Publisher’s Note: I began this site several years ago, but I have largely ceased to write about exclusion today. In a word, I feel I’ve completed what I set out to do. I offer the following article, “The carnal pursuits of kingdom believers”, as a sort of final word on the topic, and recommend vistors to it.
Below is an older summary of kingdom exclusion.
“Kingdom exclusion” is a branch of theology stemming from dispensationalism that maintains carnal Christians will be “excluded” from the millennial kingdom as punishment for sins committed as a believer. There are several varieties. At one end of the spectrum, exclusion proposes that every Christian will occupy a place in the millennial kingdom commensurate with their faithfulness as a believer. Some will occupy low places, perhaps as servants; others, high places, perhaps as rulers. At the other end of the spectrum, exclusion maintains that “non-overcoming” Christians will suffer the hurt of the second death, or be cast into the lake of fire, or merely cast out into a place of darkness. The terms “kingdom exclusion” or “millennial exclusion” are in common usage.
1. Exclusion is a supremely carnal concern, antithetical to the spiritual interest of the scriptures. While the Bible warns against carnality, it does not propose gradated forms of righteousness, but absolute righteousness. Exclusionists warn against carnality, but they are unable to explain exactly how one should live in order to achieve the kingdom, except to say that one must be faithful (and who isn’t preaching that?). Egregiously, exclusion implies a degree of righteousness that falls short of the absolute standard righteousness demanded by God, who gives this righteousness (cf. Gen. 15:6).
2. Exclusion tends towards works-salvation, as reward or punishment is given on the basis of ones merit. Radical exclusionists go so far as to assert that salvation is partially determined by works.
3. Exclusion is absent in key texts of the Bible. While on one level exclusion is logical – certainly how one lives matters (such is taught in scripture) – the exclusion of so-called carnal Christians is never mentioned. The millennial kingdom, mentioned explicitly and solely in Rev. 20, makes no reference to exclusion. It is totally absent.
What is not contested:
1. Scripture does speak of reward (cf. Mat. 6:18). However, to quantify a person’s reward, to measure it, reflects deep carnality. For example, in the parable of the talents (Mat. 25) that one servant has five talents and another two does not reflect intrinsically upon their individual worth. One is simply given more, but he himself is not the measure of his reward. In the parable of the workers of the vineyard (Mat. 20), that master is made to be seen giving each worker an equal amount, regardless of how many hours each worked.
2. Scripture does speak of judgment of the house of God. However, very many instances pertain to the church (or nations) collectively, not individuals. In other places, it is ones work that is tested, not the believer (1 Cor. 3:13).
3. Scripture does say we are to work (cf. Eph. 2:10). However, that work does not constitute righteousness or, in the extreme, a type of salvation, but rather fruit.
Who teaches exclusion?
The moderate forms of exclusion are quite common among evangelicals. Typically, among this group, it is a sentiment, not a belief or system. The extreme forms are taught by the following: the late Watchman Nee, the late A. Edwin Wilson, Arlen L. Chitwood, and J.D. Faust. Each essentially maintains that the so-called carnal Christians will suffer a form of punishment or purgation for their carnality. The extreme forms exhibit heretical tendencies.
Who publishes this site?
This site is maintained privately by Mark R. Adams, a lay-theologian. He maintains a theological blog at Agabus.com, where his statement of faith can be found. KingdomExclusion.com is currently under construction.