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Reply to Rob Matlack on “Word of the Kingdom”

Note: Pastor Rob Matlack published a response to my critique on the “Word of the Kingdom.” I had not planned to respond, but as I have been asked about it by more than one person, I offer the following—

Rob Matlack is profoundly ignorant of the issues surrounding the “Word of the Kingdom,” as propagated by Arlen L. Chitwood, a noted author, and John Herbert, pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida. In his paper, A Response to “A Critique of the Word of the Kingdom Teaching,” he states that he “would reject” the idea that carnal Christians will spend 1,000 years in the lake of fire, yet that is precisely the view of Chitwood and Herbert.

Chitwood: “Revelation 2:11 is dealing with Christians, relative to overcoming or being overcome. And in the light of Rev. 20:4-6; 21:7, 8, which deals with the same subject, Rev. 2:11 can mean only one thing: Nonovercoming Christians are going to be ‘hurt of the second death,’ defined in Scripture as having ‘their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8b)’” (source).

Herbert: “Those Christians denied a position with Christ in His kingdom, because of the choices they will have made during their Christian life, will find themselves outside of the heavenly city, separated from the Light, in the lake of fire for the duration of the Millennial Kingdom” (source).

Matlack states that while he is “unclear on many points of Word of the Kingdom teaching,” he is comfortable distributing Chitwood’s work, apparently unconcerned that Chitwood propounds a doctrine he emphatically rejects. I do not understand this confidence. Further, I do not understand his writing on a subject that he is, admittedly, uninformed. In his introduction, he writes, “It is difficult to evaluate the validity of Mr. Adams’ concern because I could find no copy of the document referenced.” Yet, an exhaustive bibliography and endnotes are provided in the critique, and note: there is not one document, butseveral. He continues, “Again my purpose is not to confirm or defend any position held by any individual or organization, but to address the point of doctrine in question.” But what is the question? If he could not find the “document,” how does he know what it says or that I misrepresent its points? I believe that he either knows more than he admits, or that he has rashly undertaken to defend a thing he is ignorant of.

Throughout Matlack’s reply there is an overwhelming sense of feigned objectivity. “This response will not attempt to support or defend any individual or organization, but it will attempt to evaluate what the Bible says in these areas. It is often noted that the Jews of Berea were more fair-minded than those who drove Paul out of Thessalonica because they were willing to evaluate what Paul said by the Scriptures rather than their traditions. May we also avoid the prejudices of tradition?” Of course, Matlack cannot answer this question, for he does not apprehend the teaching in question.

His analysis of scripture and the critique is incomplete in several ways:

1. He never establishes that there is a separate work of salvation for the soul (one of three aspects of salvation in the “Word of the Kingdom” teaching).

2. He suggests that in my critique the term, save, is always understood to mean eternal salvation. That is not the case, yet he predicates much of his criticism on that belief.

3. He apologizes for several of Chitwood and Herbert’s statements, though he has not consulted either man as to their actual views. (Perhaps Matlack knows better what Chitwood and Herbert meant than those men themselves!) He writes, “The problem is that the two paragraphs of Herbert’s sermon could easily be understood, and probably should be understood…” (emphasis mine). How does he know this?

4. He dismisses out-of-hand the third point of my critique, offering no explanation other than that I’m “guilty” of doing the things I argue Chitwood and Herbert have done. Again, if he could not find the “document,” how does he know what was in view?

Without a point of reference, Matlack’s objectivity is in question. When he writes, “Again not having the tract that Adams was concerned about it is difficult to clearly evaluate his paper,” one wonders whether he is defending Chitwood and Herbert’s view of scripture (the subject of my critique) or his own. I suggest that Matlack read the numerous works cited in the bibliography before attempting an analysis of my critique.

Postscript: Matlack has not given me permission to redistribute his paper, and, in view of his professed ignorance on the subject, I am disinclined to share it. Also, please note that I have communicated these concerns directly to Matlack via e-mail.