Yearly Archives: 2011

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.

FUQ: “Frequently Unanswered Question”

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.

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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.

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:
[audio:Powell-The_Three_Sons_of_Noah.mp3]

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