Tag Archives: Cornerstone Christian Fellowship of Los Gatos

Kingdom preacher Royce Powell taught that “darker race people” are cursed

Royce Powell, a speaker at last year’s “Word of the Kingdom” conference at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida, preached, in a 1984 sermon, that the “darker race people, the black people” should not serve in positions of leadership or intermarry with other races. His definition of “darker race people” also included Egyptians, Middle Easterners and people of the “East Babylonian” area.

Efforts to reach Powell, directly or through intermediaries, over the last year have been unsuccessful.

In a recorded sermon, hosted at Calvary Bible Church’s website,[1. The date, 1984, is embedded in the digital file; http://www.calvarybiblechurchtn.org/audio-sermons/royce-powell.html] Powell taught that “the scripture tells us that the race [Noah’s descendants] was divided into three categories,” and explained that “Ham and his descendants were destined or were biblically assigned the place of being a servant of servants unto his brethren.”

Powell’s 1984 sermon:
[audio:Powell-The_Three_Sons_of_Noah.mp3]

Powell is a prominent and revered “kingdom” preacher, who succeeded A. Edwin Wilson as pastor of a church in Chattanooga, Tennessee in the early 1980s. Wilson, deceased in 1989, was an avowed segregationist, preaching and writing about the evils of integration through several decades of his ministry. His essay, “The Sons of Noah,” outlines theological grounds for the separation of the Body of Christ along racial lines.[2. From the Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson]

In the sermon, “The Three Sons of Noah,” Powell divided the world’s races into three categories: Canaanites or the “darker race people,” Shem or the “Nation of Israel,” and Japheth (traditionally whites). He added that efforts to unite these races were the work of Satan. “The ‘Canaanite’ is cursed… to be the servant of ‘Shem’ and ‘Japheth’,” explained Powell.

His comments on race mirror Wilson’s considerably.

Citing Old Testament prophecies, Powell asserted that it was wrong for the United States to “force” modern-day Israel into political agreements with the “Canaanites,” presumably Arabs and Palestinians. (Powell’s use of outdated and outmoded racial appellations makes it difficult sometimes to identify which ethnic groups he is mentioning.) “One of the ways that Satan has tried to destroy the nation of Israel is not only through war but through devising a plan to intermingle the races,” Powell stated. “And that won’t ever work. Doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, says, does — that won’t ever work.”

He explained that when races intermingle, the order of the universe is upset. For this reason, “Canaanites” should not assume positions of leadership, for this is equally offensive to God, explained Powell. “I just say that to be biblical,” he defended.

At one point in his sermon, Powell endeavored to explain why Jews are apparently so economically savvy. “The Canaanites taught them,” he explained. The shrewdness of Jews in business, Powell added, is not a positive quality; instead, the Jews should have avoided contact with the Canaanites. This is “why the Lord Jesus in two instances… cleansed the temple… he was ridding the temple of trafficking and the trading,” Powell preached. “He won’t allow that.”

It is not known whether Powell continues to maintain these views, but “Word of the Kingdom” churches have for the last year been promoting his sermons, including “The Three Sons of Noah.” In 2010 Powell spoke at a “Word of the Kingdom” conference hosted by Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida. In reply to inquiries, a church worker there directed KingdomExclusion.com to Powell’s sermons at Calvary Bible Church’s website, saying the sermons were highly esteemed. Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Los Gatos, California, also provides a direct link to that site at its home page at CornerstoneLosGatos.com.

Radio preacher Arlen Banks is featuring Powell’s sermons on his radio show.

“I have prayed about doing this for over a year now so, I decided to start 2011 off right,” wrote Banks at his website, TheKingdomoftheHeavens.org. He began posting the sermons late in 2010. “The responce (sic) has been great.”

Though KingdomExclusion.com has been unable to reach Powell, directly or through intermediaries, an “R Powell” recently posted a review at Amazon.com defending Wilson’s controversial book:

I originally received a copy of the Select Writings of A Edwin Wilson from the Editor, Arlen Chitwood in the early 8o’s, and have referred to it many times over the years for additional insight when I taught a bible class. I recently decided to re-read the book in full and found new insights in the Word of God. So impressed with its content, I purchased two additional books as gifts for my pastor and my sister, who pastors a church in Chicago.[3. http://www.amazon.com/Selected-Writings-Edwin-Wilson/dp/B001LOHSOU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294522891&sr=8-1]

(Previously, I had posted a review criticizing Wilson’s pro-segregationist views.)

KingdomExclusion.com first mentioned Powell’s “The Three Sons of Noah” in a posting dated January 9, 2010, and began sending inquiries that same month to various leaders within the “Word of the Kingdom” movement. None of the inquiries has been returned. In that same span of time, advocates of the “Word of the Kingdom” have begun to vigorously promote Powell’s sermons. It is not known whether they agree with his racial views.

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Powell’s sermons at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida, preached in 2010, can be viewed here:

Genesis 19 (link)
Isaiah 11 (link)

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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?

CCFLG promoting A. Edwin Wilson?

Shortly after KingdomExclusion.com published “Race Hatred and the ‘Word of the Kingdom’” in December of 2009, the leadership at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship of Los Gatos, California, seems to have purchased search-engine keywords for “a edwin wilson.”

(KingdomExclusion.com also purchases keywords to promote site content.)

The purchase of keywords apparently came after the leadership of CCFLG posted “Guilt By Association,” in which they complained they were being treated unfairly because of their association with Arlen L. Chitwood, who edited and published Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson.

Wilson, who died in the late 1980s, had written that blacks were cursed by God.

The leadership at CCFLG stated that it was being falsely assumed that they “must believe everything that A. Edwin Wilson believes because we are associated with a man who is associated with him.” They did not explain why they believed this was the case.

That CCFLG purchased keywords for “a edwin wilson” suggests the church wanted to advertise its association not merely with Chitwood, but also Wilson. The following screen image was captured Dec. 18, 2009 (click on image to view):

It is possible that someone else purchased these keywords, but that is unlikely.

Cornerstone’s website links to several sites offering Wilson’s book, though some have recently pulled the text. CCFLG has stated categorically that they oppose segregation.

Cornerstone elder defends Wilson on race issue

Defending the late A. Edwin Wilson’s moral character, an elder at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship (CCFLG) in Los Gatos, California, noted that while Wilson’s writings “can be problematic at times,” his views were “acceptable in certain circles.”[pullquote]We did not express ‘repulsion,’ but rather a disagreement with his interpretation and conclusion.” — Ralph Alley[/pullquote]

Wilson had maintained that blacks were cursed.

Ralph Alley said CCFLG was not repulsed by Wilson’s beliefs, but that CCFLG disagreed with his “interpretation and conclusion.” In an unnamed article in the church’s web forum (perhaps written by Alley), the leadership at CCFLG also stated that they did not entirely disagree with an essay entitled, “Sons of Noah,” in which Wilson wrote that blacks would remain under a curse until the end of time.[1. Text and commentary here: http://kingdomexclusion.com/?p=539] CCFLG added, however, that they believed “Sons of Noah” contained “inflammatory, racist remarks.”

CCFLG did not specify which parts of the essay they agreed with.

Continue reading Cornerstone elder defends Wilson on race issue

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.

Cornerstone Christian Fellowship of Los Gatos, California

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.