Tag Archives: Arlen L. Chiwtood

Making the race purposely difficult

Years ago, a friend suggested I read Arlen Chitwood’s Run to Win, which I did. I was not impressed. He begins appropriately with the idea that Christians are running “a race of the faith,” borrowing language from Paul and the unknown author of Hebrews. It is an apt image: Christianity is a race, hard, but ultimately rewarding. The effectiveness of the metaphor in evangelism became apparent the year I spoke at a Bible camp in Northern California many years ago. I told stories of my experiences in track, relating those stories to my faith. Several campers visited me afterwards in the cafeteria and told me about their own experiences in sports, connecting those experiences to faith with an enthusiasm that quite overwhelmed me. They believed they were running the race. They were excited. Only then did I realize how wonderful the metaphor is.

But Chitwood wants to make the race purposely difficult, almost burdensome. The following paragraph from the introduction of Run to Win serves as an example:

The race in which Christians presently find themselves is, in the light of Heb. 11:1ff and other related Scriptures, a race of the faith (cf. II Tim. 4:7). The “saving of the soul” is in view (Heb. 10:39), which is what Peter in his first epistle referred to as “the end [goal]” of the Christian’s faith as he runs the race — “Receiving the end [goal] of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1:9). And the saving or losing of one’s soul has to do with occupying or being denied a position with Christ in His kingdom (cf. Matt. 16:24-17:5; 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27).

First, Chitwood wants the scriptures to say that the soul is saved distinctly from the spirit. (He believes man consists of three parts — spirit, soul and body — and that each part is saved separately.) He wants the scriptures to say that the spirit is saved unconditionally, but that the soul is saved conditionally (if you find it hard to believe that a Christian theologian would say such a thing, read Salvation of the Soul, page 13). Only scripture does not say that. Salvation is by grace only.

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