Friday, 27 April 2012

What price salvation?

This is a slightly technical post, I suppose, but it has caught my interest.

Those of us who are professionally involved in the business of running a charity (e.g. incumbents of churches or the like) will, of course, have spotted an HMRC consultation on a new Gift Aid Small Donation scheme. This will allow charities (and similar organisations) to claim 25% tax aid back on £5,000 of small donations, without needing any donor paperwork or declarations. Jolly good, I hear you say: £1,250 (or so) more income. There are strings attached, special procedures, definitions etc. But that's the gist of it.

But in reading the consultation document, I spotted one of those lovely little gems... (well, I think it is)

What sort of thing is this scheme all about - what sort of donations? Well. it says: "when a charity has a bucket collection to raise funds, or where a religious group passes a plate around for its members to make donations during a service"

Fair enough.

But then a string is attached...

"Qualifying donations under the scheme must be pure gifts ... no benefits may be provided to the donor in respect of a small donation on which a scheme top-up payment is claimed, although charities ... will be able to provide a small token of negligible value to recognise the donation, such as a lapel sticker."

Could be good reformation theology - placing money in the plate gives no benefit to the donor: no sale of indulgences here!

Or, if putting collection money in a plate is a sign of church membership - then eternal salvation has been entered into by faith, accompanied by worship, devout stewardship and renewed discipleship. Salvation is intertwined with popping a penny into the plate. So that salvation must be of 'negligible value'!

Or maybe we should give people a sticker to thank them for putting pennies in the plate - that is definitely allowed. Let the Lord sort out the eternal salvation with HMRC...

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