Category Archives: Word of the Kingdom

The carnal pursuits of kingdom believers

Variously termed “word of the kingdom” or “kingdom exclusion,” this branch of dispensationalism is a curious mutation of Christian evangelicalism. Predicated upon the formula of “faith only,” exclusion ultimately adds “…plus works,” which is the cornerstone of the teaching.

Arlen L. Chitwood, a leading proponent of this doctrine, writes:

“The salvation of the soul, unlike the salvation of the spirit, is conditional. The salvation of the soul is dependent on the life one lives after his spirit has been saved. It is dependent on the individual allowing the Spirit of God to impart spiritual truth into and control his life through his own spirit.” — Salvation of the Soul, p. 13

Chitwood later modifies his teaching, omitting the word conditional (see here), but he does not explain why he has done this. One senses he is aware of a contradiction in his thought, but he continues to insist that soul salvation is “dependent on the actions of the individual.” Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida — a church that promotes Chitwood’s writings — avows that “the salvation of the soul will be realized at the Judgment Seat of Christ and is determined by works” (source).

At its core, exclusion promotes salvation by works, emphasizing works and the carnal nature of humans so dominantly that faith becomes a mere prerequisite, not an end unto itself. Beginning with grace, exclusion ends with works — a direct contradiction of Paul’s teachings in Galatians (chapters 1 and 3 particularly).

The problem of exclusion

Chitwood and Cornerstone Christian Fellowship are not alone in advocating faith-plus-works. Joey Faust, a Texan pastor who popularized the term “kingdom exclusion,” argues that God will punish, not forgive, carnal Christians, teaching that God will literally beat unfaithful Christians with a rod of fire in the millennial kingdom. The rod, incidentally, proceeds from Christ’s mouth! (This notion is so bizarrely literal that it is incredible that even a few people take it seriously.) Ultimately, according to Faust, punishment, not the blood of Christ, redeems man from sin.

Contemporary exponents of this teaching are preceded by the likes of Robert Govett (1813-1901) and Watchman Nee (1902-1972), men who argued that sins committed after a person’s conversion are not covered by the blood of Christ exclusively. At the culmination of the ages, works are necessary for salvation to be complete. For justification of this doctrine, Govett and Nee employ passages relating to “kingdom rewards,” but insisting that rewards are a product of God’s grace, not man’s effort. At the critical moment, however, exclusionists argue that salvation is ultimately accomplished by works.

The contradictory nature of this teaching arises from vacillation. At one moment, exclusion expounds works; at another, faith. At no point are exclusionists able to reconcile faith and works, grace and human effort, ignoring almost entirely the doctrine of sanctification. Instead, they proffer soul salvation.

Nearly everyone who advocates exclusion champions eternal salvation by Christ’s death at Calvary. What they are reluctant to say, however, is that a person is not ultimately saved by Christ’s death at Calvary. Seeing man as a tripartite being (i.e. having three parts — body, soul, spirit), exclusionists argue that only the spirit of a person is saved by grace through faith. The soul and body are redeemed by works. How one can possibly argue that salvation is by grace alone and by works, I do not know. Such is a contradiction of the plain and explicit meaning of scripture.

Deeper, more concerning issues

It’s not merely that exclusion contradicts scripture; worse still, it hobbles Christians spiritually. All that can result from it is futility and despair. Frequently, church schisms occur after exclusion is introduced into an evangelical community. Even marriages are disrupted, as evidenced from the many e-mails I receive monthly on this topic. As the spiritual well being of Christians is the chief concern of God, so should it be ours.

The tragedy of this teaching is that it attempts to address a legitimate question: What are we to make of sins committed after ones conversion? Is believing in Jesus a “get out of jail” free card? Is grace a license for sin? Certainly not, for Jesus and the apostles make it clear that saints are not to live in sin. But what does God do about sins committed after a person is saved? Does he just ignore the failings of his saints? Exclusionists handle the question in his manner: they argue that “carnal” Christians will lose the salvation of their souls, receiving physical punishment in the millennial kingdom (typically exclusion from the glories of God); afterwards, carnal Christians will obtain eternal salvation.

(I should note that many teachers of this doctrine assert that the penalty of carnality persists throughout eternity.)

The problem is that millennial punishment is never mentioned in the Bible. No matter how closely one reads Revelation 20, a section of scripture that explicitly mentions the millennial reign of Christ, no mention of temporary punishment is found. It’s simply not there. Further, the question of sins committed after conversion is addressed in scripture. Consider the apostle Paul’s response to the question —

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. –Romans 6:15-18, ESV

Notice that Paul does not say carnal Christians will lose the salvation of the soul; instead, he directs the reader’s attention to the sanctifying work of God that leads to fruitful living. Paul shifts the focus from works of the flesh — “you… were once slaves of sin” — to works of the Spirit — “[you] have become slaves of righteousness.” This is how Paul — and also the apostles and Jesus — addresses the question of sins committed after conversion. Anytime a person returns to his or her own deeds, or his or her own righteousness, that person exchanges the goodness of God for a lie.

Who has bewitched you?

The most challenging doctrine of Christianity is the belief that no effort of a person can save that person. This truth is so absolute as to allow no modification, amendment or improvement. A Christian must rely entirely upon the grace of God from the day of conversion to his or her final breath. To rely on ones own effort — even for a moment — is to fall utterly short of the goal.

Yet, works are necessary, even required. “Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” (James 2:19). C.S. Lewis wonderfully describes this apparent contradiction in a lecture found in God in the Dock:

The controversy about faith and works is one that has gone on for a very long time, and it is a highly technical matter. I personally rely on the paradoxical text: ‘Work our your own salvation… for it is God that worketh in you.’ It looks as if in one sense we do nothing, and in another case we do a damned lot. ‘Word out your own salvation with fear and trembling,’ but you must have it in you before you can work it out. But I have no wish to go further into it, as it would interest no one but the Christians present, would it?

How can it be that works do not save, yet are required? How can it be that human effort is futile, yet is necessary? The key is found in how one starts and finishes the race of faith.

In scripture, whenever works are championed, the apostles recall grace: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1-3, ESV).

What begins in faith must end in faith.

Ultimate faith

Some time ago, I was conversing with a Christian brother about the “word of the kingdom.” He very succinctly stated the principal issue is that “it’s all about carnality.” Kingdom believers, he explained, are so concerned about the works that they ignore the Spirit. The result is spiritual decline.

Scripture teaches us that if we want to be perfect as God is perfect, we must rely entirely upon God — in faith and also works. Yes, works are necessary, but, like grace, good deeds come from God. The idea that my effort can increase or improve upon God’s effort is preposterous and spiritually deceitful, “for to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6, ESV).

This is the ultimate step of faith: to trust that God will finish what he has begun.

A last word

I have been studying the “word of the kingdom,” on and off, since 2005, and for two reasons: first, the teaching had been introduced into my community, causing division, and I wanted to know what it was that I might rightly discern it; and, second, because so little has been written critically about exclusion, a teaching by no means limited to the people mentioned in this article. In my studies, I have made several shocking discoveries, but none so great as the following.

Arlen Chitwood claims he teaches the “full counsel of scripture,” that he teaches what the Bible says and nothing more, nothing less. Yet a search of his writings, all available in digital form, reveals he never addresses the doctrine of sanctification once. How can this be? Even in passages key to his argument, that specifically mention sanctification, he is silent. The fact is, Chitwood offers soul salvation as a substitute for sanctification.

In the final analysis, and I offer this article as a sort of final word on the topic (at least for the time being), this is the reason nothing good can come from the “word of the kingdom,” because it entirely undermines the message of the gospel. It is such a ridiculous falsehood as to give fresh significance to Paul’s admonition to the Galatians: “O foolish Galatians! … Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

His words still resound.

The problem of “soul salvation”

There is an interesting dialog going on at this thread: How Appealing is Kingdom Exclusion? Though advocates of exclusion disagree on many fundamental points, they agree on one thing certainly: the soul of a Christian is not yet saved. From this arises a critical question: why? Why is the blood of Jesus efficacious to save a person’s spirit, but not a person’s soul? Most exclusionists would simply reply, “Well, that’s just the way it is; that’s God’s plan of salvation.” All right, let’s accept that point, that the spirit of a believer is saved, but their soul is not. The question then arises, what ultimately saves a Christian’s soul? If it is not unconditional grace, what is it? And if it is not unconditional grace, how is it salvation?

Some, such as Arlen Banks, who is participating in the discussion, argue that “soul salvation” only pertains to receiving rewards in the millennial kingdom. If that is true, then it is not really salvation. In a word, it is receiving rewards. (Let’s just call it what it is.) Yet he continues, arguing that the soul of a Christian is not yet perfect, but that it will be sometime in the future. Ah, that leads to another question: what makes the soul of a believer perfect for all eternity? If it is not unconditional grace, what is it? And if it is not unconditional grace, how is it salvation?

The problem all exclusionists run into is that by dividing salvation into three separate works — spirit salvation, soul salvation, body salvation — they add to unconditional grace. They adulterate salvation. Trying to motivate Christian to good works (cf. Heb. 10:24), they alter the gospel; they present a false gospel.

The tragedy is that there is a doctrine that addresses the life after ones conversion: sanctification. And it is noteworthy that most exclusionists never address this doctrine. Arlen Chitwood, who has become quite a leader within this movement, never once, in all the dozens of his books, teaches on sanctification. The reason is plain: he has created another doctrine to take its place. He calls it “soul salvation.”

There is a reason why I place “soul salvation” in quotation marks.

Family Radio and the Word of the Kingdom

You may have seen Family Radio’s billboards: Judgment Day is May 21. How a Christian organization can draw this conclusion, claiming to know the hour and day of judgment, is dismaying, but not impossible to understand. Family Radio simply employs a method that is common to most heretical groups: namely, employing a method that allows a person to make the Bible say whatever that person wants the Bible to say.

Those who advocate the “Word of the Kingdom” use the same method.

Hidden Teachings — Key to the “Word of the Kingdom” is the idea that scripture contains hidden messages, things ordinary Christians do not see or understand. A leading proponent of this teaching, Arlen L. Chitwood, writes, “Not only will he able to go to the Scriptures and bring forth things which are ‘old’ (things he has already seen and understood) but he will also be able, from the things which are ‘old,’ to begin seeing and bringing forth things which are ‘new’ as well (things he has not previously seen and understood)” (source — emphasis mine). Chitwood points out that Jesus helped the apostles to see things that were otherwise unknowable. Never heard of Christians suffering in the lake of fire? Ah, well that is in scripture — if you know where to look and how.

Family Radio employs the same line of reasoning, regarding its May 21 prediction of Judgment Day. Do you believe that no one will know the day or hour? Ah, well look more closely…

However, God wrote it in such a way that it could not be understood until the world was almost at its end. Remember, understanding comes only from the Lord Jesus Christ, as we read in Luke 24:45: “Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.” This explains why the Bible is written in such complex and difficult-to- understand language. It is one reason why Christ spoke in parables, even as we read in Mark 4:34: “But without a parable spake He not unto them.” — source

Gnostics were among the first to suggest the gospels contained hidden teachings. What is extraordinary about this idea is that the hidden teachings generally contradict the plain meaning of scripture.

Entirety of Scripture — Another tactic among heretical groups is to claim that they alone read scripture completely. This is an arrogant assertion. Orthodox Christians have been studying the “whole counsel” of scripture since Pentecost. Yet, Family Radio and kingdom seekers insist that they alone study scriptures correctly.

Writes Chitwood, “[The Christian] has to compare Scripture with Scripture, i.e., he has to compare ‘spiritual things with spiritual'” (source). Of itself, this statement is not difficult to accept; however, Chitwood’s purpose is to accuse others of reading the Bible in a nonspiritual manner. He asserts that the reason most Christians have never heard of his teaching is because they do not seek the “whole counsel of scripture” (source).

Writes Family Radio, “Mr. Camping [their principle spokesman] has been a tireless student of the Bible for over five decades. The tens of thousands of hours he has spent analyzing the Bible has given him a unique perspective of the entirety of Scripture. He has dedicated his life to prepare himself to answer questions raised concerning God’s Word to man” (source — emphasis mine).

Connecting the dots

I think the folk at Family Radio and advocates of the “Word of the Kingdom” should meet. They could hurl insults at one another and pontificate on inane details, all the while employing the same method of biblical interpretation. If anything, the error of one might expose the error of the other.

Note: More articles on Camping’s prediction can be found at Agabus.com on May 21. 2011.

KingdomExclusion.com explained

I first encountered “kingdom exclusion” in the 1990s, at a church I attended in Santa Cruz, Calif. My pastor proclaimed one Sunday that faithful Christians would dine with Christ, and the less faithful would serve tables. All would gain admittance to the kingdom, but not all would be glorified. This drew “amens” from around the congregation, and I, too, found the idea intriguing.

The pastor was influenced, undoubtedly, by the writings of Watchman Nee, whom I did not know well, though I understood his books were studied by many in the church. I considered the pastor’s proclamation carefully but was ultimately unconvinced. Though his argument seemed logical on certain grounds, I could not find biblical support for the idea. Later, I would leave the church after the leadership embraced yet another novel teaching: the prosperity gospel.

Sometime around 2005, certain members of the church where I am presently ministering became enthralled by the teachings of Cindy Zeigler and Arlen L. Chitwood. At first, they said it helped them appreciate the scriptures on a deeper level; later, though, they decided it was the true teaching of scripture, the only true teaching of scripture. (I think they came to this conclusion much earlier, but, for whatever reason, did not say so.) In 2007, this group departed the church and started their own fellowship.

Having been given a copy of Chitwood’s Run to Win, I was not totally ignorant of the teaching, but I had not studied it thoroughly either. So, in 2007, I began to read, listen, and converse. I must say, what I discovered astonished me. I found that this “deeper understanding” of scripture advanced works-salvation, i.e. not saved by grace, saved by works. I found that this “deeper understanding” promoted a curse upon black people (even the Mormons have given up on that idea). I found that this “deeper understanding” condemned hard-working missionaries in foreign lands, simply because these missionaries do not preach the “Word of the Kingdom,” as taught by Chitwood and his predecessor, A. Edwin Wilson.

Is what I say untrue?

It is all documented at KingdomExclusion.com. Every fundamental teaching of the “Word of the Kingdom” is documented.

(The most unsavory of these details — the group’s teachings on the Hamtic curse — was exposed by Chitwood himself. He drew my attention to Wilson’s “The Sons of Noah,” and I downloaded the text from Chitwood’s site!.)

Today, in 2011, KingdomExclusion.com has mostly achieved its purpose.

Prior to publishing this site, very little was written objectively about the “Word of the Kingdom.” As the teaching is rarely introduced in its full form, i.e. the more controversial aspects are saved for later studies, I felt it important to publish my findings so that all can know “up front” what the teaching is about. Every once and a while I receive e-mails from individuals thanking me for my work.

My critics say I am uncharitable. They say I am “destroying” godly men. They say my research is sloppy and uninformed. To all this I reply that the assembly of believers under Christ is more precious to me than the feelings of a few schismatics. My research is well-documented, and I am available for questions — but I have a few questions of my own!

As regards the “Word of the Kingdom,” I believe I have exhausted the subject. Yet, there are two unanswered questions, which are (1) is the soul EVER saved unconditionally by grace through faith, and (2) how is the soul ever saved?

I’m not sure what direction KingdomExclusion.com will take in the future. At present, I do not plan to keep the site very active. This site has never occupied a very large place in my pursuits, but I find it must occupy an even smaller place. I remain available for questions. I may even publish an article once in a while, but I will not be pursuing this work much further. I have done due diligence. I am satisfied.

To my critics, before you opine, recall the questions mentioned earlier. If you cannot, or will not, answer those questions, what more is there to say? I think the subject is exhausted.

Chitwood omits “conditional” salvation in revision of book

Note, Sept. 4, 2011 — Chitwood offers an older version of Salvation of the Soul, which includes his claim that “soul salvation” is conditional (press here — PDF file). You can also download the text at KingdomExclusion.com (press here — All Chitwood’s Writings).

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Without explanation, Arlen Chitwood has omitted a controversial passage from the latest revision of Salvation of the Soul. In previous editions, Chitwood stated, “The salvation of the soul, unlike the salvation of the spirit, is conditional. The salvation of the soul is dependent on the life one lives after his spirit has been saved. It is dependent on the individual allowing the Spirit of God to impart spiritual truth into and control his life through his own spirit” (p. 13, emphasis Chitwood’s). The latest edition, offered at LampBroadcast.org, omits the term “conditional.”

It is not evident whether this represents a shift in Chitwood’s thinking about salvation. He has not replied to several inquiries sent to him.

While much of what Chitwood has to say about Christian maturity is edifying, the division of salvation into three aspects — salvation of the spirit, the soul and the body — is problematic. Chiefly, Chitwood contends that the soul and body of a believer are yet unsaved. He does not offer a plausible explanation for why the blood of Christ should have no effect on believer’s soul or body. Also, by dividing salvation into three parts, he creates different modes of salvation, so that salvation by grace through faith applies only to the spirit — the soul and body are saved by works.

Further complicating matters is that Chitwood never explains how the soul is ultimately saved.

Traditional, evangelical theology recognizes past, present and future aspects of salvation, but not different modes. Evangelicals contend the blood of Christ redeems the entire person.

Despite the omission of the term “conditional,” Chitwood still teaches that the salvation of the soul is by works. The revised passage reads —

And salvation now (in relation to the soul, not the spirit) becomes dependent on the actions of the individual. Salvation now becomes dependent on the life one lives after his spirit has been saved. Salvation now becomes dependent on the individual allowing the Spirit of God to impart spiritual truth into and control his life through his own spirit. — page 13, Salvation of the Soul

Similarly, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida, maintains that the salvation of the soul is “determined by works” (source). Chitwood is a regular speaker there and a great influence.

Chitwood attempts to resolve the issue by arguing that the salvation of the soul pertains only to achieving or not achieving rewards in the millennial kingdom. This sounds plausible until one considers that the soul of a believer, in Chitwood’s scheme of salvation, is not presently saved by the blood of Jesus, and, apparently, not ever.

Advocates of “Hamitic curse” to speak at WOK conference

Each has spoken at the “Word of the Kingdom” conference before, so this is not exactly “news.” Arlen Chitwood, Royce Powell and Jim Brooks are again scheduled to speak at the annual conference, which is hosted by Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida (see link). Both Chitwood and Powell advocate the “Hamitic curse,” the idea that blacks are biblically cursed; Brooks hosts sermons (including Chitwood’s and Powell’s) on it. In the past, the conference has featured African speakers, and its organizer, John Herbert, has spoken against racism. He did, however, state that he was unsure about the curse.

See the following:

Kingdom seekers split over race issue
Chitwood and others respond to Wilson’s racial diatribe

Editorial note: Several have asked why I continue to report on the matter. Fact is, people within the “Word of the Kingdom” movement continue to advocate the curse. It can hardly “go away” if new voices continually speak for it.

Kingdom preacher Royce Powell taught that “darker race people” are cursed

Royce Powell, a speaker at last year’s “Word of the Kingdom” conference at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida, preached, in a 1984 sermon, that the “darker race people, the black people” should not serve in positions of leadership or intermarry with other races. His definition of “darker race people” also included Egyptians, Middle Easterners and people of the “East Babylonian” area.

Efforts to reach Powell, directly or through intermediaries, over the last year have been unsuccessful.

In a recorded sermon, hosted at Calvary Bible Church’s website,[1. The date, 1984, is embedded in the digital file; http://www.calvarybiblechurchtn.org/audio-sermons/royce-powell.html] Powell taught that “the scripture tells us that the race [Noah’s descendants] was divided into three categories,” and explained that “Ham and his descendants were destined or were biblically assigned the place of being a servant of servants unto his brethren.”

Powell’s 1984 sermon:

Powell is a prominent and revered “kingdom” preacher, who succeeded A. Edwin Wilson as pastor of a church in Chattanooga, Tennessee in the early 1980s. Wilson, deceased in 1989, was an avowed segregationist, preaching and writing about the evils of integration through several decades of his ministry. His essay, “The Sons of Noah,” outlines theological grounds for the separation of the Body of Christ along racial lines.[2. From the Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson]

In the sermon, “The Three Sons of Noah,” Powell divided the world’s races into three categories: Canaanites or the “darker race people,” Shem or the “Nation of Israel,” and Japheth (traditionally whites). He added that efforts to unite these races were the work of Satan. “The ‘Canaanite’ is cursed… to be the servant of ‘Shem’ and ‘Japheth’,” explained Powell.

His comments on race mirror Wilson’s considerably.

Citing Old Testament prophecies, Powell asserted that it was wrong for the United States to “force” modern-day Israel into political agreements with the “Canaanites,” presumably Arabs and Palestinians. (Powell’s use of outdated and outmoded racial appellations makes it difficult sometimes to identify which ethnic groups he is mentioning.) “One of the ways that Satan has tried to destroy the nation of Israel is not only through war but through devising a plan to intermingle the races,” Powell stated. “And that won’t ever work. Doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, says, does — that won’t ever work.”

He explained that when races intermingle, the order of the universe is upset. For this reason, “Canaanites” should not assume positions of leadership, for this is equally offensive to God, explained Powell. “I just say that to be biblical,” he defended.

At one point in his sermon, Powell endeavored to explain why Jews are apparently so economically savvy. “The Canaanites taught them,” he explained. The shrewdness of Jews in business, Powell added, is not a positive quality; instead, the Jews should have avoided contact with the Canaanites. This is “why the Lord Jesus in two instances… cleansed the temple… he was ridding the temple of trafficking and the trading,” Powell preached. “He won’t allow that.”

It is not known whether Powell continues to maintain these views, but “Word of the Kingdom” churches have for the last year been promoting his sermons, including “The Three Sons of Noah.” In 2010 Powell spoke at a “Word of the Kingdom” conference hosted by Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida. In reply to inquiries, a church worker there directed KingdomExclusion.com to Powell’s sermons at Calvary Bible Church’s website, saying the sermons were highly esteemed. Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Los Gatos, California, also provides a direct link to that site at its home page at CornerstoneLosGatos.com.

Radio preacher Arlen Banks is featuring Powell’s sermons on his radio show.

“I have prayed about doing this for over a year now so, I decided to start 2011 off right,” wrote Banks at his website, TheKingdomoftheHeavens.org. He began posting the sermons late in 2010. “The responce (sic) has been great.”

Though KingdomExclusion.com has been unable to reach Powell, directly or through intermediaries, an “R Powell” recently posted a review at Amazon.com defending Wilson’s controversial book:

I originally received a copy of the Select Writings of A Edwin Wilson from the Editor, Arlen Chitwood in the early 8o’s, and have referred to it many times over the years for additional insight when I taught a bible class. I recently decided to re-read the book in full and found new insights in the Word of God. So impressed with its content, I purchased two additional books as gifts for my pastor and my sister, who pastors a church in Chicago.[3. http://www.amazon.com/Selected-Writings-Edwin-Wilson/dp/B001LOHSOU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294522891&sr=8-1]

(Previously, I had posted a review criticizing Wilson’s pro-segregationist views.)

KingdomExclusion.com first mentioned Powell’s “The Three Sons of Noah” in a posting dated January 9, 2010, and began sending inquiries that same month to various leaders within the “Word of the Kingdom” movement. None of the inquiries has been returned. In that same span of time, advocates of the “Word of the Kingdom” have begun to vigorously promote Powell’s sermons. It is not known whether they agree with his racial views.

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Powell’s sermons at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida, preached in 2010, can be viewed here:

Genesis 19 (link)
Isaiah 11 (link)

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“Word of the Kingdom” — heretical and racist

Having studied this teaching since 2005, I can only conclude that the “Word of the Kingdom,” as taught by the late A. Edwin Wilson and Arlen L. Chitwood, is heretical, and that aspects of the teaching are even racist. I do not make these statements lightly. These are harsh findings to be sure, but I must speak plainly.

Heresy –

Chitwood openly states that salvation is not entirely by grace, that it is not unconditional. Only the spirit of a person is saved by grace unconditionally; the soul is saved conditionally. This, Chitwood states directly: “The salvation of the soul, unlike the salvation of the spirit, is conditional” (The Salvation of the Soul, pg. 13 — emphasis Chitwood’s). This statement is antithetical to the gospel, which states that salvation is not by our own doing, but by grace alone.

The apostle Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10).

I have written Chitwood several times regarding his assertion that “soul salvation” is conditional, and his responses have been less than satisfying. While spirited, Chitwood ultimately declined to explain how conditional salvation accords with the Free Grace movement, which he claims to champion. I’ve also spoken with Roel Velema, who has translated a number of Chitwood’s works into other languages, about this matter. Velema plainly asserts that “soul salvation” results from human action, though Velema attempts to place this working of salvation within the context of free grace. I’ve spoken with countless others, all of whom decline to assert that the soul is saved entirely by the blood of Jesus.

Why is the “Word of the Kingdom” heresy? Because it asserts that the soul is not saved ultimately by the blood of Jesus, but that the crucifixion of Christ only initiates the possibility of soul salvation.

Key articles at KingdomExclusion.com –
1. Chitwood: Salvation is not entirely by grace
2. Kingdom believer claims to be unsaved
3. General objections to the teaching of Arlen L. Chitwood

Racism –

Here, I must stately positively that not all advocates of the “Word of the Kingdom” are racists, or that they all avow segregation. That is simply not true. Many participate in mixed fellowships. However, most advocates of the “Word of the Kingdom” continue to champion the Hamitic curse, which is the underlying theology of religious segregation. The late A. Edwin Wilson wrote and preached extensively on segregation, and his works are promoted by “Word of the Kingdom” advocates today. This is intolerable, and shameful.

Even more disturbing are the apologetic comments from advocates of the “Word of the Kingdom.” Ralph Alley, called an elder at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Los Gatos, California, wrote that Wilson’s segregationist views were “acceptable in some circles,” though he did indicate that Wilson’s teachings on race were “problematic.” Other advocates have gone steps further. Chitwood wrote two articles recently affirming the core of Wilson’s racial views, and Arlen Banks, a radio preacher, even asserted by e-mail that certain races should not intermix. He did not, however, take issue with congregations already mixed.

The unwillingness of advocates of the “Word of the Kingdom” to disavow the Hamitic curse entirely stems from two concerns: (1) their understanding of eschatology and (2) Wilson’s role in establishing the “Word of the Kingdom.” First, so-called “kingdom seekers” believe fundamentally that Old Testament curses extend into the modern age and culminate at the millennial kingdom. They do not appear to question why they believe in the Hamitic curse (there is no evidence of it in scripture), but hold to it as an unquestionable gospel truth. Second, Wilson founded the “Word of the Kingdom” and he was steadfast in his opposition to integration. He maintained these views from the 1950s (possibly earlier) to the early 1980s. Unable to accept that Wilson was garden-variety racist, advocates of the “Word of the Kingdom” advance that the Hamitic curse is biblical, though misunderstood and sometimes misused by modern theologians. Even Chitwood asserted that some people use the teaching in “racist” ways, but he does not explain how the teaching itself is not racist. Nor does he care to.

No believer in the “Word of the Kingdom,” to my knowledge, has disavowed the Hamtic curse — though some claim to be uncertain about it.

Why is the “Word of the Kingdom” racist? Because it demeans people of African descent, and undermines the unity of the Body of Christ by asserting that Christians of different races should not, ultimately, mix.

Key articles at KingdomExclusion.com–
1. Is Arlen Chitwood a racist?
2. No accountability among kingdom seekers
3. Race hatred and the Word of the Kingdom
4. Chitwood and others respond to Wilson’s racial teachings

“R Powell” endorses A. Edwin Wilson’s book

An “R Powell,” possibly Royce Powell who succeeded A. Edwin Wilson in pastoral ministry in the 1980s, has written a review of Wilson’s book at Amazon.com, endorsing the text. Here are his comments:

I originally received a copy of the Select Writings of A Edwin Wilson from the Editor, Arlen Chitwood in the early 8o’s, and have referred to it many times over the years for additional insight when I taught a bible class. I recently decided to re-read the book in full and found new insights in the Word of God. So impressed with its content, I purchased two additional books as gifts for my pastor and my sister, who pastors a church in Chicago.

As far as the review that Mark Adams wrote, it it appears his reviews on any Christian writing were mostly negative. — source

I have endeavored several times to contact Powell through various intermediaries, but have thus far been unsuccessful. If “R Powell” is Royce Powell, then these comments shed important light on the racial views of contemporary advocates of the “Word of the Kingdom,” which Wilson founded. Powell spoke last year at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida, and his sermons are promoted by the Los Gatos branch of that movement.

One sermon in particular deserves attention, for in it Powell avows that certain races shouldn’t intermingle. The title of that sermon is “The Three Sons of Noah” — direct link to mp3 file: http://www.calvarybiblechurchtn.org/images/powell/100_The_Three_Sons_of_Noah.mp3 — it is found at this page.

There seems to be a concerted effort to defend the reputation of the late A. Edwin Wilson, who advocated segregation through the 1980s. Radio preacher Arlen Banks reposted Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson after having pulled the text from his website over concerns that some of the content was not appropriate. Banks later disavowed those concerns. John Chitwood, Arlen Chitwood’s son (Arlen edited Wilson’s book) also posted a review at Amazon.com, saying Wilson was not a racist.

As regards “R Powell’s” assertion that my “reviews on any Christian writing were mostly negative,” I can only reply that I do not regard Wilson’s book as a Christian writing.

Can it be that salvation is conditional?

Arlen Chitwood boldly asserts that free grace is limited to one aspect of a person’s being, ones spirit. He explains, “The salvation of the soul, unlike the salvation of the spirit, is conditional” (p. 13, Salvation of the Soul, emphasis is Chitwood’s).

I have inquired of many, especially among those who promulgate the “Word of the Kingdom,” as to where such an idea is taught in scriptures. Where does it say that salvation (in this case “soul salvation”) is conditional upon how one lives, not upon the finished work of Christ at Calvary. Thus far, no one has presented such a scripture.

If you can find one, please comment