I’ve been asked several times about Cornerstone Christian Fellowship of Los Gatos, California, as it is situated in my own community and as several of its members formerly attended Mountain Bible Church, where I am youth pastor and a member of the worship team. Apart from what is posted at their website (CornerstoneLosGatos.com), I do not know much about the congregation. Some of its members are familiar to me, but they have not been open to discussion on the topic of the “Word of the Kingdom,” a form of exclusion which they espouse. Briefly, I offer the following observations:
1. They do not have a paid pastor nor anyone qualified to preach; instead, they read notes adapted from the sermons of John Herbert, who pastors Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida. The Los Gatos church does have two elders and a teacher, however.
2. They promote extensively the teachings of Arlen L. Chitwood, who advocates that the salvation of the soul is conditional. The Los Gatos church writes in its statement of belief: “[E]very Christian has the responsibility to work out their salvation through Jesus Christ by faithful obedience to the Lord, confessing sins, and being washed by the blood of Christ. This process of sanctification will result in one’s faith being brought to its goal, the receiving of the salvation of the soul” (source). Though not stated explicitly, those who fail to “work out” their salvation will not receive the salvation of the soul. That aspect of a person remains unredeemed.
3. The church is particularly sensitive to criticism. Defending the “Word of the Kingdom,” Jeanne Alley, a teacher at Cornerstone, writes, “Others within the Church declare any teachings of the sort to be “heretical'” (source — links to a PDF file). I do not know anyone who considers the entire teaching to be heretical; it is certainly unorthodox, and some parts are indeed heretical, i.e. that salvation is conditional, but no one I know suggests the entire teaching is heretical. Instead, it is simply bad theology. Rather unfortunately, Alley does not address the issue of conditional salvation at all, though it is the principal reason “others within the Church” object to it.
4. Discussion of certain issues is closed. Though hosting a discussion forum, the church states: “If we find your questions or comments to be inflammatory or persecutory we will delete your post and ask that you refrain from any further blogging” (source). That others disagree with the teaching does not constitute persecution. It would be more helpful if the church agreed to an open discussion of the issue, rather than simply accusing all other churches of teaching an incomplete gospel, which is their principal charge against the Body of Christ at large.
5. The fellowship’s reading of scriptures is wildly allegorical and highly speculative. It is also not original. Often, the congregation simply parrots the teachings of Pastor Herbert, who largely parrots the teachings of Chitwood. The latter’s teachings have been reviewed extensively at KingdomExlcusion.com, and are not regarded as being particularly wholesome or edifying.
Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, Los Gatos, is a rather small congregation of earnest minds. Unfortunately, as with Chitwood and Herbert, they have closed themselves off to the fellowship of the Body of Christ. When genuine concern for theological matters is expressed, they perceive persecution and close the discussion. This is unfortunate, for I believe an open discussion of the matter would be meaningful and edifying to the Body.
© 2009, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.