Tag Archives: Cornerstone Christian Fellowship

Price: Redeemed from the curse

“The curse connected with Gen. 9:25, 26b, 27b, of necessity, remains in effect today…” — Arlen L. Chitwood, frequent guest speaker at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship

“Is there any contemporary people group under the Hamitic curse? Don’t know. The Bible doesn’t tell us. The Bible’s genealogies don’t carry into the present day.” — Leadership at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Los Gatos, California

“People in the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be under a curse…” — Pastor John Herbert, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida

What saith you?

Who are the unbelievers?

Who are the unbelievers in 2 Cor. 6:14-16?

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…

Quite extraordinarily, “kingdom believers” assert that such are Christians who do not believe in the “Word of the Kingdom,” the belief that salvation is conditional and that so-called carnal Christians will be excluded in the millennial kingdom. This interpretation aligns Christians with darkness, Belial (Satan), and idols. It also provides a basis for excluding so-called “non-kingdom-believers” from their fellowships.

Attention was drawn to this teaching a few years ago after a recorded sermon was distributed among members of a mountain community in Los Gatos, California. The recording contained a 2006 sermon in which John Herbert, the pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida, stated,

Can I tell you this morning that no work other than that which is done in Boaz’s field is of any value whatsoever. Anything that is done outside of Boaz’s field is wood, hay and straw, and it will be burnt up. But we notice the progression of what we have seen here. We must determine to make this journey. We must determine to be obedient to the Word of God. We must be determined to do everything that it says, and then we start to work in Boaz’s field. Because as we begin to do this word, take it, use it, allow it to change us, see what it says and be faithfully obedient to it, we cannot help but start dying to self, we cannot not help but crucify our flesh, you can’t be obedient to this word and live in the flesh. It’s just not possible.

“And do we find there? (Ruth 2:8.) Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Will you not? You will listen. Will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here but stay close by my young women.’ We better stick around those who know something of the Kingdom and what they are talking about. Don’t go running off with any old body, just because we like the look of them. Praise the Lord.

“The scripture says we should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. Can I tell you that’s not talking about a non-Christian. It’s talking about somebody who doesn’t get this, who’s not interested in this. They’re the unbelievers. And we are not to be unequally yoked with them. We need people around us who can support us and encourage us in this.” — source

The juxtaposition of “righteousness” and “lawlessness,” “light” and “darkness,” and “Christ” and “Belial” makes it plain that Christians are not in view. (That no theologian, to my understanding, has suggested otherwise should also be instructive.) Paul states that Christians should be separate from the world; he never says Christians should separate themselves from other Christians, except in extreme circumstances (cf. 1 Cor. 5:3-5, in order to save the man’s “spirit”). He argues that believers are to be separate from the world, and not yoked to it or formally bound to it (cf. 1 John 2:15). Traditionally, Paul’s words are interpreted as an appeal against mixed marriages, i.e. union between Christians and non-Christians, which is ill-advised on so many levels.[pullquote]The scripture says we should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. Can I tell you that’s not talking about a non-Christian. It’s talking about somebody who doesn’t get this, who’s not interested in this. They’re the unbelievers.”[/pullquote]

Paul discusses marriage elsewhere. In 1 Corinthians, he explains that believers are not required to divorce their unbelieving mates (1 Cor. 7:12-16). However, he does forbid divorce: “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10-11). He makes this statement without qualification, and obviously he has Christians in mind. This prohibition does not apply in situations where one spouse has converted and the other has not. Here, Paul lays out an exception: they can divorce, but they do not have to. If they remain married, the other might be saved.

Unmarried Christians are encouraged to remain unmarried, though they may marry if they wish (1 Cor. 7:9).

That 2 Cor. 6:14-16 speaks only to the marriage issue is doubtful. Rather, Paul is addressing all spiritual unions. Accordingly, believers should have no union or partnership with unbelievers, i.e. those aligned with Satan.

Herbert’s interpretation of the text is troubling on many levels. First, there is the issue that Herbert avows conditional salvation. Cornerstone’s statement of faith states that “the salvation of the soul will be realized at the Judgment Seat of Christ and is determined by works.” Thus, “unbelievers” to Herbert’s reckoning are those who reject Paul’s admonition that “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” (Eph. 2:8-9 — interestingly, he does go one to say that Christians were created for good works).

Second, Herbert employs 2 Cor. 6:14-16 as an excuse for breaking fellowship with those who reject the so-called “Word of the Kingdom,” which in actuality is the invention of A. Edwin Wilson and Arlen L. Chitwood.

Herbert maintains that unbelievers are those “who [don’t] get this, who [are] not interested in this,” i.e. the “Word of the Kingdom.” On this basis, he encourages disunion with other believers — not on moral grounds, e.g. Paul’s exclusion of a man cohabiting with his stepmother (again, cf. 1 Cor. 5:3-5) — but for purely sectarian interests.

Justification of Herbert’s teaching is common among “kingdom believers.” The leadership at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Los Gatos, California, for example, affirms Herbert’s position in a piece called “Confusion About ‘Unbelievers'” — that the unnamed author introduces a term, confusion, is telling; no one previously had been confused about the unbelievers. The unnamed author trails off into typology, ultimately concluding that partners with Satan can indeed be Christians themselves.

It’s quite extraordinary for a group of professing Christians to label other Christians (believers) as unbelievers. It is perhaps uncharitable. However, given that to accept the “Word of the Kingdom” is to believe that blacks are cursed, that salvation is conditional and that Christians will suffer the hurt of the lake of fire, other motivations must be at work.

The desire of so-called “kingdom believers” to separate themselves from other Christians calls to mind the apostle John’s admonition that “they went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). That “kingdom believers” do not continue in fellowship with other Christians, that its leaders condemn all other Christian teachers, suggests the “Word of the Kingdom” is not a presentation of the gospel, but rather a schismatic invention of carnal men and women.

Where’s the outrage?

The Word of the Kingdom conference is scheduled for early February (see link). Unsettlingly, three of the scheduled speakers believe some African and/or Arab races are cursed, or else promote literature justifying racial segregation.

1. Arlen Chitwood edited and promoted a book endorsing racial segregation (see link). Individually, he maintains some African races are cursed (see link).

2. In the 1980s, Royce Powell preached that certain races should not intermingle (listen to the sermon here — select “The Three Sons of Noah”).

3. Jim Brooks currently hosts two websites — calvarybiblechurchtn.org and thedisciplescall.org — promoting the racial theories of Chitwood, Powell and A. Edwin Wilson (download Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson here).

As “Word of the Kingdom” champions accountability, is it wrong to hold these men accountable for their words and deeds?

Wilson: Sin of blacks found in the “perversion of the flesh”

Well into the latter years of his ministry, A. Edwin Wilson taught that blacks were cursed, a survey of recorded sermons shows. As late as 1977, while pastoring at Daytona Heights Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Wilson derided the civil rights movement as a work of Satan. He claimed God cursed blacks on account of “perversion,” not color, and he maintained equality with whites was impossible, as the curse would be valid until the beginning of the millennial age.

Wilson, who died in 1987, originated a distinct teaching called “Word of the Kingdom,” a teaching which persists today through the efforts of Arlen L. Chitwood, a published writer and conference speaker who adapted much of Wilson’s theology to his own. Wilson’s racial theories, however, are not so well known.

Out of perversion, a curse

Wilson advocated the “Hamitic curse,” a race theory drawn from interpretations of Genesis 9 (see Wikipedia). He did not invent this doctrine, but adapted it to his own theological system. In his sermons and published writings, he maintained that God planned to curse blacks from time immemorial; that the sin of Ham, recorded in Genesis 9, simply gave occasion for the pronouncement of the curse. Wilson also connected the curse to inherent qualities in blacks, which he reckoned as sexual perversion.

“Study the history of the black race and you find one of their grosser sins in the perversion of the flesh,” he said in a sermon in 1973. “I mention that because the world is filled with commentators who would curse God and Noah for pronouncing such a curse on Canaan for so slight an act as glancing on the uncovered body of his father. Far more than that was involved.”[1. Recorded sermon, April 18, 1973.]

The text he referenced is the narrative account of the drunkenness of Noah, which resulted in one of Noah’s sons shaming him. Genesis 9:22 states, “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.” The narrative continues, noting that when Noah awoke, he “knew what had happened to him.” Consequently, the patriarch cursed Ham’s son Canaan. Some theologians, however, maintain that Ham did much worse. Wilson entertained two of these theories:

Commentators both among the Jewish rabbis and the evangelical students of the Word of God are divided in their speculation, and I use speculation advisedly because we don’t know exactly. There is one or two things we do know: Noah had no more children. So that there is one camp of interpreters who have come to the conclusion that Ham, the black one of the family, because of an intense hatred, because of his black condition, emasculated his father so that there would be no more blacks born like him. There are others who believe the sin perpetrated upon the person of Noah was the sin which made Sodom and Gomorra so infamous in the sight of the Lord.

But one thing cannot but impress you: Verse 24 — Noah awoke from his wine, and knew, as soon as he sobered up, he knew, more than likely from physical pain[2. One would think.], he knew what his younger son had done to him. Why the younger son? His younger son was black. His younger son possessed characteristics rendering him capable of deeds and acts of which the other two were incapable. [3. ibid.]

That Ham was black accords with ancient race theories, discredited in modern times, that three distinct races were begotten by Noah: Caucasian (white), Mongoloid (yellow) and Negroid (black). Quite literally, from one marital union, Noah begat ethnically diverse sons. Such is drawn inferentially from Genesis 9:19 which states, “of them was the whole earth overspread.”

That Ham possessed qualities “rendering him capable of deeds and acts which the other two were incapable” is invention. Certainly, Ham had little compunction about viewing his father’s nakedness and reporting it, but that he despised his purported blackness is fictive in the extreme, born from an astonishing ignorance of history, culture and race.

No merely man’s words

Wilson believed Noah’s curse was a prophecy of God. In a 1977 sermon, he declared, “The words uttered by Noah are the words of God. Now, the sin perpetrated by Ham was not the cause of the prophecies. They were the occasion of the prophecy, but not the cause of it. Those words of this prophecy would have been uttered whether Ham sinned or not. But Ham’s sin gave occasion to it, but did not cause it.”

To intermingle the races, Wilson taught, would be to disrupt the order of the universe, for God had declared that they should be segregated. Citing several passages in the scriptures, Wilson concluded that unless the races remained separated the gospel could not be spread freely. On this count, he chastised ministers who wanted “to curse Shem [the Jews] whom God has blessed” and “to bless Canaan [the blacks] whom God has cursed.”[3. Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson.]

Wilson argued God separated the races at Babel (cf. Gen. 11) for a purpose, so that people “might seek after the Lord and come to know him and be saved.”[4. Recorded sermon, May 2, 1973.] He added that “the sons of Ham, the sons of Shem, the sons of Japeth, have all been divided into different races and languages and families,” and that God “took the sons of Ham, of whom are the servile nations and he scattered them across the southern part of the earth, from the equator on.”

Segregation and degradation

Wilson insisted that servitude was the proper condition for blacks. “An historical documented fact is evident. You can mark this down. You can do research work on it, all you want to. It is an established fact that every descendent of Ham … has been or is in a state of servitude. The curse pronounced upon Ham was a curse of servitude. Not color. A servant. He’s to be a servant. That’s given rise to an expression that’s used among theologians, they talk about servile nations. God has given certain nations of the world to be servants of other nations.”

What level of research Wilson conducted on the subject is unknown, but on several occasions he demonstrated a total want of knowledge regarding the history of slavery or black culture. Several times he stated that blacks were the most vicious slave traders, but this ignores entirely the horrors of the Middle Passage, the terror of slave-breaking, and the violation of slave women, raped en mass by white slave holders and overseers. It is true, however, that some African tribes participated in the slave trade.

His comments regarding black office holders betrays a profoundly racist sentiment:

“The spirit of the Lord says there are three things that tear up the relationships in the world today, and for four which it cannot bear. Number one, for a servant when he reigneth. That’s all I’m going to read tonight. One thing the earth cannot stand, one thing that disquiets the whole order of things is to take a servant or slave and put him in a position of power and authority. And if you want a commentary on that just make a study of the cities of the United States that have had servants for mayors. That’s all you have to do. That’s the word of God. That’s the word of God.” [5. Recorded sermon, June 5, 1977.]

Wilson boldly asserted that segregation was justified even in the church. His proof, however, was not strictly drawn from the scriptures:

“Generally speaking, around the world, what’s the hour and the day that manifests the strongest evidential segregation? It’s on Sunday, and what time? Eleven o’clock. That’s particularly true in what area of the world? … Bible Belt? What is the capitol of the Bible Belt? … Chattanooga is the capitol of the Bible Belt, you know it is. What other city in the world has Bible taughting (sic.) schools like this city? No place but the Bible Belt that have it. Now why is the eleven o’clock hour in Chattanooga the most segregated time and place in the world? There is a reason for it. Because in a majority of the pulpits you’ll still find the word of God.”[9. Recorded sermon, April 18, 1973.]

The ministry of A. Edwin Wilson in the 21st century

Wilson’s sermons and writings remain in circulation today. His sermons are hosted at two sites registered to Pastor Jim Brooks: http://calvarybiblechurchtn.org and http://thedisciplescall.org. Wilson’s sermons are also hosted at http://hopeofglory.net, which is registered to Daniel Shannon, a Baptist pastor in Alaska.

(Brooks, incidentally, is scheduled to speak at the 2010 Word of the Kingdom Conference. Also scheduled are Chitwood and the man who succeeded Wilson at Daytona Heights Baptist Church, Royce Powell. All three are connected in some way to Wilson’s strident segregationist views, which is noteworthy as two other speakers are of African descent. The conference is hosted by Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida — see link.)

Pastor John White, now deceased, maintained Wilson’s tape ministry. He lauded Wilson, explaining, “He taught things from the Word of God that I had never heard before, and therefore was challenged to check him out. I found out that what he taught about the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heavens could not be refuted without twisting the meaning of words and being inconsistent in interpretations.”[6. See http://www.gbcne.org/abouthost.html.]

Chitwood, who edited and published Wilson’s writings in 1981, wrote in the introduction to the collection, “The articles in this periodical covered a broad range of Biblical subjects and came from the pen of an individual who, through many years of prayer, study, and meditation upon the Scriptures, was pre-eminently qualified to write on these subjects.”

Continue reading Wilson: Sin of blacks found in the “perversion of the flesh”

Kingdom seekers split over race issue

The “Word of the Kingdom” is a house divided. Churches and individuals associated with this teaching are split over whether a race of people called “Hamitics”[1. “Hamitics” are considered to be descendants of Noah’s son Ham. They are understood to have settled in Africa and the Middle East. The term is not recognized by sociologists or the designated peoples themselves, yet its use persists among some dispensationalists.] are cursed. This breach is noteworthy inasmuch as kingdom seekers believe the “Word of the Kingdom” is not a teaching, but the word of God itself.

The late A. Edwin Wilson, who originated this system of theology[2. Wilson was the first to teach what is known among kingdom seekers as the “Word of the Kingdom.” This distinctive teaching is preserved in much of its substance in the teachings of like-minded persons], contended that Noah pronounced a generational curse upon the descendants of Ham, whom he identified as Africans. Arlen L. Chitwood, a leading theologian in the movement and a former disciple of Wilson, contends Hamitics are under a curse, though he is reluctant to identify who they are. His writings indicate Hamitics are of African descent.[3. In “Focus on the Middle East” Chitwood identifies 90 percent of Egyptians as Hamtic (p. 75). His writings do not indicate which other people groups fall under this designation, but historically the term was used to describe most Africans and some Middle Easterners. Absent clarification, one has only the historical use of the term to go on. Chitwood placing Hamitics in Africa is consistent with the general theory of the Hamitic race.]

“The curse connected with Gen. 9:25, 26b, 27b, of necessity, remains in effect today, will remain in effect until the Millennium, and will then pass out of existence (Zech. 14:21b),” Chitwood wrote in reply to written inquiries.

He added later, “The preceding would reflect A. Edwin Wilson’s position, my position, and the position of anyone who takes the Bible at face value and believes it. The latter would have to be the case, for the preceding is simply what the Bible states — something which no one can get around, no matter how hard that person might try.”

Churches associated with the teachings of Wilson and Chitwood are not so certain.

Continue reading Kingdom seekers split over race issue