Tag Archives: soul salvation

The problem of “soul salvation”

There is an interesting dialog going on at this thread: How Appealing is Kingdom Exclusion? Though advocates of exclusion disagree on many fundamental points, they agree on one thing certainly: the soul of a Christian is not yet saved. From this arises a critical question: why? Why is the blood of Jesus efficacious to save a person’s spirit, but not a person’s soul? Most exclusionists would simply reply, “Well, that’s just the way it is; that’s God’s plan of salvation.” All right, let’s accept that point, that the spirit of a believer is saved, but their soul is not. The question then arises, what ultimately saves a Christian’s soul? If it is not unconditional grace, what is it? And if it is not unconditional grace, how is it salvation?

Some, such as Arlen Banks, who is participating in the discussion, argue that “soul salvation” only pertains to receiving rewards in the millennial kingdom. If that is true, then it is not really salvation. In a word, it is receiving rewards. (Let’s just call it what it is.) Yet he continues, arguing that the soul of a Christian is not yet perfect, but that it will be sometime in the future. Ah, that leads to another question: what makes the soul of a believer perfect for all eternity? If it is not unconditional grace, what is it? And if it is not unconditional grace, how is it salvation?

The problem all exclusionists run into is that by dividing salvation into three separate works — spirit salvation, soul salvation, body salvation — they add to unconditional grace. They adulterate salvation. Trying to motivate Christian to good works (cf. Heb. 10:24), they alter the gospel; they present a false gospel.

The tragedy is that there is a doctrine that addresses the life after ones conversion: sanctification. And it is noteworthy that most exclusionists never address this doctrine. Arlen Chitwood, who has become quite a leader within this movement, never once, in all the dozens of his books, teaches on sanctification. The reason is plain: he has created another doctrine to take its place. He calls it “soul salvation.”

There is a reason why I place “soul salvation” in quotation marks.

FUQ: “Frequently Unanswered Question”

Update (March 31, 2011): Still no reply from anyone in the “kingdom believing” camp. One individual did email that soul salvation was indeed conditional, but that it was entirely by grace. Unfortunately, that statement is contradictory.

—————————–

I’m often criticized for “attacking” Chitwood or Wilson or Faust, etc., but few who offer this criticism are willing to answer this one, very simple question:

Regarding “soul salvation,” is the soul EVER unconditionally saved by grace through faith?

Chitwood plainly states that the soul is NEVER unconditionally saved by grace through faith, and he goes great lengths to make this point (article link). Some will argue that “soul salvation” does not apply to eternal salvation, but to gaining or losing rewards in the millennial kingdom. That sounds fine, but, if the soul is NOT PRESENTLY saved by grace, will it EVER be saved by grace — unconditionally? I believe this is a fair question, though I doubt any will offer a reply. The consequences would be too unpleasant.

If my critics say, yes, the soul is ULTIMATELY saved UNCONDITIONALLY by grace, then “soul salvation” (as taught by exclusionists) is total nonsense. If my critics say, no, well, now they admit that salvation is not by grace at all, but by works. Typically, my critics want to occupy a sort of middle ground. Such ground does not exist. Either the soul is saved UNCONDITIONALLY or CONDITIONALLY — it can’t possibly be both!

I ask my critics that, before they post a comment or send another contentious e-mail, answer the question: Is the soul EVER unconditionally saved by grace through faith?

I patiently await your replies.

Can it be that salvation is conditional?

Arlen Chitwood boldly asserts that free grace is limited to one aspect of a person’s being, ones spirit. He explains, “The salvation of the soul, unlike the salvation of the spirit, is conditional” (p. 13, Salvation of the Soul, emphasis is Chitwood’s).

I have inquired of many, especially among those who promulgate the “Word of the Kingdom,” as to where such an idea is taught in scriptures. Where does it say that salvation (in this case “soul salvation”) is conditional upon how one lives, not upon the finished work of Christ at Calvary. Thus far, no one has presented such a scripture.

If you can find one, please comment

Accountability?

I am often asked by those who support “kingdom exclusion”/”word of the kingdom” what motivation a Christian has for living a godly life. They ask, generally, “Why should Christians do what is right? Why should they care?” They suggest that unless one believes one possibly faces punishment in the millennial kingdom, one will be ineffectual in Christian living. One will become carnal.

I reply:

1. Who among us will not be punished? “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it? … So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty” (James 2:10 & 12). Should we not heed these words? It is James, after all, who is most often quoted in the teaching of “soul salvation.” Should we not, then, draw the same conclusions as James?

2. Where is this punishment found? Revelation speaks of the millennial kingdom, but makes no mention of the so-called “exclusion” of carnal Christians. Or, are we to believe, as Arlen Chitwood and others espouse, that Christians too will suffer the hurt of the second death? That idea is frankly blasphemous.

(I should note that the absence of “exclusion” is mirrored everywhere. No one, to this date, has shown anyone where “exclusion” is to be found in scripture.)

3. Is not forgiveness a greater motivation? Ask yourself, as a Christian, why do you want to be good? Why? Is it because you fear a “rod of fire” or the “hurt of the second death,” or is it because God has so loved you? Were we saved by fear, or the cross?

4. Why should we end with works? How is “soul salvation” not a complete repudiation of grace? Did not Paul warn, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). I have noted that in all of his writings, Arlen Chitwood never speaks of sanctification. His defenders say, well, “soul salvation” is sanctification? If that is true, “soul salvation” is heresy, for Paul says we are not being perfected by the flesh.

I am astonished that people actually teach that without “soul salvation” (otherwise called the “accountability” gospel) Christians would have no motivation for doing what is right. Those people miss, by a wide margin, the true gospel.

Paul, too, was confronted by such people. Look at his reply: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).

Let it be so.

Chitwood: Salvation is not entirely by grace

Though Arlen L. Chitwood teaches that salvation is by grace, he limits unconditional salvation to one aspect of a person’s being, the spirit. A believer’s other aspects — the soul and body — are saved conditionally.

“The salvation of the soul, unlike the salvation of the spirit, is conditional,” he writes in Salvation of the Soul, the Saving of a Life (p. 13, emphasis is Chitwood’s). “The salvation of the soul is dependent on the life one lives after his spirit has been saved. It is dependent on the individual allowing the Spirit of God to impart spiritual truth into and control his life through his own spirit.”

Chitwood describes redemption as having three phases: salvation of the spirit by grace, realized at the cross; salvation of the soul by works, realized through human achievement; and, salvation of the body, a consequence of soul salvation (in other words, it just happens).

Chitwood never clarifies how salvation can be entirely by grace but also by works. In truth, it is either one or the other.

Two Salvations

In some of his writings, he appears to limit “soul salvation” to judgments rendered at the dawn of the millennial kingdom. “The former [spirit salvation] has to do with eternal verities and the latter [soul salvation] with millennial verities” (ibid, p. 36). Reduced to attaining or losing rewards in the kingdom (cf. Matt. 6:19-20), his theology is innocuous (and, frankly, quite unoriginal). But, he draws such a careful distinction between “spirit salvation” and “soul salvation,” that each becomes a distinct form of salvation.

Significantly, Chitwood makes this point in Salvation by Grace Through Faith:

The “spirit” of unsaved man, associated with “darkness,” is dead. It is a part of the totally depraved man, with his “body of… death,” in which there dwells “no good thing” (Rom. 7:18, 24). But, with the movement of the Spirit — breathing life into unsaved, lifeless man — man’s spirit is made alive and, at the same time, separated from his soul (Heb. 4:12). — page 8

His use of Heb. 4:12 is disturbing because the text makes no mention of a person’s spirit and soul being divided at the moment of salvation. The text simply says that the word of God searches every aspect of a person’s being. More troubling is what follows:

“The ‘soul’ remains within the sphere of darkness” (ibid.).

In other words, the soul of a believer is not presently saved, and is not saved by grace through blood redemption. Soul salvation, to use Chitwood’s own phrasing, is “unlike” spirit salvation.

How, Then, Is One Saved?

Chitwood never explains how the soul and body ever come to be saved. If by Christ at the cross, why not presently? Why must the soul and body be saved at a future time? If by achieving rewards (i.e., positions in the millennial kingdom), how is that not salvation by works? How can unconditional salvation be conditional?

Ultimately, what is the mode of salvation for the soul and body?

Chitwood becomes so confused on the point that he actually argues that Christians are unequally yoked within themselves![1. In a previous article, I identified Gnostic tendencies in Chitwood’s writings. See http://kingdomexclusion.com/?p=73.]

Within this unredeemed body lie two opposing entities, each seeking dominion — a redeemed spirit, and an unredeemed soul. The unredeemed soul is housed in an unredeemed body, and the two are mutually compatible. But the redeemed spirit housed alongside an unredeemed soul in an unredeemed body experiences no compatibility with either of the other two at all. Compatibility is not possible, for “what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Cor. 6:14). — Salvation of the Soul, p. 8, emphasis is Chitwood’s

Note that the spirit, saved by grace through faith, is “redeemed,” but the soul, apparently not saved by grace through faith, is “unredeemed.”

What is particularly tragic about Chitwood is that he goes great lengths to teach that salvation is by grace — “All man can possibly do is simply receive, through believing on the Son, that which has already been done on his behalf” (Salvation by Grace Through Faith, X) — but he limits that form of salvation to the spirit. Unquestionably, he teaches that the soul and body are in “darkness,” “unredeemed,” and saved “conditionally.”

That, in the final assessment, is not salvation by grace.

———————

Footnotes:

Kingdom believer claims to be unsaved

Quite extraordinary things pour forth from the pen of Arlen L. Chitwood, such as the claim that he is not ultimately saved. In an almost confessional tone, he claims his soul is at war with his spirit, that darkness pervades his being. He asserts positively that his body is in partnership with Belial (or Satan). His redeemed spirit, confesses Chitwood, is in a constant struggle with his unredeemed soul.[1. Salvation of the Soul, the Saving of the Life, p. 47] By yielding of his own volition to the Holy Spirit, Chitwood says he hopes to win the salvation of his soul. Except that God has placed a division between his spirit and his soul, he would be entirely corrupt.

“The first thing which God does for man is to place light alongside the previously existing darkness — place a new nature alongside the old nature, a new man alongside the old man — with a division established between the two (cf. Heb. 4:12),” claims Chitwood.[2. ibid.. Actually, Hebrews 4:12 does not state that there is a division between the soul and spirit, but rather that there is a division between the soul and spirit (non-material aspects of a human) and joints and marrow (material aspects of a human). This misreading of scripture, however, is necessary for sustaining the teaching Chitwood calls the “Word of the Kingdom.”]

Thus, an unredeemed body houses his redeemed spirit — light and darkness coexisting in one being.

Whether or not his soul is ultimately saved, depends on his willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to control his life. By yielding to one Chitwood calls the “spiritual man,” he claims he can gain “control over his emotions, feelings, and desires,” and thus realize the salvation of his soul, and thus attain full salvation.[3. ibid., p. 13]

This same fate he consigns to all Christians: apostles and martyrs, prophets and elders, ordinary Christians and the persecuted. No man, reckons Chitwood, is entirely saved, not Paul, not James, not Peter. No Christian reading these words can claim to be fully saved, nor can any Christian claim to be saved unconditionally. Unconditional salvation applies to ones spirit only; ones body and soul are saved conditionally, and this is determined by works.[4. ibid.]

These are, indeed, extraordinary beliefs.

Fortunately, they are not found in the Bible.

————————