Category Archives: General

This category contains introductory material and general explanations of Kingdom Exclusion.

Husting: KE not for the lover of God

Steve Husting, an advocate of Kingdom Exclusion, offers these words on the subject:

Kingdom exclusion is not for the believer who wants to follow the Lord. It’s not for the believer who occasionally and repeatedly stumbles and sins. Such believers do not have a sword hanging over their heads ready to fall the moment they slip up (source).

His concern for scripture is admirable, but not entirely logical. Indeed, there are warnings (not as many as Husting supposes), but there is no such thing as exclusion (see related article). It’s absence is the first objection. The second is the conciliatory nature of his latest post at Living With the End in Viewis noteworthy, for it highlights the difficulty exclusionists have maintaining the orthodoxy of the teaching. It is so entirely speculative, how does one apply it to actual living?

Husting writes that KE is not for the believer who “occasionally and repeatedly stumbles and sins,” but for the one who has fallen away. How do we define falling away? How do we judge such things? Do we know the mind of God?

God demands that we be absolutely perfect, as he is perfect. Does Husting’s gospel excuse a certain amount of sin? Is there a certain amount of sin that is tolerable? Does God wish for us to walk the middle way? Or, is there a certain amount that God forgives, but a certain amount he does not forgive?

If we embrace that God demands absolute perfection, we embrace grace, for there is no other way to achieve perfection. But if we embrace that our sins, “occassionally and repeatedly” committed, are tolerable, we reject grace, for we assume that some sin is forgiven by the blood of Jesus, some not, and we advance the claim that righteousness is by works.

Living with the end in view

For the past few months, I’ve engaged Steve Husting in a dialog about kingdom Exclusion at his blog, Living With the End in View. Husting’s field of study is living the Christian life with “the end in view.” He maintains that, at the close of the age, Christians will be held accountable for how they lived. Though accountability is not the exclusive domain of exclusionists, they do maintain a unique perspective, that carnal Christians will experience some form of exclusion in the millennial kingdom. Moderate exclusionists say that unfaithful Christians will simply be excluded from reigning with Christ but that they will be present with the savior; some extreme exponents of this theology hold that the carnal will be hurt in the lake of fire. Husting claims to be working through the details, though he embraces the idea of exclusion as a biblical truth.

He argues that the scriptures “prepare us for a confident entrance into His presence,” but that “we often fail to see the link between our Lord’s end-times prophecies and our behavior.” He continues, “Thankfully, the Word of God has much to say to prepare us for a confident entrance into His presence. We often fail to see the link between our Lord’s end-times prophecies and our behavior. This web site attempts to make the link clear.”

The discussion between Husting and me focuses on a particular point: will the so-called carnal Christian be excluded in the millennial rule of Christ at the close of the age (Rev. 20)? My position is that they will not. No mention is made of the judgment of Christians in Revelation, let alone exclusion. That exclusion is absent in the key text is acknowledged by the majority of exclusionists.

I further maintain that exclusion is not mentioned anywhere else: in no place in scripture does it say Christians will be temporarily excluded from God’s kingdom, i.e. his presence. When you put these ideas together, you have the crux of my argument.

Husting’s position is that the warnings in the New Testament indicate that Christians will be excluded at some time in history, even if one cannot find an explicit reference to it in scripture.

After a few months of debate, he concedes my major points, though he does not change his position. Writes Husting:

1. “God does not reveal everything about a doctrine in a single verse.” Here, he establishes the idea that exclusion need not be expressly stated in Rev. 20.

2. Husting bolsters his argument, declaring that the phrase, “kingdom of God,” which is found elsewhere in scripture, refers implicitly to the millennial rule of Christ. “I’ve never picked up KE from Rev. 20. I’ve picked it up from Matt. 24:45-51, Gal. 5:21 and other perfectly plain teachings on the subject. What part of ‘shall not inherit the kingdom’ should puzzle me?”

3. His acknowledgment of my claim that exclusion is absent in Rev. 20 is categorical, but he vigorously denies that its absence confounds the doctrine of exclusion. “If kingdom exclusion MUST be found in Rev. 20 and it is not, then you’ve made your case that the entire doctrine is a sham, right?” Much later, he writes, “Since you believe that God has to put it in Rev. 20 for it to be true, nothing will satisfy you.” Of course, simply finding a passage in Revelation that mentions exclusion would satisfy me. When pressed on this point, Husting wrote, “To be excluded for only a thousand years is an attempt to harmonize eternal security of the believer and the passages on punishment of the believer. You won’t find a specific passage that ties the two together… [Thus,] your challenge [to find a reference to exclusion in scripture] cannot be met, so consider yourself preeminently unsatisfied.” Later, he added, “With regards to not finding a specific verse that the punishment is limited to one thousand years – that is a piece of the puzzle that is missing.”

4. At times, Husting seeks to distance himself from the term, yet only to preserve the idea. “Forget the term Kingdom Exclusion and hear what the passages are saying: Exclusion may happen at any time at God’s discretion.”

5. Finally, I asked that if exclusion is not mentioned in Rev. 20 (or all of Revelation), how would Christians have known that the “warning” passages found in other places in scripture spoke of temporary punishment in the millennial kingdom? Husting succinctly replied, “They would not have known.”

I have researched kingdom exclusion extensively for over a year now, conducting interviews, reviewing literature, and participating in online discussions such as the one at Husting’s blog. I offer this outline to demonstrate what is constantly lacking in this debate: a single reference in scripture. Even in composite, taking a verse here and a verse there, it’s lacking.

Yet exponents of this theology are confident that theirs is the correct perspective, that the general church community has failed to disseminate the truth about accountability. I find this astonishing.

Some rebut my claims boldly asserting that exclusion is explicitly mentioned in other places in scripture and even in Revelation itself. Yet when pressed to supply a reference, none is found. In short, exclusion simply is not taught in scripture.

Notes on Galatians in view of Kingdom Exclusion

The following will be of interest only to those engaged in the study of Kingdom Exclusion:

What I note in Galatians is that Paul does address a thing that is subsequent to salvation, but that which is consequential to it. What I mean is this. Paul is concerned that the Galatians have abandoned the gospel, not the pursuit of the millennial kingdom, but the gospel itself. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to another gospel — not that there is another gospel, but there are some who pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6). Notice, Paul is not concerned that they will fail to obtain the millennial kingdom, but that they will be consigned to futility in the pursuit of the law.

He explains that “false brethren” came in and sought to “bring us into bondage” (Gal. 2:4). Here, Paul warns the Galatians against submitting to circumcision. He rebukes them (chapter 3), not because they are failing to live with the end in view, but because they are abandoning the gospel that they first heard. Notice, Paul repeats this thought: “[we] know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified” (Gal. 2:16).

Now, if, as some suppose, Galatians is written to Christians who might fail to obtain the kingdom, i.e., to reign with Christ in the millennial age, why is he concerned with the gospel of saved by faith only?

Paul is preeminently concerned with their salvation — he is concerned that they will return to their old state: “How can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Gal. 4:9).

The issue is not that the Galatians are giving up the pursuit of good works, but that they are abandoning the gospel — this language cannot be ignored — and returning to the old way. Paul encourages them to return to faith: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).

From this warning comes another. That if they pursue salvation by works of the law, they will be consigned to works of the flesh. And he reminds them, rhetorically, that no one in the flesh inherits the kingdom.

(That he is referencing the millennial kingdom is to be rejected. The millennial kingdom was not revealed until nearly 50 years after this letter was written. That the Galatians would have understood Paul to be speaking of the thousand-year rule of Christ — a period not even called the Kingdom of God in Revelation — is beyond belief.)

The issue is not whether Paul is warning Christians, but what he is warning them about.

The fuzzy gospel

I’ve been researching kingdom exclusion, the belief that carnal Christians will be punished during the millennial reign of Jesus (Rev. 20), for over a year now, debating with proponents of this theology in person, on the phone and on the Internet. A long and fruitful dialogue can be found at Steve Husting’s blog: Exploring Kingdom Exclusion.

Often, exclusionists say they are merely studying the doctrine, that they have not formed concrete opinions. I don’t accept that this is true, for their blogging reveals the opposite. This is apparent in the accusatory nature of their writings, when they charge that mainline churches don’t teach accountability. “I can imagine that a majority of church-goers do not think about these things at all,” complains Husting.

Yet when pressed to explain exactly what “accountability” is, he demurs. “This is not an organized movement after all,” writes Husting, “so you should not expect cohesion. That’s what makes your crusade all the harder — no real consensus. If you successfully debunk one man, you’ll still find plenty of other people who believe in variations on the theme.”

Why would the “majority of church-goers” think about ill-defined “things”? Is it not reasonable to demand concrete answers?

To Husting’s comment that exclusion is not an “organized movement,” that I “should not expect cohesion,” I reply:

That’s my chief argument against exclusion: lack of cohesion. In fact, it’s nearly incoherent. It’s proponents lambaste Catholic purgatory (even using the same proof-texts), despite the obvious similarities, they present their ideas as established fact, despite that they rampantly contradict one another, and they accuse other Christians of not teaching this “truth,” despite that no one can agree on what it is.

You set up an interesting paradigm. Earlier in this thread you wrote, “I understand that he invited me to speak simply because I believe in personal accountability.” Well, I believe in accountability. I believe in the necessity of good works, too. I believe judgment will begin with the house of the Lord. I believe our works will be tested (literally or figuratively — you choose) by fire. So, if a precise understanding of scripture is not necessary, I suppose I also teach an acceptable accountability gospel — as do the majority of Christian churches.

Baptist purgatory, part 2

W. Robert Anfill, a Catholic writer, asks how kingdom exclusion is not simply a Protestantized form of purgatory. In an article for Catholic.com, he writes,

Many Fundamentalist Protestants interpret the Bible in accordance with the so-called “Dispensationalism” popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible… Dispensationalists go beyond even the classic Lutherans and Calvinists in their insistence on the “eternal security” of the believer, often insisting that even utterly fruitless and dead faith (cf. James 2) is saving faith! For this they are condemned by Calvinists for fostering a lawless or antinomian mentality. The dispensationalists counter this charge by affirming that, though no believers will be damned, some will be more highly rewarded for their good works and service than others; and fruitless or “carnal” believers will, in the Day of Judgment, even feel a temporary deprivation of the fullness of joy and glory.

See article at Catholic.com: Purgatory in all but name.