Update (March 31, 2011): Still no reply from anyone in the “kingdom believing” camp. One individual did email that soul salvation was indeed conditional, but that it was entirely by grace. Unfortunately, that statement is contradictory.
I’m often criticized for “attacking” Chitwood or Wilson or Faust, etc., but few who offer this criticism are willing to answer this one, very simple question:
Regarding “soul salvation,” is the soul EVER unconditionally saved by grace through faith?
Chitwood plainly states that the soul is NEVER unconditionally saved by grace through faith, and he goes great lengths to make this point (article link). Some will argue that “soul salvation” does not apply to eternal salvation, but to gaining or losing rewards in the millennial kingdom. That sounds fine, but, if the soul is NOT PRESENTLY saved by grace, will it EVER be saved by grace — unconditionally? I believe this is a fair question, though I doubt any will offer a reply. The consequences would be too unpleasant.
If my critics say, yes, the soul is ULTIMATELY saved UNCONDITIONALLY by grace, then “soul salvation” (as taught by exclusionists) is total nonsense. If my critics say, no, well, now they admit that salvation is not by grace at all, but by works. Typically, my critics want to occupy a sort of middle ground. Such ground does not exist. Either the soul is saved UNCONDITIONALLY or CONDITIONALLY — it can’t possibly be both!
I ask my critics that, before they post a comment or send another contentious e-mail, answer the question: Is the soul EVER unconditionally saved by grace through faith?
I patiently await your replies.
© 2011, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.
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 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
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
(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.
Powell’s sermons at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida, preached in 2010, can be viewed here:
© 2011, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.
Who are the unbelievers in 2 Cor. 6:14-16?
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…
Quite extraordinarily, “kingdom believers” assert that such are Christians who do not believe in the “Word of the Kingdom,” the belief that salvation is conditional and that so-called carnal Christians will be excluded in the millennial kingdom. This interpretation aligns Christians with darkness, Belial (Satan), and idols. It also provides a basis for excluding so-called “non-kingdom-believers” from their fellowships.
Attention was drawn to this teaching a few years ago after a recorded sermon was distributed among members of a mountain community in Los Gatos, California. The recording contained a 2006 sermon in which John Herbert, the pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida, stated,
Can I tell you this morning that no work other than that which is done in Boaz’s field is of any value whatsoever. Anything that is done outside of Boaz’s field is wood, hay and straw, and it will be burnt up. But we notice the progression of what we have seen here. We must determine to make this journey. We must determine to be obedient to the Word of God. We must be determined to do everything that it says, and then we start to work in Boaz’s field. Because as we begin to do this word, take it, use it, allow it to change us, see what it says and be faithfully obedient to it, we cannot help but start dying to self, we cannot not help but crucify our flesh, you can’t be obedient to this word and live in the flesh. It’s just not possible.
“And do we find there? (Ruth 2:8.) Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Will you not? You will listen. Will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here but stay close by my young women.’ We better stick around those who know something of the Kingdom and what they are talking about. Don’t go running off with any old body, just because we like the look of them. Praise the Lord.
“The scripture says we should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. Can I tell you that’s not talking about a non-Christian. It’s talking about somebody who doesn’t get this, who’s not interested in this. They’re the unbelievers. And we are not to be unequally yoked with them. We need people around us who can support us and encourage us in this.” — source
The juxtaposition of “righteousness” and “lawlessness,” “light” and “darkness,” and “Christ” and “Belial” makes it plain that Christians are not in view. (That no theologian, to my understanding, has suggested otherwise should also be instructive.) Paul states that Christians should be separate from the world; he never says Christians should separate themselves from other Christians, except in extreme circumstances (cf. 1 Cor. 5:3-5, in order to save the man’s “spirit”). He argues that believers are to be separate from the world, and not yoked to it or formally bound to it (cf. 1 John 2:15). Traditionally, Paul’s words are interpreted as an appeal against mixed marriages, i.e. union between Christians and non-Christians, which is ill-advised on so many levels.
The scripture says we should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. Can I tell you that’s not talking about a non-Christian. It’s talking about somebody who doesn’t get this, who’s not interested in this. They’re the unbelievers.”
Paul discusses marriage elsewhere. In 1 Corinthians, he explains that believers are not required to divorce their unbelieving mates (1 Cor. 7:12-16). However, he does forbid divorce: “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10-11). He makes this statement without qualification, and obviously he has Christians in mind. This prohibition does not apply in situations where one spouse has converted and the other has not. Here, Paul lays out an exception: they can divorce, but they do not have to. If they remain married, the other might be saved.
Unmarried Christians are encouraged to remain unmarried, though they may marry if they wish (1 Cor. 7:9).
That 2 Cor. 6:14-16 speaks only to the marriage issue is doubtful. Rather, Paul is addressing all spiritual unions. Accordingly, believers should have no union or partnership with unbelievers, i.e. those aligned with Satan.
Herbert’s interpretation of the text is troubling on many levels. First, there is the issue that Herbert avows conditional salvation. Cornerstone’s statement of faith states that “the salvation of the soul will be realized at the Judgment Seat of Christ and is determined by works.” Thus, “unbelievers” to Herbert’s reckoning are those who reject Paul’s admonition that “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” (Eph. 2:8-9 — interestingly, he does go one to say that Christians were created for good works).
Second, Herbert employs 2 Cor. 6:14-16 as an excuse for breaking fellowship with those who reject the so-called “Word of the Kingdom,” which in actuality is the invention of A. Edwin Wilson and Arlen L. Chitwood.
Herbert maintains that unbelievers are those “who [don't] get this, who [are] not interested in this,” i.e. the “Word of the Kingdom.” On this basis, he encourages disunion with other believers — not on moral grounds, e.g. Paul’s exclusion of a man cohabiting with his stepmother (again, cf. 1 Cor. 5:3-5) — but for purely sectarian interests.
Justification of Herbert’s teaching is common among “kingdom believers.” The leadership at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Los Gatos, California, for example, affirms Herbert’s position in a piece called “Confusion About ‘Unbelievers’” — that the unnamed author introduces a term, confusion, is telling; no one previously had been confused about the unbelievers. The unnamed author trails off into typology, ultimately concluding that partners with Satan can indeed be Christians themselves.
It’s quite extraordinary for a group of professing Christians to label other Christians (believers) as unbelievers. It is perhaps uncharitable. However, given that to accept the “Word of the Kingdom” is to believe that blacks are cursed, that salvation is conditional and that Christians will suffer the hurt of the lake of fire, other motivations must be at work.
The desire of so-called “kingdom believers” to separate themselves from other Christians calls to mind the apostle John’s admonition that “they went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). That “kingdom believers” do not continue in fellowship with other Christians, that its leaders condemn all other Christian teachers, suggests the “Word of the Kingdom” is not a presentation of the gospel, but rather a schismatic invention of carnal men and women.
© 2010, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.
The Word of the Kingdom conference is scheduled for early February (see link). Unsettlingly, three of the scheduled speakers believe some African and/or Arab races are cursed, or else promote literature justifying racial segregation.
2. In the 1980s, Royce Powell preached that certain races should not intermingle (listen to the sermon here — select “The Three Sons of Noah”).
3. Jim Brooks currently hosts two websites — calvarybiblechurchtn.org and thedisciplescall.org — promoting the racial theories of Chitwood, Powell and A. Edwin Wilson (download Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson here).
As “Word of the Kingdom” champions accountability, is it wrong to hold these men accountable for their words and deeds?
© 2010, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.
The “Word of the Kingdom” is a house divided. Churches and individuals associated with this teaching are split over whether a race of people called “Hamitics”1 are cursed. This breach is noteworthy inasmuch as kingdom seekers believe the “Word of the Kingdom” is not a teaching, but the word of God itself.
The late A. Edwin Wilson, who originated this system of theology2, contended that Noah pronounced a generational curse upon the descendants of Ham, whom he identified as Africans. Arlen L. Chitwood, a leading theologian in the movement and a former disciple of Wilson, contends Hamitics are under a curse, though he is reluctant to identify who they are. His writings indicate Hamitics are of African descent.3
“The curse connected with Gen. 9:25, 26b, 27b, of necessity, remains in effect today, will remain in effect until the Millennium, and will then pass out of existence (Zech. 14:21b),” Chitwood wrote in reply to written inquiries.
He added later, “The preceding would reflect A. Edwin Wilson’s position, my position, and the position of anyone who takes the Bible at face value and believes it. The latter would have to be the case, for the preceding is simply what the Bible states — something which no one can get around, no matter how hard that person might try.”
Churches associated with the teachings of Wilson and Chitwood are not so certain.
© 2009 – 2010, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.
Photo from Life magazine’s cover story on church desegregation, 1954.
Arlen L. Chitwood, a leading exclusionist, edited and now promotes literature affirming segregation as a necessary component of the gospel. In reply to inquiries, Chitwood defended the writings of A. Edwin Wilson, his spiritual predecessor, arguing that the Hamitic curse, “of necessity, remains in effect today.” He added that it is “something which no one can get around, no matter how hard that person might try.”
The “Hamitic curse” is the antiquated theory that Africans are inferior and are condemned to “national” and “personal” servitude by God. The theory is based on interpretations of Genesis 9 (the curse of Canaan). In the 1800s, it was used to justify slavery, and in the 20th century, it was used to defend segregation.
Writing in the 1950s, Wilson wrote, “WHAT GOD HAS SEPARATED, LET NOT MAN INTEGRATE!” (emphasis in the original). His essays were collected and published under the title, Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson, in the early 1980s. These include numerous denunciations of the civil rights movement.
An unabridged version is maintained by Chitwood, who edited the text, at LampBroadcast.org.1
Wilson, whose ministry lasted between 1953 and 1970, objected to Billy Graham’s Life magazine article, entitled, “Billy Graham makes plea for an end to intolerance,” and subtitled, “Arguing that the Bible forbids segregation, evangelist calls for both love and justice” (Oct. 1, 1954).
In his response to the article, Wilson declared that “integration, of which we hear so much today, is an effort to take two or more parts and fuse them into one, to integrate the colored race and white race through marriage, amalgamation, and assimilation, and to reduce the two groups (colored and white) to one group. Anyone who knows God’s plan and purpose concerning the human race can see the hand of Satan behind all this.”2
Chitwood and the late A. Edwin Wilson are founders of the “Word of the Kingdom,” a dispensational teaching that maintains salvation is “conditional.”3 Central to the message of the “Word of the Kingdom” is that Christians have abandoned the Bible, and that fundamental truths are ignored.
Chitwood has gained a wide audience on the Internet, but his views and Wilson’s views on race are not broadly known. A popular online edition of Wilson’s writings, for example, contains a only redacted version of Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson, omitting chapter 15.4 Chitwood includes this chapter in the edition he offers at LampBroadcast.org.
After being notified that I was researching Wilson’s racial theories, Chitwood offered the following reply, printed here in its entirety. Emphasis is in the original.
One can no more change that which is written in Gen. 9:25, 26b, 27b than he can change that which is written in Gen. 9:26a, 27a.
The curse connected with Gen. 9:25, 26b, 27b, of necessity, remains in effect today, will remain in effect until the Millennium, and will then pass out of existence (Zech. 14:21b).
The blessing connected with Gen. 9:26a, 27a, of necessity, remains in effect today, will remain in effect until the Millennium, and will then be realized in its fullness during the Millennium and throughout the endless ages following, never passing out of existence (Gen. 12:1-3; Ex. 4:22, 23 [and there is an entire O.T., plus a N.T., filled with verses which could be referenced to show that it “must” and “will” be this way, with the two references shown revealing “why” it must be this way]).
The preceding would reflect A. Edwin Wilson’s position, my position, and the position of anyone who takes the Bible at face value and believes it. The latter would have to be the case, for the preceding is simply what the Bible states — something which no one can get around, no matter how hard that person might try.
Now, if you put the preceding on your web site, I don’t particularly care. But, if you do, I want the whole of what I have written in the preceding four paragraphs quoted, exactly as I’ve written it. Also, do not reference me on this matter in any way on your web site unless you do as I’ve previously stated.
What you might think or say about what I’ve stated is immaterial. I could care less. But, if you are going to comment on the matter, I want it all out there, exactly as I’ve written it, so people can see what you are commenting on.
In fact, if this goes on your web site, put the whole of the previous out there — all six paragraphs.
Asked specifically if these comments pertained to “African Americans and the civil rights movement,” Chitwood answered, “You can derive that information from his book, the chapter titled, ‘The Sons of Noah,’ pp. 271-284.”
Slavery and segregation constitute dark chapters in the history of the American church. Though Christians were first to oppose slavery on biblical grounds, the Bible was used by other churchmen to promote bondage and servitude. Proslavery ministers appealed to the “Hamitic curse,” gaining a wide and vociferous audience. So strong was opposition to abolitionism that in the early 1800s Congress outlawed the transmission of anti-slavery materials by mail.5 Abolitionists were cut off, and mobs silenced them further. Still, Christian abolitionists prevailed upon the consciousness of America.
The cost, however, was inordinate.
Between 500,000 and 650,000 Americans died in the Civil War, a war would not have occurred except for slavery. The continuation of race hatred in the 20th century added to the number of the dead. Thousands of blacks were lynched, almost always with impunity. When Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House, segregationists called even for the lynching of the president! His anti-lynch law was never considered by Congress.
The Civil Rights movement, occurring nearly a century after the Civil War, signified remarkable change. Equality became the dominant issue, and ministers could not remain silent. Some, like Billy Graham, called for an end to segregation (his own crusades were desegregated); others, like A. Edwin Wilson, called for its continuation.
There is no evidence that Wilson sanctioned violence against blacks; however, his theories contributed to the violence by giving justification to segregation. He even advocated the subjugation of African Americans, writing, “[The Hamitic] curse also involved general inferiority of the Hamitic race, and a special condemnation to the lowest degree of servitude. This curse consigns the Hamitic race to a position of national and personal servitude until the time of restitution of all things (Zech. 14:21),” emphasis mine.6
Wilson scoffed at the notion that people are created equal under the law and before God. “Are all people born equal? According to the Word of God they are not.”7 Here, he parodies Jefferson’s “all men are created equal” by assuming equality means sameness in physical being, social position and intellectual capacity. He deliberately ignores the significance of the clause, that all people are equal before God in the legal sense. Scripturally, the equality of persons could not be more certain: “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality,” (Romans 2:10-11).
Wilson’s views are so utterly deplorable, one wonders why Chitwood so voraciously defends them. How is such a teaching to be implemented? Must churches segregate? Must interracial couples divorce? What of the offspring of interracial marriages? Are they half-cursed, half-blessed? Chitwood offers no answers, no qualifications. Instead, he boldly defends “Sons of Noah,” asserting that it is “the position of anyone who takes the Bible at face value.”
Such vulgarity deserves absolute censure. It is entirely deplorable.
© 2009 – 2011, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.
literal (adj.) — in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word (resource)
When Christians talk about reading Revelation literally, what do they mean? Is John the Revelator literally addressing seven contemporary churches (circa 90 A.D.), or is he addressing the church today? I have always considered that John was speaking to his contemporaries, but I also maintain that Revelation is for the church today. However, I believe it must be read figuratively in many places.
Nearly all kingdom exclusionists hold that Revelation should be interpreted literally, but what is meant by that varies.
Some insist upon a literal reading of all passages. For example, J.D. Faust maintains that a “sharp two-edged sword” actually comes out of the mouth of Jesus (cf. Rev. 1:16 and elsewhere). “After the judgment seat, the fiery sword of the Lord’s mouth will judge Christians that have lived unfaithfully and have not repented in this life.”1 Should the reader really understand that a “sharp two-edged sword” actually proceeds from Christ’s mouth? Is not that reading forced?
Others indicate that Revelation should be understood literally and figuratively in some places, but figuratively in other places. For example, Arlen L. Chitwood maintains that the church of Laodicea was literally a church in a physical locality, but that we must also accept “the Laodicean Church of today” as a true, spiritual (i.e. figurative?) entity.2 In other places, no literal meaning is to be accepted. For example, Chitwood maintains that Christians will suffer the hurt of the second death, but not literally. In a reply to an e-mail inquiry, Chitwood explains, “Where Scripture uses metaphors, I’ve remained within that framework.” He adds, “Christians being cast into outer darkness, Gehenna, a furnace of fire, or the lake of fire, are simply four different ways Scripture uses to point to the same thing, using four literal things in metaphorical senses.”3 Unfortunately, he does not explain what will literally happen to so-called carnal Christians at the judgment seat of Christ. Perhaps, nothing will happen.4
If anything, Revelation should be read comprehensibly, should it not?
© 2009, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.