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.
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.