Tag Archives: John Herbert

Advocates of “Hamitic curse” to speak at WOK conference

Each has spoken at the “Word of the Kingdom” conference before, so this is not exactly “news.” Arlen Chitwood, Royce Powell and Jim Brooks are again scheduled to speak at the annual conference, which is hosted by Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida (see link). Both Chitwood and Powell advocate the “Hamitic curse,” the idea that blacks are biblically cursed; Brooks hosts sermons (including Chitwood’s and Powell’s) on it. In the past, the conference has featured African speakers, and its organizer, John Herbert, has spoken against racism. He did, however, state that he was unsure about the curse.

See the following:

Kingdom seekers split over race issue
Chitwood and others respond to Wilson’s racial diatribe

Editorial note: Several have asked why I continue to report on the matter. Fact is, people within the “Word of the Kingdom” movement continue to advocate the curse. It can hardly “go away” if new voices continually speak for it.

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.

First critique of the “Word of the Kingdom”

The attached PDF file is Mark Adams’ first critique of the “Word of the Kingdom,” as taught by Arlen L. Chitwood (Lamp Broadcast) and Pastor John Herbert (Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, Jacksonville, Florida). It was published in Nov. 2007.

Title: “A Critique of the Word of the Kingdom teaching, Outlining three critical objections”

To download, right-click and select “save target as…” — Critique of “Word of the Kingdom”