Tag Archives: J.D. Faust

J.D. Faust’s book is just total nonsense

J.D. “Joey” Faust’s sole claim to recognition is his supposed chronicle of the history of the accountability movement; however, The Rod, Will God Spare It? is anything but scholarly. In fact, it’s impossibly bad.

Briefly…

1. Faust assumes anyone from antiquity who writes about the millennial kingdom is also writing about exclusion, i.e., the punishment of carnal Christians in the millennium. His source for these ancient documents is a CD-ROM, which he apparently word-searched to find relevant information. Unfortunately, the mere mention of the millennial kingdom in these documents qualifies the author as a kingdom exclusionist. That Faust has made of an actual study of these documents is dubious.

2. Faust’s interpretation of allegorical texts is utterly pedestrian. He actually envisions a rod of fire protruding from Christ’s mouth in the day of judgment! (Incidentally, the image on the book cover is equally ridiculous.)

3. Faust’s criticism of the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is painfully hypocritical. He assails the church for representing purgatory as a “place,” but then spends chapters discussing where his form of exclusion will occur literally. He makes no effort to describe what Catholic purgatory actually is, and judging from his sources, it is doubtful that he knows anything of the doctrine. (I’m not endorsing the doctrine of purgatory, but I do expect its critics to at least represent the doctrine accurately.)

4. He is a King-James-onlyist.

5. He, and the few people he numbers in his church, are about the only people who believe his version of exclusion. His interpretation of scripture is so utterly unique, he contradicts nearly everyone else whom he lists in the text as allies of exclusion.

The book, which is really simply a bad outline of a book, fails completely to make the case for exclusion, rendering it the work of neurotic or else a heretic.

Does it matter?

Several people have asked why I bother: “Why do you write about exclusion?” The principal reason is that there is a dearth of critical research on the subject. When I first encountered the writings of Watchman Nee, J.D. Faust and Arlen L. Chitwood, I found few analytical sources. Apart from their own writings, there was no analysis, no critical thought, no explanation of the origins Kingdom Exclusion (KE). In short, there was little perspective.

My aim is to rectify this situation.

I do not conceal the fact that I am opposed to KE, but my research is consistent and well-documented. I’ve read extensively on the subject, interviewed and corresponded with key figures, and have engaged in a dialog with numerous others. My objections are theological.

1. The temporary exclusion of so-called carnal Christians is entirely absent in scripture. The likes of Chitwood, Nee and Faust contend that unfaithful believers will be subjected to 1,000 years of exclusion (variously defined) in the millennial kingdom. The thousand-year rule of Christ is described in Revelation 20, but no mention is made of exclusion. Nor is it found elsewhere. The fact that it is simply absent should settle the question.

2. KE fosters a salvation-by-works gospel. Some are more explicit than others (e.g. Chitwood: “The salvation of the soul … is conditional“), but all tend toward works as a condition of grace, inasmuch as grace is inadequate for redemption, that some other means is necessary.

These two factors — it’s absence in scripture and that it alters the gospel — constitute my primary objections to the teaching.

Comments on Dr. Greg Dixon’s apology for Kingdom Exclusion

“Now if I am to be considered a heretic because of what I believe God has led me to understand from His word, then so be it.” — Dr. Greg Dixon

Comments on: Dr. Greg Dixon on Kingdom Exclusion

It should be understood that a radical form of dispensationalism undergirds Kingdom Exclusion. Writes Dr. Greg Dixon, defending his belief in it, “My journey in this area really started with a search for material on the parables that would be consistent with my eschatological position of pre-mil, a literal 1,000 year reign, etc.” Despite seeking a doctrinal point of view consistent with his beliefs in a “literal 1,000 year reign,” Dixon imposes allegorical interpretations onto Revelation, particularly chapter 20.

Kingdom exclusion is entirely absent in Revelation 20, the one part of scripture that explicitly describes the millennial kingdom. No mention is made of so-called carnal Christians being excluded, nor of temporary punishment. By importing texts from other places in the Bible, namely the parables, Dixon claims to “see” exclusion in Revelation. His chief influence is J.D. Faust’s The Rod:Will God Spare It?, which Dixon argues displays impressive “scholarship and meticulous research.”

Briefly, a word on The Rod: Will God Spare It?: It’s not meticulously researched. In a chapter on Catholic purgatory, Faust never once cites a Catholic source on the subject. His representation of the doctrine is grotesquely inaccurate. (Ironically, as he goes on to describe kingdom exclusion, he creates a doctrine quite similar to Catholic purgatory!) None of his primary source citations from the earliest centuries of Christianity even mention exclusion (let alone a rod of fire), despite Faust’s assertions that they do. Dixon’s description of the text is uncritical and somewhat juvenile.

His concern that he may be deemed a heretic is extreme, but telling. If he is guilty of anything, it is simply bad theology. Writing on forgiveness, he explains, “If believers do not want to be judged for their sins at that Judgment, then God has made provision through His precious blood based on I John Chapter one and two for forgiveness and continual cleansing to maintain fellowship (sanctification). It is an ongoing, daily responsibility of the believer through the Word of God and the Spirit of God to maintain this continual cleansing.” John never mentions this form of “continual cleansing.” Apart from referencing 1 John (cf. 1 John 1:9), Dixon does not explain.

The scriptures rather speak of a one-time cleansing, a moment in time, a point, that has continuous effect in the life of a believer (cf. Romans 5:19 & 6:10). In 1 John, the apostle does not say that confession continuously cleanses sins committed intermittently in the life of a believer, but that confession (once) cleanses a person of “all unrighteousness.” Believers are exhorted throughout the scriptures to rely on the gospel message they received when they first believed, not on the institution of confession.

Dixon’s explanation of Kingdom Exclusion devolves into little more than an endorsement of Faust’s book, not an actual explanation of Bible truths. In the end, exclusion is simply imposed upon the texts of the Bible. If Dixon prefers a literal reading of Revelation, perhaps he can explain where and when the exclusion of so-called carnal Christians occurs.

Is it possible to read Revelation literally?

literal (adj.) — in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word (resource)

When Christians talk about reading Revelation literally, what do they mean? Is John the Revelator literally addressing seven contemporary churches (circa 90 A.D.), or is he addressing the church today? I have always considered that John was speaking to his contemporaries, but I also maintain that Revelation is for the church today. However, I believe it must be read figuratively in many places.

Nearly all kingdom exclusionists hold that Revelation should be interpreted literally, but what is meant by that varies.

Some insist upon a literal reading of all passages. For example, J.D. Faust maintains that a “sharp two-edged sword” actually comes out of the mouth of Jesus (cf. Rev. 1:16 and elsewhere). “After the judgment seat, the fiery sword of the Lord’s mouth will judge Christians that have lived unfaithfully and have not repented in this life.”[1. The Rod: Will God Spare It?, p. 148, emphasis Faust’s)] Should the reader really understand that a “sharp two-edged sword” actually proceeds from Christ’s mouth? Is not that reading forced?

Others indicate that Revelation should be understood literally and figuratively in some places, but figuratively in other places. For example, Arlen L. Chitwood maintains that the church of Laodicea was literally a church in a physical locality, but that we must also accept “the Laodicean Church of today” as a true, spiritual (i.e. figurative?) entity.[2. Judgment Seat of Christ, http://www.lampbroadcast.org/JSOC11.html.] In other places, no literal meaning is to be accepted. For example, Chitwood maintains that Christians will suffer the hurt of the second death, but not literally. In a reply to an e-mail inquiry, Chitwood explains, “Where Scripture uses metaphors, I’ve remained within that framework.” He adds, “Christians being cast into outer darkness, Gehenna, a furnace of fire, or the lake of fire, are simply four different ways Scripture uses to point to the same thing, using four literal things in metaphorical senses.”[3. Between May and June of 2008, I posed several questions to Chitwood by e-mail, and we maintained a brief correspondence on the subject.] Unfortunately, he does not explain what will literally happen to so-called carnal Christians at the judgment seat of Christ. Perhaps, nothing will happen.[4. In his published writings, posted at LampBroadcast.org, he makes no mention of the things he confessed in his e-mail. When I pointed out that most of the followers of his teaching believe Christians will be literally cast into the lake of fire, he discontinued our correspondence. His followers, such as John Herbert, a pastor at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, teaches, “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” (http://www.cornerstonejacksonville.com/files/messagenotes/2005-11-06_matthew13_12.pdf). A similar view is held by another Cornerstone fellowship in Los Gatos, California. Adapting notes from Herbert’s outlines, Jeanne Alley presents the following: “And if we choose not to heed this warning, the consequence are given in – Revelation 21:8 ‘But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.'” In this instance, she is not speaking of the unsaved, but “ourselves here in the local body” (http://www.cornerstonelosgatos.com/EphesiansPartEight.php — opens as a PDF).]

If anything, Revelation should be read comprehensibly, should it not?

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Mechanics: How does it all work?

About a year or so ago, I spoke with J.D. Faust about kingdom exclusion as part of my research. Faust is the author of The Rod, Will God Spare It?, a text which purports to recount the history of exclusion theology (it’s decidedly not that, but rather a presentation of his own theology). Within five minutes of the conversation, we were debating the topic. I did not make secret my reservations about KE, and posed several challenging questions. Faust, liking a good argument, posed several challenging questions of his own. Essentially the argument rested on the question of what we are to make of sin committed after ones conversion. Sins committed before conversion are obviously forgiven — a person can do nothing to absolve ones sins except rely on the grace of God. But what are we to make of sins committed after conversion?

Continue reading Mechanics: How does it all work?

Searching for the origins of Kingdom Exclusion

Despite J.D. Faust’s claim that exclusion is represented in the writings of the early church fathers, I have not been able to date KE[1. KE is an abbreviation for “Kingdom Exclusion.”] before the 20th century. (For the purposes of this discussion, it appears I must disregard the Catholic Church’s teaching on purgatory, which Faust and other Protestant exclusionists argue is a corruption of the scriptures. If we include purgatory, exclusion dates very many centuries earlier.) Several figures in the 19th century hint at it, perhaps, but I have not found explicit statements to that effect (particularly ones that can be confirmed by historians).

Continue reading Searching for the origins of Kingdom Exclusion

What is Kingdom Exclusion?

Kingdom exclusion maintains that one class of Christians will be excluded from the millennial kingdom for faithlessness. Called “nonovercomers,” these believers will be excluded from the 1,000-year-rule of Christ (cf. Rev. 20) for chastisement. Some exclusionists believe that nonovercoming Christians will be temporarily cast into the lake of fire; others that they will be excluded to a place of deep regret.

Continue reading What is Kingdom Exclusion?

Baptist purgatory

J.D. Faust writes in The Rod, Will God Spare It? that Kingdom Exclusion is not a type of “Baptist” purgatory, but he does little to explain the distinction. He does not say what purgatory is, nor does he explain how KE is not simply a reworking of the Catholic idea of purification and purgation.

Certainly, KE and purgatory are not the same, but they are not very different either. Both propose that carnal Christians will be purified/punished before attaining full salvation. Faust believes this will be realized in the millennial kingdom; the Catholic Church in purgatory. The nature of that experience and its duration varies, but beyond that, the ideas are the same.

The modern Protestant form of purgatory appears to originate with Watchman Nee (I can find no earlier proponent of the teaching). He held that carnal Christians will be purified in the lake of fire (cf. Rev. 20 — though that text does not mention carnal Christians, but unbelievers). Arlen Chitwood holds a similar view, except he sees exclusion as a form of punishment, not purification. Faust holds that exclusion is punitive, but that carnal Christians will be beaten with a celestial rod, not cast into the lake of fire.

(For an analysis of Nee’s view, visit http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/lc.html#purgatory.)

Strangely, exclusionists like Faust, Chitwood and Nee would have a stronger position if they adopted the Catholic stance, for, as it stands, they possess the idea, but no real evidence for it. KE/Purgatory is not represented in the canonical texts, but it is attested in some of the writings of the church fathers. Without those witnesses, KE rings hollow.

J.D. Faust gets it, er, doesn’t get it

Among kingdom exclusionists, Pastor Joey (J.D.) Faust is something of an authority, having published a book on the topic — more an outline — entitled, The Rod, Will God Spare It? On his church website, he expresses frustration that KE writings are often banned by religious organizations like GES.

In an on-line challenge, Faust writes:

Robert (Bob) Wilkin of Grace Evangelical Society has banned Govett, Pember, Panton, and “The Rod: Will God Spare It” from all book-tables at GES Conferences. Yet, Wilkin teaches that some true believers will end up in “outer darkness.” Wilkin believes that these various warnings (i.e. in Hebrews, Matthew 25, etc.) are only figurative in nature, and do not imply that some unfaithful believers will be excluded from the Millennium and/or suffer any physical punishments (i.e. stripes, etc.). It appears that Wilkin actually believes that outer darkness is ETERNAL for some believers!

As a casual observer, I note the following: If Wilkin believes the warnings in Hebrews and Matthew 25 are figurative, he cannot believe — as Faust implies — that the punishment is “ETERNAL.” What is understood figuratively cannot be understood, well, how should I say it? — what is understood figuratively cannot be understood literally. If the warnings are to be understood figuratively, the punishments must equally be figurative.

We’ll have to leave it to Wilkin to explain the nuances of his argument, but based on Faust’s presentation, Wilkin’s views are not outrageous.

On a final note, Faust complains that Wilkin has ingorned requests to debate the matter, and he implies that Wilkin’s silence suggests deficiency of argument. I note that I have challenged Faust (see Kingdom Exclusion: A theological challenge — and I notified him by e-mail), and he has not replied. Should I ask, “Why the silence?” No, I should not. Faust is welcome to reply or not, as is Wilkin.

In conversation about Kingdom Exclusion

I’ve begun a dialogue with another blogger about Kingdom Exclusion. You can visit Steve Husting’s blog here. The question is whether some Christians will be temporarily excluded during the millennial kingdom. I do not believe there is any such reference; Husting believes there are many. Also, a years-long thread can be found at Theoblogian.org: click here.