from the Christian Research Journal, Summer 1988, Volume 11, Number 1, page 15. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller.
Not only does the secular media have its guns
trained on the Church, but the religious media likes to
take its little potshots as well. Recently, a religious
publication called Chapel Hill for an interview with
Bishop Paulk. They were told that his busy schedule
wouldn't allow it that day. The response went something
"Well, cults always deny interviews. You have
denied an interview with us so that obviously makes you
a cult." Great deductive reasoning! It makes about as
much sense as this premise [i.e., argument]: Eggs
break. Bones break. Therefore, eggs are obviously
The above statement by Don Paulk in the March 1988 Thy Kingdom Come was published less than a month after the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL contacted Chapel Hill Harvester Church and asked to interview Earl Paulk. The church staff would neither confirm nor deny that this statement was about us. The fact is that, as I reported in Part One of this article, we had talked with staff members on at least four occasions and they had relayed to us that Earl Paulk was not willing to talk with us at any time. The account (if about us) also distorts our response to Paulk's refusal to talk to us. What I told Tricia Weeks (Paulk's Public Relations Officer) was that we had serious questions about Paulk's orthodoxy which neither his publications nor her attempts to defend him on the phone had been able to answer (as she herself admitted).
In Part One of this critique of Kingdom Theology (KT) as represented in the writings of Earl Paulk, I discussed faulty criticisms of KT as well as invalid attempts by Paulk to shield KT from criticism, and traced its historical and theological roots. In this second and concluding article on KT, I shall systematically examine the theology of Earl Paulk, critiquing it on the basis of Scripture.
REVELATION: ONGOING OR COMPLETE?
On many of Paulk's teachings, statements can be found in his writings supporting contradictory positions. In practically every instance Paulk's seemingly orthodox statements will be found in those writings in which Paulk was trying to defend his teaching from the charge of heresy. The apparently aberrant or heretical statements are mostly found in his nonapologetic writings (although his apologetic writings contain questionable teachings as well).
Such a tension is evident in Paulk's teaching on the sufficiency of the Bible as the only source of doctrinal revelations for the church. On the one hand, Paulk has often made statements which clearly indicate that new doctrinal revelations are being issued through modern apostles and prophets. For example:
Many Christians incorrectly believe everything God would have us know has already been written. The book of John says that many things are yet to be spoken that are not written in the Bible.
Fresh revelation is necessary to guide us into all truth. Had "all truth" been given to us already, Jesus would never have said that the Holy Spirit would serve as "a guide" to us.
On the other hand, he has attempted to defend his view of prophecy with statements such as the following:
Kingdom theology is not a new theology, interpretation of Scripture nor new revelation. It is as old as the Scriptures.
Because I believe the Bible is a closed canon, I acknowledge the limitations upon spoken prophecy that such a statement implies.
It is not easy to put these statements together into a logically coherent whole. A perusal of Paulk's several books will show that overall he seeks to find some basis in the Bible for everything he teaches, while at the same time claiming that truths not recorded in the Bible are being revealed today. Thus, Paulk appears to hold to a theology of ongoing doctrinal revelations, while recognizing the need to relate his teachings to the Bible if they are to be made acceptable to evangelical and pentecostal Christians.
That Paulk's doctrine of ongoing revelation implies an unquestionable doctrinal authority outside the Bible may be seen from an analysis of his teaching regarding the "fivefold ministry."
THE PENTECOSTAL PAPACY
As we saw in Part One, one of the "truths" supposedly restored in the Latter-Rain movement was the doctrine of the "fivefold ministry." According to this doctrine, the five offices listed in Ephesians 4:11 -- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers -- are all needed in a fully functioning and maturing church, and therefore the church today should begin to recognize certain "anointed" individuals as having been called to occupy these offices, including apostles and prophets. As I have shown elsewhere, this doctrine rests on a mistaken interpretation of Ephesians 4:11-13 and misconstrues the New Testament teaching concerning apostles and prophets, church offices which passed away in the first century.
There are, it should be noted, different ideas among those who hold to this fivefold ministry as to what apostles and prophets are supposed to do. These different views range from regarding apostles and prophets as church-planters and Spirit-filled preachers to regarding them as spokesmen for God whose authority and teaching cannot be questioned. It is the latter view which is harmful to sound Christian faith, and it is, unfortunately, the view espoused by Earl Paulk. Thus, Paulk writes, "The calling of the apostle is to establish order in the Church." Paulk compares the apostles and prophets to generals in God's army: "God's people are going to begin to know who their generals are and they will recognize whom to follow .... God will develop His anointed structure in His army."
Paulk has even more to say about the authority of prophets than apostles, perhaps because he is recognized by his followers and other leaders in the movement as a prophet. Repeatedly he argues that while the prophecies spoken by congregational members are to be judged by the church's elders, the pronouncements of those holding the office of "prophet" in the fivefold ministry are not to be judged by anyone except God. Paulk claims that false prophets in the church will be dealt with by God alone, who will "kill" them either by causing their death or by causing their ministries to "die." This is Paulk's "interpretation" of Deuteronomy 13:5, where the people of Israel are commanded to put false prophets to death.
It is evident from this "prooftext" for the immunity of a prophet that Paulk feels free to depart blatantly from the plain meaning of Scripture whenever it suits his purpose. Deuteronomy 13:5 simply cannot be fairly read to mean anything other than that a false prophet was to be executed under the Mosaic law code (for the church in a pluralistic society, the corresponding action would be excommunication). Thus, the text actually says the exact opposite of what Paulk says it means (that no one should judge or take action against a false prophet except God).
If any Christian should be inclined to call into question the accuracy of Paulk's interpretation of Scripture, they would find a rebuke from him:
Another cloak of spirituality is when pastors say that every Christian needs to take his Bible and judge the truth for himself. This is not the instruction of God's Word. God gives the five-fold ministry for the "equipping of the saints" and the "edifying of the body" (Ephesians 4:12). Man has no right to private interpretation of the Word of God apart from those whom God sets in the Church as spiritual teachers and elders.
Paulk's apostles and prophets are thus a sort of pentecostal papacy, claiming the same kind of unquestioned authority as the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Such authoritarianism in the church is never healthy, as is evident from the doctrinal and practical errors of the Roman Catholic church, though at least in the case of Rome centuries of church history and tradition provide a modest check to any tendency to innovation. The Kingdom Theology apostles and prophets, however, have no such traditions to respect, and therefore can and do announce new revelations as often as they like.
Finally, it should be realized that for Paulk the issue of the fivefold ministry is extremely important. In practically every book he has written in the past six years, a warning is included that spiritual danger, possibly even hell, awaits those who reject the fivefold ministry.
What exactly does Paulk teach on the basis of these unbiblical views of revelation and authority? The rest of this study will be taken up with answering that question.
A SELF-LIMITED GOD
Bishop Paulk clearly affirms his belief in the traditional Christian view of an omnipotent, omniscient, absolutely sovereign God. He would no doubt take offense at the suggestion that his view of the nature of God is deficient. Unfortunately, there is reason to think that Paulk's teaching on God is not consistently orthodox. Orthodox Christian theology holds that God is carrying out a single plan for His creation, a plan which is based in His eternal purpose and which cannot be thwarted. Earl Paulk, on the other hand, consistently throughout his writings teaches that God is now carrying out a second plan, the first having been defeated by Adam's rebellion in the Garden of Eden.
God said, "Okay, I'm going to whip you at
your own game, Satan, I'm going to give
authority to the seed. Adam, number one,
missed the mark. Now I'm going to try it
again." ... We are now living out God's
second plan to redeem "that which was lost."
... God's "Plan B" is the strategy by which
the seed will overcome Satan's rule.
How can Paulk reconcile talk of God "trying again" and going to "Plan B" with his professed belief in God's omnipotence and omniscience? Evidently by arguing that although God is by nature omnipotent and omniscient, He voluntarily has limited Himself by establishing certain immutable laws in the world, by making statements to which He is then bound, and by giving his human creatures a measure of sovereignty in their own right.
The very source of all power, omnipotent God, decrees, "As I give you power, I limit My own power." God automatically limits His power whenever He creates one to whom He gives autonomy. By God's giving us power in certain areas of life, He limits Himself in those areas. For that reason, we determine our own destiny in many ways.
If the decision had been God's alone, surely His own Son would have known the time of His return....Of course, in His omniscience God knows, but He does not know in experience. God must wait in responsiveness to His plan.
Paulk's view of God as represented by these statements, from the standpoint of historic Christian theology, is at best erroneous and aberrant, at worst heretical. A God who loses power by creating beings with "autonomy," who knows things "in His omniscience" but not "in experience" (whatever that means), and who must improvise a "Plan B" when Plan A is defeated, is not an infinite God.
It is true that God created man with the ability to choose contrary to His revealed will, and that Adam's fall made us incapable of fulfilling the purpose for which God created us. However, in context Paulk's statements go well beyond these affirmations and say that God actually has created demigods whose sovereignty limits God's and whose rebellion frustrates God's sovereign purpose for the universe. This will become clearer as more aspects of Paulk's theology are explained.
If any reader is uncertain as to the biblical teaching concerning God's absolute sovereignty, he would do well to make a careful study of the nature of God, as our view of God will determine the rest of our beliefs for good or for ill.
STAR WARS: THE MYTHOLOGY OF DOMINION
To use the word "mythology" to describe the teaching of a professing Christian minister may sound overly harsh, but there is biblical precedent for it (2 Tim. 4:3-4). In the case of Earl Paulk, the charge that his theology is essentially myth is based, not on a caricature of a few isolated statements, but on the repeated major themes of all of his books relating to the history of the universe and man's place in it.
According to Bishop Paulk and Kingdom Theology, in the very beginning God created the universe and populated it with spirits (or angels) who lived in perfect obedience to Him. However, a third of these angels, led by Lucifer, rebelled against God's authority, becoming the demons, and seized dominion over part (probably one-third, cf. Rev. 8:12, "a third of the stars") of the physical universe. This angelic rebellion occurred in a "gap" between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. The result was that the earth, which was the "capital city" or headquarters of this demonic Evil Empire, was brought into chaos and made formless and void (Gen. 1:2).
In order to win back unchallenged dominion over the universe, God introduced into the earth Man, a race of creatures which God intended to become a resistance movement that would conquer the Devil's home planet and thus lead the way in taking back dominion over the entire universe. Man was to be a race of "little gods" exercising divine sovereignty in their area of influence, thus overwhelming the devil's forces. Unfortunately, the father of this race, Adam, was tricked by the devil into forfeiting Man's place in this plan and actually brought God's first plan to nought.
God was then forced to come up with a "Plan B" to take dominion over the earth. His solution: to introduce into this fallen race a man in whom the divine nature dwelled fully, who would become the prototype of a new race of human beings in which the original godhood of Adam was restored. This divine Man was Jesus Christ, a perfect manifestation of God the Father, and the "firstfruit" of the "incarnation" of God. The race of "little gods" who are spiritually united with Christ as members of His "body" is the church, constituting collectively with Him the complete incarnation, a corporate manifestation of God in the flesh which together will overcome the devil and restore God's dominion unchallenged on the earth. Ultimate victory over the devil, then, depends finally upon the church accepting its calling to be little gods. It further depends on the church's submitting to the fivefold ministry through whom God is seeking to mobilize the church into a unified army prepared to take dominion back from the devil.
As wild as this story may sound to some readers, this account of "salvation history" according to Paulk is taken very seriously as the theological basis of the "Kingdom message." If, then, this scenario can be shown to be unbiblical, the Kingdom Theology of Earl Paulk and his associates will have been effectively refuted.
It should be admitted that some of the elements of this mythology have been taught by some orthodox theologians. For example, the "gap" theory, according to which the condition of the earth in Genesis 1:2 was the result of a judgment upon Satan's rebellion, has been held by many highly esteemed Christian thinkers in the past century. However, placing a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is grammatically indefensible and rests on a mistaken understanding of the expression "formless and void." Furthermore, the statement in Genesis 1:31 that God pronounced everything He had made as "very good" contradicts the gap theory, according to which the earth was a spiritual battleground at the time of Adam's creation. The theory that man was placed on earth to take dominion over the devil runs afoul also of Genesis 1:26, 28, which shows that the "dominion" mandate given to Adam was to rule over the biological life on the earth, not to reclaim dominion from the devil's hosts. Indeed, the entire chapter of Genesis 1 is a sustained argument that God created the earth and all that is in it for mankind's enjoyment and use, rather than creating mankind as a pawn in His power struggle with the devil. That is, God made the earth for man, not man for the earth.
The gap theory, as erroneous as it is, is not in and of itself heretical. However, it can be put to use in a heretical system, and as such can be a part of an extremely unorthodox mythology. What makes it so in the case of Kingdom Theology is its combination with the Manifest Sons of God doctrine, according to which the church is the ongoing incarnation of God and believers are "little gods" exercising autonomous sovereignty within their spheres of dominion. As this is perhaps the most objectionable and controversial aspect of Earl Paulk's teachings, it deserves special attention.
The teaching of Earl Paulk that Christians are to regard themselves as "little gods" should not be isolated from the overall doctrine he presents in his writings. His teaching about the nature of the church and of the individual Christian involves far more than the expression "little gods." According to Paulk, the church is the "ongoing incarnation" of God, soon to be the "manifest sons of God," and as much "God in the flesh" as was Jesus Christ:
Jesus was God in the flesh. We must be as He was in the
world, and even greater in volume and influence.
The completion of the incarnation of God in the world
must be in His Church... Jesus Christ is the
firstfruit, but without the ongoing harvest, the
incarnation will never be complete.
The living Word of God, Jesus Christ, was conceived in
the womb of a virgin. The Word became flesh in the God
man, Jesus Christ (John 1:1). Likewise, the Word of God
must be made flesh in the Church in order for us to
bear witness to the Kingdom which God has called us to
We are on earth as extensions of God to finish the work
He began. We are the essence of God, His on-going
incarnation in the world.
Evidently Paulk really means to say that the church is as much "God in the flesh" as was Jesus. Certainly he does say this over and over, and never once qualifies his statements to suggest that there is anything unique about Christ as the incarnation except that He was its "firstfruit" and "standard." Thus, Paulk appears to be saying something far beyond the orthodox belief that Christ indwells the church through the Holy Spirit and continues His work on earth through the church. This conclusion is confirmed by Paulk's strong warnings, based on 1 John 4:1-3, against denying that the church is the ongoing incarnation of God in the flesh. From the context of these warnings it is evident that Paulk recognizes his doctrine as controversial among Christians, so that it cannot fairly be said that he is simply teaching the standard view that Christ indwells the church. Of course, what 1 John 4:1-3 was warning about was denying that Jesus was incarnate God, not that the church is too!
That Paulk's view of the church and of mankind is heretical is confirmed by what he says about "little gods":
Adam and Eve were placed in the world as the seed and
expression of God. Just as dogs have puppies and cats
have kittens, so God has little gods. Seed remains true
to its nature, bearing its own kind.
When God said, "Let us make man in our image," He
created us as little gods, but we have trouble
comprehending this truth. We see ourselves as "little
people" with very little power and dominion. Until we
comprehend that we are little gods and we begin to act
like little gods, we cannot manifest the Kingdom of
When I say, "Act like a god," I can hear people saying,
"There he goes with the theory of 'the manifest sons of
God.'" Forget about theories! Forget about doctrine!
Just go back to the simple Word of God! We are "little
gods," whether we admit it or not. What are "little
gods"? A god is someone who has sovereignty. Everyone
is sovereign within certain parameters.... We are
sovereign in many areas of life because we are "little
From these two citations it is evident that the problem with Paulk's teaching here is not merely calling men "little gods," though that is bad enough, but what he means by it. According to Paulk, Genesis 1 teaches that man is God's "seed," "begotten" by God, and thus is the same "kind" as God, just as elsewhere in Genesis 1 the various plants and animals are said to reproduce after their kind. This interpretation of Genesis 1 betrays a careless misreading of the text. Man is not said to be "after God's kind," but rather in His "image" and "likeness," and to have been "created," not "begotten," by God (Gen. 1:26-27). God evidently wished to communicate that we were similar to God in certain important respects, but not identical in terms of nature or essence.
Paulk also argues that as little gods, we have a certain measure of "sovereignty" over our own lives. This is consistent with his view, discussed already, that God forfeited some of His power and control over the universe in populating it with "autonomous" beings. The result of Paulk's teaching that we are "little gods" is thus a deflated view of God, as well as an inflated view of man.
As important and integral as this teaching is in Paulk's writings, in 1987 Paulk began denying that he had ever taught it! In That the World May Know, Paulk claimed that the charge that he taught a heretical view of man was based on a single quotation taken out of context:
In one of my books, Satan Unmasked, I emphasized that man was created in God's image.... In keeping with the Genesis account of creation in which each "kind produce their own kind," I wrote, "Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, God has little gods." ...Out of context, perhaps I would have questioned the theological validity of the quote. At least, I would have asked for further development of the analogy.
This statement is misleading in suggesting that Paulk made the statement about "little gods" once; as we have seen, he made such statements in two separate books, and throughout his books are statements about the nature of man and of the church which support his "little gods" doctrine. Even here he maintains his view of kinds producing their own kind, which makes man the same kind of being as God.
Throughout this same book, Paulk "further develops the analogy" by claiming to distinguish between being "in the image of God" (which is, he says, the biblical view that he has taught all along) and seeking to be "like God" or "little gods," which he says he has always rejected as the lie of Satan. "Some people have never learned the difference between the error of being a 'little god' instead of living as one created 'in His image.'" As bold as this attempt was to hide the fact that he himself had taught that we are "little gods," his statement in the November 1987 issue of his newsletter Thy Kingdom Come was bolder still: "I have never stated that believers are gods." One wonders how this statement can be regarded as anything other than a deceitful attempt to cover up heretical teaching.
THE GOSPEL OF DOMINION
We have seen that Paulk has a potentially heretical view of ongoing revelation through modern apostles and prophets whose pronouncements cannot be questioned; a deflated view of God's nature, and an inflated view of man's; and a heretical view of the church as the completion of Christ's incarnation, as a corporate body of little gods. How do these faulty views of revelation, God, man, Christ, and the church "cash out" in relation to Paulk's doctrine of salvation? Does Paulk accept the biblical gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone?
As with so many doctrinal issues, Paulk appears to affirm the orthodox position while often at the same time compromising or even denying it. Paulk claims to accept the gospel of salvation, but also argues that there is another gospel -- the gospel of the Kingdom -- which most Christians are not preaching or believing. Paulk distinguishes between the "gospel of Christ" (i.e., Christ's gospel) as the message which Christ proclaimed regarding the Kingdom, and the "gospel about Christ" as the message that Christ is our God and Savior. This distinction corresponds to another distinction, made in another book, between Salvation Churches, which preach only the gospel about Christ as Savior, and Kingdom Churches, which preach that the church is to complete the incarnation and take dominion over the earth back from the devil.
This distinction between two kinds of churches preaching two different gospels is quite unbiblical. The apostle Paul made it very clear that there was only one gospel, and anyone proclaiming another gospel was anathema or cursed by God (Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Cor. 11:4). The "gospel of the kingdom" (Matt. 24:14) which Jesus preached is the good news that through faith in Him we can be born of the Spirit and enjoy eternal life under God's undisputed rule (e.g., John 3:1-18). This is also the message preached by the apostles and disciples, who proclaimed the kingdom (Acts 8:12; 28:31) in preaching faith in Christ as Lord and Savior (Rom. 1:16-17; 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:4; etc.). Thus, the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of salvation are one and the same message. This can also be seen in Paul's statement (frequently cited in Paulk's books) that the fruit of the kingdom of God consists in "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17), fruit which Christians have been enjoying for centuries on the basis of simple faith in Christ (cf. Rom. 5:1-2; Col. 1:12-14).
Distinguishing between the gospels of the kingdom and of salvation is not in and of itself heretical. As long as this distinction does not obscure or deny that eternal life in God's kingdom is a free gift of God through faith in Christ, the distinction is simply an error in biblical interpretation, and does not come under the "anathema" of Paul's warning in Galatians 1:6-9. Since Paulk claims to adhere to the "salvation gospel" as well as the "kingdom gospel," his distinction would not be heretical if his "salvation gospel" were orthodox. Unfortunately, there is some reason to doubt that this is so.
As far as this writer has been able to determine, not once in any of his books does Earl Paulk clearly affirm salvation by grace alone or the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith. On the other hand, there are statements which seem to compromise, if not outrightly contradict, the evangelical faith. For instance, Paulk admits to teaching "that people will either tithe or go to hell." Elsewhere he insists that "works of faith" are necessary to obtain eternal life, and that "church membership" is essential if we are to "maintain our salvation and place in the body." Such statements call into serious question Paulk's claim to be evangelical.
WHAT PAULK EXPECTS OF THE CHURCH
With his inflated view of man and the church, it will come as no surprise that Paulk expects a great deal of the church. Most critiques of Paulk have made much of Paulk's teaching that the church must accomplish certain things before Christ can return, but have not based their criticisms in a thorough enough understanding of Paulk's total perspective.
According to Paulk, Jesus is "held in the heavens until" the church accomplishes its mission of bringing about "the restoration of all things," based on the usual Latter-Rain reading of Acts 3:21. This is the major premise upon which Paulk's expectations regarding the church are based. However, the point being made by Peter in Acts 3:21 is not that the church must restore all things before Christ can return, but rather that Christ will not return until it is the Father's time for Christ to bring about the restoration of all things (see also Acts 1:6-7).
It is true that certain things must take place before Christ's return, such as the worldwide preaching of the gospel (Matt. 24:14). Indeed, Paulk's interpretation of Matthew 24:14 is key to his entire theory: he argues that a "witness" is more than a "testimony," and is in fact a "demonstration." Therefore, concludes Paulk, what the church must do before the end can come is to demonstrate to the world the power of the Kingdom. However, once again the wording of the text is not being respected: all Jesus says is that the gospel of the kingdom must be "preached" for a "witness"; nor does Paulk's arbitrary distinction between "witness" and "testimony" have any relation to the realities of how these words are used either in biblical language or in common English.
What exactly does Paulk expect the church to do? Paulk insists that the church is to "make the earth God's footstool," referring to such texts as 1 Corinthians 15:25 which says that Christ "must reign until He has put all things under His feet." On the assumption that the church is the incarnation of God in the world, Paulk reasons that the church must fulfill this prophetic goal.
In order to accomplish this goal, the church must restore the spiritual authority of the fivefold ministry and thus become sufficiently united in faith (not necessarily involving doctrinal agreement) to accomplish its mission of taking dominion and to eliminate the scandal of division in the church. It must then mature sufficiently to become a standard by which God can judge the world. In doing so, it will complete the incarnation of God and be manifest as the sons of God (Rom. 8:19). (It might be appropriate at this point to mention that Romans 8:19, on which the expression "manifest sons of God" is based, teaches that this manifestation is something for which the church waits in hope, and which will occur only at the Second Coming when God redeems our bodies [see Rom. 8:20-25; cf. Phil. 3:20-21].) This will, according to Paulk, place the church in a position in which it can take dominion over the earth to the extent "that rulership will have already been established" by the church before Christ comes back. It is in anticipation of this imminent "dominion" that adherents of Kingdom Theology are pursuing political power.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of what the church is expected to do in Paulk's view is to "overcome death." On this subject, as so many others, Paulk's thoughts seem to be inconsistent. At times he speaks very plainly about the church doing what Jesus did by overcoming death:
Everything that Jesus Christ performed, His Church must perform, including challenging and overcoming death!
Death, the last enemy, must be conquered by the Bride of Christ. Indeed, we experience death with Christ by faith, but the generation that precedes the coming of Jesus Christ must follow the example of Enoch who was changed.
Elsewhere, though, Paulk seems to shy away from this position:
Death does not necessarily mean "natural" death, for most Christians will experience a physical death, [sic] I believe that God desires us to learn how to die to our wills and our flesh and to reckon ourselves dead.
What Paulk may be trying to say here is that not all Christians need to overcome physical death to "demonstrate the Kingdom"; some may do so by dying to self (note the inconsistency, though, in saying that "overcome death" means dying to self).
In a couple of places Paulk seems to imply that the church will be made immortal only upon Christ's return. This of itself is not inconsistent with holding that the last generation will achieve some form of immortality through the exercise of taking dominion over death, since the resurrected Christians from previous generations will evidently have to be made immortal by a direct act of Christ. In any case, in several places he does flatly state that the church is to pursue immortality before Christ returns. He also counsels Christians not to accept death unless they get a specific revelation from God otherwise. This is simply the logical conclusion of Paulk's acceptance of Positive Confession (see Part One).
JUDGING KINGDOM THEOLOGY
It is an unpleasant task to judge the teaching of someone within the Christian fellowship as heretical, but the church does have that responsibility, as I demonstrated in Part One. Having assessed the specific teachings of Bishop Earl Paulk, something needs to be said in the way of an overall evaluation.
There is no need to belabor the point that Kingdom Theology is unbiblical and should not be embraced by any Christian aware of its theological problems. Regardless of whether or not it is possible to be a Christian and believe these things, one ought not to try. It may be possible to jump from the top of a tall building and survive, but it is still foolish to try.
The more troublesome question is whether the people who do subscribe to this belief system are Christians. On the one hand, Earl Paulk does subscribe to the historic creeds of the church -- or so he says, at least -- and does confess to the Trinity and the deity of Christ, seemingly placing him outside of the category of a cultist. On the other hand, his teachings at best are contradictory and confused on the essentials of the faith, and at worst (and there is much to be said for regarding the situation as at its worst) he has rejected the orthodox view of God, man, and salvation.
Perhaps if Paulk were open to dialogue on the issues raised here (and there are several other critical issues not even touched upon due to space limitations) we might be able to clarify some uncertain points and give a more definitive overall evaluation of his thought. He has chosen not to go this route. Still, some things can be said. He has lied about the truth regarding what he has taught in the past. He has claimed to be a prophet and then taught his followers that a prophet is not to be judged; convenient, if not convincing. He has taught false doctrine on matters essential to faith (of that there should be no doubt) under the guise of inspired prophecy, making him a false prophet. It is therefore our judgment that Earl Paulk is in fact a false prophet whose teachings and ministry should be utterly rejected by the church. Other ministers who align themselves with him and who promote Kingdom Theology (e.g., Bill Hamon, Larry Lea, Thomas Reid) should likewise be regarded as heretics. Those Christians (and there are evidently many such) who are members of churches teaching Kingdom Theology need to be warned of its true nature and encouraged to leave, despite Paulk's warnings that they may suffer hell if they do leave. Those persons who choose to remain in fellowship with these heretics will, even if saved, have to be regarded by orthodox Christians as having broken fellowship with God's people. The orthodox gospel of reconciliation with God and His rule through Christ simply cannot be sacrificed or even compromised for Earl Paulk's pseudogospel of the Kingdom.
1 Don Paulk, "Cutting Edge," Thy Kingdom Come, March 1988, 2.
2 In doing so, every effort has been made to interpret Paulk's statements fairly and in context. Because of the brevity of this article, only a few aspects of Paulk's teachings can be examined here, and long quotations must be kept to a minimum. Those wishing to read Paulk's statements in context may obtain copies of his books from K Dimension Publishers in Atlanta, GA.
3 Earl Paulk, Satan Unmasked (Atlanta, GA: K Dimension Publishers, 1985), 220. Unless noted otherwise, all book references in this article are by Earl Paulk and published by K Dimension Publishers.
4 Thrust in the Sickle and Reap (1986), 74 (hereafter Thrust).
5 Twenty Questions on Kingdom Teaching (prepublication copy, 1988), Introduction.
6 Ibid., Q. 10.
7 "The Faulty Foundation of the Five-Fold Ministry," CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL 10 (Fall 1987):31.
8 Satan Unmasked, 123.
9 Held in the Heavens Until (1985), 184-85 (hereafter Held); cf. Ultimate Kingdom (1986), 130; That the World May Know (1987), 53 (hereafter World).
10 The Wounded Body of Christ (2nd ed., 1985), 44-48 (hereafter Wounded); cf. World, 25-26, 125, 141-42; Satan Unmasked, 125; Ultimate Kingdom, 16-17.
11 World, 10; cf. 143-44.
12 Wounded, 78; World, 70; Satan Unmasked, 137; Ultimate Kingdom, 68; Held, 189; Thrust, 55-56; To Whom Is God Betrothed (1985), 31.
13 World, 24-25; Held, 110; Ultimate Kingdom, 144.
14 See Alan W. Gomes, "God in Man's Image: Foreknowledge, Freedom, and the `Openness' of God," CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL 10 (Summer 1987):18-24.
15 Held, 41, 48, 52.
16 Ultimate Kingdom, 30.
17 Ibid., 144.
18 See this author's "The Attributes of God: An Outline Study," available from CRI.
19 See, for example, Wounded, 75, 133-35; Satan Unmasked, 21; Held, 18, 32-53, 221-23; Thrust, 49-53; World, 69, 89.
20 See n. 15.
21 E.g., Donald Grey Barnhouse, The Invisible War (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965).
22 For a fairly thorough critique of the gap theory, see Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), 195-210.
23 Wounded, 69.
24 Held, 60-61.
25 Ibid., 156.
26 Thrust, 132.
27 Wounded, 124; Held, 127; Thrust, 9; Ultimate Kingdom, 17-18, 52; World, 124.
28 Satan Unmasked, 96-97; cf. 287-88.
29 Held, 171.
30 See my discussion of the various meanings attached to calling men "gods" in "Ye Are Gods? Orthodox and Heretical Views on the Deification of Man," CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL 9 (Winter/Spring 1987):18-22.
31 World, 73.
32 Ibid., 27, 50-52, 73, 132, 134-40, 145-46.
33 Ibid., 132.
34 "Paulk Answers," Thy Kingdom Come, Nov. 1987, 3.
35 Thrust, 21-29.
36 Satan, 187-95.
37 Cf. World, xi-xii.
38 Thrust, 37.
39 Ibid., 126.
40 Ultimate Kingdom, 84.
41 Held, 93; cf. Wounded, 95; Thrust, 102-103.
42 Satan Unmasked, 24-25; Held, 20.
43 Wounded, 95; Satan, 26-27, 138, 246-47; Held, ix, 61, 234; Ultimate Kingdom, 144, 228-29.
44 Held, 198.
45 Ibid., 71; Wounded, 109-110, 122-23; To Whom Is God Betrothed, 23-27.
46 Thrust, 12, 67, 79; Ultimate Kingdom, 68; World, 55.
47 Wounded, 69; Held, 60-61, 156.
48 Satan, 114; see also Held, 42, 219; Thrust, 45; World, 6, 133; etc.
49 Wounded, 140.
50 Held, 66 (see also p. 65).
51 Ibid., 97; cf. 107, 180-81, 252-55, 265-76; Wounded, 123-24; Held, 116.
52 Satan Unmasked, 272.
53 Thrust, x; Ultimate Kingdom, 121, 123; World, 178.
54 Held, 166-67, 176.
55 Satan Unmasked, 194-95.
End of document, CRJ0022A.TXT (original CRI file name),
"The Gospel According to Paulk: A Critique of "Kingdom Theology"
release A, February 7, 1994
R. Poll, CRI
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