "For this cause [being subject to higher powers, i.e., rulers] pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers." (Rom 13: 6-7).
The wondrous thing about the Holy Bible is that no one can know for certain what the author was thinking, his motivation or even his purpose in what he wrote. Most interpretations of the written word ignore the contemporaneous historical background as if there were no socio-religious-politico factors which propelled the author to make his statements. As a result, misinterpretations are more common than not.
Before we progress too much further, let the record show that I know no Hebrew or Aramaic, Greek or Latin. Therefore, I cannot state definitively that I understand the meaning of the words used by Biblical authors. However, I am not unfamiliar with the historical events surrounding some of the authors. What I must rely on mostly is logic and intuition. Nevertheless, I think of myself as a thinker who does not accept the prevailing opinions for their own sake because I suspect the motives and agenda of the opinion giver.
So far, we have a score of 2 to 0 in favour of paying "tribute" or taxation. Tribute is defined in the unabridged edition of the Random House Dictionary of the English Language as:
"2. a stated sum or other valuable consideration paid by one sovereign or state to another in acknowledgment of subjugation or as the price of peace, security, protection, or the like; 3. a rent, tax; 4. any exacted or enforced payment or contribution;"
We shall concentrate on the New Testament and what may be revealed will clarify simultaneously what the Old Testament says about paying tribute.
Are there any interdictions against paying tribute to the same extent as there seems to be justification for imposing and paying it? And is there a plausible explanation and a different, reasonable interpretation of Matthew 22 and Romans 13?
The answer, I believe, is Yes to both.
Jesus was often referred to as "teacher" which Haim Cohn, in his book The Trial and Death of Jesus, translates as "rabbi". There are definite allusions to Jesus' knowledge of the Torah and works of the prophets and Psalms as he referred to them from time to time. As a teacher or rabbi, he would have been intimately familiar with Hebrew religious teachings and it appears that he was a member of the sect of Pharisees. As such, he understood only too well the political and religious history of his forefathers. He could and often did discuss and teach with the authority that could only have come from someone as learned as he was in God's Laws. If we may allow ourselves to conclude, rather than merely assume, from his teachings he was an "expert" in "the Law".
Let's see what he had to say about the beliefs of the chosen people of God. At the time of his birth until his death, Judea was occupied by the military forces of Imperial Rome with emperor Tiberius who proclaimed himself to be a "god" and with puppet kings ruling over Roman Palestinia. Herod was the king at the time of Jesus' birth and Agrippa II at the time of his death.
At the time also, Pontius Pilate was the ruling governor who had his palace in Caesarea, not far from Jerusalem. History records that, like most governors, he was brutal, ruthless, authoritarian, contemptuous of the subjugated Jews, cautious, cunning and corrupt. Despite all these qualities, he did display reasonable respect for Roman law and ignored Judaic/Talmudic law if the latter conflicted with the former. Through the various tax collection centers established in Palestine, tribute was collected on a regular basis. If more tribute was collected than was actually required to provide a fair share to offset the costs of maintaining the Empire and its local outpost, so much the better for Pilate.
What did Jesus and the evangelists have to say about this?
1. "And when they were come to Capernaum, they [temple tax collectors] that received tribute [1/2 shekel temple tax] money came to Peter and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him saying 'What thinkest thou, Simon? Of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? Of their own children, or of strangers?' Peter saith unto him. Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, 'Then are the children free.'" But since Peter already agreed (a promise or contract) to pay the tribute, Jesus told him to honour his word and directed him to go fishing for a coin for both of them. Mat. 17: 24-27 ( The coin in the fishes mouth, in the greek translation, was a four drachma coin or a stator which was equivelant to a Hebrew shekel the payment for two Hebrews of the Hebrew temple tax)
2. "And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom [Caesar's tax collector]: and he saith unto him, 'Follow me'. And he arose, and followed him". Mat 9:09 Then Jesus sat at table and shared a meal with tax collectors and sinners (a reference to those known as "unclean" such as prostitutes, adulterers, thieves, and others considered to have transgressed God' Laws). Some Pharisees (a religious sect of Jews) were offended by Jesus' actions and asked him why he would sup with the likes of these. Jesus replied, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick…I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Mat 9:12-13. He admits in clear language that Caesar's tax collectors are sinners, that they are the "sick" and that they require his help to gain grace.
3. "And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King" Luke 23: 1-2
There doesn't seem to me to be a better vindication of Jesus' repugnance and preaching against paying taxes than being accused of so doing. This preaching was a treasonous act according to Roman law, no less so that publicly stating that he was a King.
On page 267 of the 1968 Berkley Book edition of Edgar Cayce's Story of Jesus, the "sleeping prophet" said "Tribute was collected by the Romans [in Palestine]. And they attempted to understand and control both the religious and political activities…These were the conditions when this prophet, the Master [Jesus] was presented to the authorities for civil consideration. And it was claimed that he had neglected to pay tribute, and that there had been an attempt on the part of his followers to prevent the tax, or levies, from being paid. This was the accusation, rather than that which is recorded, even in Holy Writ." This was a message from a spirit called Philoas, a Roman who represented the Roman people.
Haim Cohn writes in page 185 of The Trial and Death of Jesus "the charges specified in Luke [23:1-2], of which Pilate would take cognizance…Pilate chose the second and asked Jesus only, 'Art thou the King of the Jews?' presumably on the view that if he admitted this graver indictment, the minor one might be taken as merged in it." Since Jesus pleaded guilty to the second charge, according to the interpretation of his words as understood by Cohen, the first became merged and did not require further questioning. In effect, by admitting to the latter, Jesus also admitted that he refused the payment of tribute and counseled his followers likewise.
4. Inevitably, when the "Render therefore unto Caesar…" quote is used to justify that Jesus promoted taxation, the quote is taken out of context and misinterpreted by the ignorant and interpreted fraudulently by tax promoters and defenders. But Paul and Peter warned about those who would pervert Jesus' message and try to deceive. Let's see what Matthew, the evangelist, had to say prior to and subsequent to Jesus' words.
"Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth…Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness and said, 'Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?'…They then marveled at his answer and walked away." Mat 22
In order not to be charged by the Romans with treason there and then if he answered negatively and in order not to be charged by the Jews with collaboration with the enemy if he answered positively, Jesus had to choose his words carefully. I downloaded from the internet a paper written by Professor Timothy Patton who wrote the following:
"There are several new testament verses that are quoted out of context by alleged
government authorities and false churches in order to deceive people into believing
that they should support their man-made governments and obey their man-made
law…God has never given His people authority to make their own law or to walk
in the statutes of men…The Pharisees knew that even their own Israelite kings could
not make any law, but could only administer God's law not turning aside from the
commandment, to the right hand, or to the left Deut 17: 14-18…Not adding to it,
or diminishing from it Deut 12:32…The Pharisees knew that it was a sin to walk in
the statutes of the heathen [infidels, non-believers] and that if their own Israelite kings
made any statute, it was a sin to walk in their statutes as well 2Kings 17: 6-8; 18-19.
The Pharisees knew that God's people have laws that are different from all other
people's and that even in foreign lands they do not keep the king's laws Esther 3:8
The Pharisees knew the principle that consenting with a thief, be he king or comm-
oner, makes one a partaker with that thief-and an apostate Psalm 50:18.
The Pharisees knew that those who participate in evil through the use of an agent
are guilty of the act themselves 2Samuel 11: 14-17; 11:26-27; 12:9.
Therefore, by the same principle, the Pharisees knew that participating in a heathen
government by financing someone else (an agent) to enforce heathen laws makes the
one who pays the tribute guilty of the acts of the heathen government. The Pharisees
knew that those who are obedient to God will not pay toll, tribute and custom to a
heathen king Ezra 4: 6-16.
The Pharisees knew that the throne of iniquity cannot have fellowship with God.
The Pharisees knew God's admonition about doing after the manners of the heathen
The Pharisees knew that God's people do not obey wicked governments [those who
rule in the absence of God's Law] that have other gods [shields and crests with
birds, animals, fish and unicorns, money, fraudulent banking, bowing to "persons"]
even if thrown into a fiery furnace. Daniel 3: 16-19
The Pharisees knew that those who have set up kings and princes (governments)
but not by God's hand, have trespassed against His Law Hosea 4: 1; 8: 1-4"
The Letters Patent of the Governor General of Canada of 1948 is a fraud because William Lyon MacKenzie King, the then de facto Prime Minister, signed the Letters without authority from the British government through its King. At that time, Canada had been given its independence from Great Britain by the 1931 Statute of Westminster. However, no constitution was ever drafted to be put to popular discussion and vote, thus rendering Canada as an autonomous colony of Great Britain under the 1867 British North America Act, an enactment of the British Parliament which alone can alter the B.N.A. Act. As long as Canada has no de jure Letters Patent of the Governor General signed by a British Monarch, the governments of Canada operate as usurped and unlawful governments, contrary to God's Laws. Thus to obey the man-made de facto laws would be a sin. However, a moral man does not sin against his neighbor, thus a righteous man may walk, seemingly within man's statutes, without bringing harm to his neighbor and still truly walk within God's Law.
"The Pharisees knew that it is a sin to keep statutes made by Israelite kings, let
alone a heathen 'Caesar'. Micah 6: 13-16
"The Pharisees were fully aware that God only allowed 'Caesar' to be in power
to prove Israel to see whether they would keep the way of the Lord to walk therein,
as their fathers did keep it or not. Judges 2:21; 3:4
"And the Pharisees were aware of the conclusion of the whole matter, 'Let us hear
the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for
this is the whole duty of man' Ecclesiastes 12:13
"Therefore, knowing all of the above scriptures, the Pharisees laid a trap for Jesus
similar to the question: 'Have you stopped beating your wife yet?' [where the
questioner expects a yes or a no response] They were certain that they could trap
Jesus into affirming that either: it was lawful to pay tribute to 'Caesar', which they
knew to be against God's Law, and thereby condemning Him under God's Law [or
that it was unlawful] to pay tribute to a heathen government ('Caesar'), thereby
condemning Him under 'Caesar's' law. They then could go to 'Caesar' and
thereby get rid of Jesus with the sword of 'Caesar'.
"He didn't define what was or was not 'Caesar's'. He didn't even affirm that the
penny with 'Caesar's' image and superscription was to be rendered to 'Caesar'…
The Pharisees should render to 'Caesar', a heathen who did not know or obey God's
Law, exactly what was due to any heathen or Israelite who did not obey God's
Law Num 15:15-16; Deut 27:26.
"Therefore, the Pharisees knew that what they had just been told was to render
[death] unto 'Caesar' and since they were declining to carry out the sentence of
the law, they were hypocrites. Deut 17: 11-12
"Jesus had just rebuked both 'Caesar' and the Pharisees by stating publicly that
both 'Caesar' and the Pharisees should be put to death, and the Pharisees who
hated Jesus knew it…'Caesar' and his agents didn't know enough about God's
Law to realize what Jesus had said…and 'Caesar' thinks to this very day that
Jesus was saying to pay tribute…
"When you research out the origin and lineage of the term, 'Pontifus Maximus',
you find the Babylonian origin. Essentially it is saying that 'Caesar' is God.
This title was later adopted by the Roman Popes. When one understands that
the answer was given under Hebrew law, then they [must come to] understand
that the same fate awaits all who pay the tribute to Caesar that God will mete
out for Caesar, then we can see that Jesus was clearly saying, 'Do not pay taxes
[tribute] unto 'Caesar' as was alleged at His trial."
5. Let's take a closer look at Paul's message to the Romans [former pagans who were now turning to the Mosaic laws, liberalized by Paul] who were introduced by Paul to what he perceived as Jesus' variation on an Israelite theme. Paul's letter to the Romans could have been motivated by his desire to encourage them to survive as God-fearing Jews in a hostile and foreign land, subject to direct Roman law and military presence. If they were to survive in this hostile environment, Paul knew that it would be expedient if they maintained a low profile. It might be said that Paul was the forerunner of co-operation and collaboration between Romans and Jews, but betraying the teachings of his Master as seen by Jesus' brother James and Peter who were more closely aligned with the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.
"After the assassination of the Emperor Commodus in 192 A.D., when Septimus Severus emerged victorious from a bitter struggle between Roman generals and began to establish a multi-ethnic empire, Jewish leaders in Palestine sought ways for Jews-as a distinct community, not individuals-to participate in the new imperial reality. Their offer of loyal participation in the empire was wholeheartedly accepted. The edicts of Septimus and his successor Caracalla officially recognized the religious office of Nasi or Patriarch-initially filled by Judah I (170-220 A.D.), his son Gamaliel III (220-230 A.D.) and his grandson Judah II (230-270 A.D.)
"As spokesmen and protectors of their people, the Patriarchs resided in Tiberius and, later, Sepphoris, presiding over the codification of Jewish law into a definitive corpus known as the Mishnah. They also conscientiously preached the obligation of Jews to pay all applicable taxes and avoid displays of resistance to Rome at all costs." Neil Asher Silberman, Heavenly Powers, Unraveling the Secret History of the Kabbalah, Castle Books, New Jersey, page 24.
Not all Jews agreed with this strategy but the dissenters were few, unorganized and easily discredited by the Patriarchs who by the second century, A.D. had corrupted themselves for the sake of mammon [man's riches]. However, during this same time, the followers of Jesus, the Christians, were becoming as strong in their faith and were willing to die by the thousands just as the Israelite Zealots had once been during the 71 A.D. uprising in Jerusalem.
Saul was very versed in the Torah and God's Laws and was familiar with Jesus' preachings including the prohibition against paying tribute to 'Caesar', a false god. That Saul disagreed with Jesus' Hellenist viewpoints and did so to the point of persecuting His followers is no secret and is briefly discussed in the book of Acts. He was a Jew but also a Roman citizen and could claim certain immunities upon prosecution should the circumstances dictate. Saul [renamed Paul after his conversion] had also some influential connections to the Roman Emperor by way of Agrippa II, the newly appointed Roman puppet "King". Saul had been a tutor to his son.
In their book, The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, write of Paul: "From the very beginning, his apparent wealth, his Roman citizenship and his easy familiarity with the presiding establishment have differentiated him from his fellows and from other members of the 'early Church'. Obviously, he has influential connections with the ruling elite. How else could so young a man have become the high priest's hatchet man? In his letter to the Romans (16:11), moreover, he speaks of a companion strikingly named 'Herodion'-a name obviously associated with the reigning dynasty, and most unlikely for a fellow evangelist. And Acts 13:1 refers to one of Paul's companions in Antioch as 'Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch'. Here, again, there is evidence of high-level aristocratic affiliation.
"Startling though the suggestion may be, it does seem at least possible that Paul was some species of Roman 'agent'. [R. H.] Eisenman [in his book, Maccabees, Zadokites, Christians and Qumran (Leiden 1983)] was led to this conclusion by the scrolls themselves, then found the references in the New Testament to support it." Read the book of Acts carefully and you might suspect, if not conclude, "the nick-of-time intervention of the Romans, Paul's heavily escorted departure from the city, his sojourn in luxury at Caesarea, his mysterious and utter disappearance from the stage of history-these things find a curious echo in our own era…the 'Witness Protection Program' in the States." Page 220 - 221.
With this cloud of doubt surrounding a man who persecuted Jesus' followers after His death, then recanted and began to create an image of Jesus to compete with the gods of neighbouring pagan religions, recommended Jesus' followers to co-operate with the man-made laws of the false god of Roman and then suggested they pay tribute to 'Caesar', it is easy to suspect his motives.
Of course, in defence of Paul, one might argue that what Paul meant in Romans 13 was to direct Jesus' followers to obey and walk in the shadow of the true ministers of God who obeyed God's Laws as set down in the Torah and books of the prophets as Jesus had done. If one could find such a government! The Christians couldn't find such a one in Rome and perished at the hand of 'Caesar' by the thousands.
If Paul's words were meant to be understood that all governments were ministers of God, to be obeyed and to which tribute should be paid (without question?), then it is a justification for the inhumane governments of Adolph Hitler, Idi Amin, Mhomar Gaddafi, Sadam Hussein, Joseph Stalin and others too numerous to mention. While it may be argued that all governments, good and bad, are the instruments of God, it must be remembered that governments are merely a means to test our beliefs and resolve to follow God's laws, regardless of the consequences. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26.
As I see it now, the score is 5 to 0 in favour of the Bible forbidding God's people from paying tribute.
I offer several Old Testament references regarding the duty of people to pay tribute. Exodus 30: 13-14 requires every man and woman twenty years of age and older to pay a one-half shekel of weight of some product once a year to the Temple for the maintenance of the priests. This became known as the temple tax.
"Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethimens, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom upon them…And whosoever will not do the law of God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment." Ezra 7:24-16.
"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." Deut 4:2.
And finally, "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." Deut 12:32.
Question: Should you pay income tax to the governments of Canada? I say, only if they are lawful and abide by God's Laws. Let's look at the record.
The Supreme Court of Canada has determined and ruled that until a human child is come out of the womb at birth, it is no better than an animal or amoeba and may be killed through abortion. Commandment 6: "Thou shalt not kill".
The government of each province and the federal government of Canada have imposed a tribute (income tax) on people's labour. Commandment 8: "Thou shalt not steal".
Adrienne Clarkson, the private woman acting as the Governor General of Canada publicly admitted in writing on the G.G.'s website that she is a de facto (unlawful) head of state and she invokes the Great Seal of Canada as her authority. Commandment 1: Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the Lord's Day Act which had made Sunday a holy day of rest. Commandment 4: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms introduced by Pierre Elliot Trudeau as part of the Canada Act of 1982 eliminated the right to property that had previously been everyone's inherent right under the Common Law, British law and the 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights, the last of which is still in force but not used by lawyers to defend their clients. I suggest that it is the Bill of Rights that applies to men and women while the Charter only applies to governments and their "employees" who are artificial "persons". Commandment 9 and 10: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbour" and "Thou shalt not covet they neighbour's house…wife, manservant…nor anything that is thy neighbours".
In every courtroom in British Columbia hangs a coat of arms of King Richard, it is said, on which is portrayed a unicorn (a non-existent and fictitious creature) and a lion in white trimmed in gold (denoting admiralty jurisdiction). Commandment 2: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth."
Anybody want a good "extra-marital affair"? It's not adultery anymore. Which commandment says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery"?
"If you sin against one commandment, you sin against all."
I, therefore, leave you with the burning question: Should a God-fearing Christian or Jew pay tribute to any Canadian government? Should any other righteous man or woman of some other faith pay tribute?