Analysis of Wilbern Elias Best
by Pastor David Cox
Wilbern Elias Best, according to the biography note on their website was the pastor of Kingwood Assembly of Christ, which has apparently disbanded. http://www.kaoc.org/
This group is not very easy to pin down as to their specific history and beliefs. There are other churches using the “Assembly of Christ” “handle”, and basically they all appear to be within or a branch off of the “Church of Christ” who insist that churches should have no name. The Church of Christ particular viewpoint is sound on many doctrinal points, and their chief “aberation” would be on the place and importance of baptism, which probably the majority of the group would demand a water baptism before or as a condition of a person being saved. Having talked to Church of Christ people, I recognize the fact that within their own pastors and “theologians”, there are many who argue right strongly just the opposite. They insist that water baptism is very necessary in obedience to Christ, and it should be as soon as the person is saved as possible.
My evaluation of Best is that he does not lean towards the Church of Christ as much as towards a Reformed-Calvinistic viewpoint in his writings, but I haven’t read his writings extensively.
Best is pretty much identified in his books as being Reformed-Calvinist. His teaching on election is pretty much down the line Calvinist. As with all true Calvinists, he believes that salvation is totally on God’s side, with man’s inability (Total Depravity) preventing ANYTHING within man that would in any way affect God’s grace towards that person.
In Justification by Faith, Chapter 1. Introduction, he states…
“(9) Saving faith is not a prerequisite to election, justification before God, or regeneration.”
In the same book, Chapter 2. The Author of Saving Faith
The synergistic (cooperative) theory of regeneration is heresy. Two persons cannot cooperate unless they are equal in rank and occupy the same relative position. Therefore, God and the sinner can never work together in either the purposing, purchasing, or applying of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. How can the sinner assist God in a re-creative work? The law which governs the association of antecedents and consequents prohibits the introduction into the process of regeneration a means different in nature from the antecedent. Thus, a noncreative means cannot be associated creatively with a creative antecedent. That means a sinner cannot be associated with God in the application of salvation. God justified the elect sinner on the basis of His own faith, assurance, and confidence in the work of His Son (Rom. 8:33).
So according to Best’s conception of God, two persons who work together (a synergy) cannot work together unless their are completely equal. This statement is just false. When a poor person comes to a king to beg help, the asking of the poor is a working with the king’s wisdom, power, and resources. We should never confuse such a thing into thinking that the poor man does the work, the King does with his person. But there is no basis nor truth in demanding that two persons in a synergy be equal.
Moreover, Best understands salvation as being the faith of God in his own Son. This is clearly nowhere established in relation to a single human being. It is not the faith God in Christ that saved David, or Peter or Paul. This is ridiculous, and because the Bible consistently lays faith and repentance as actions which the unsaved sinner does, and justification, sanctification, etc are actions which God does in response to the sinner’s “saving faith” and repentance, Best and the Calvinist position cannot cope with the truth of Scripture and have to work their way around this great obstacle to their false doctrine. Note that it is to redefine faith to mean that faith is God’s action. Jesus being lifted up on the cross CAUSES faith in others, but the person responsible for that faith is each and every person possessing it, and the faith is not “God’s position” somehow in that person. This breaks the Scripture presentation of faith.
I would question their position on water baptism, which I will study as I get time to see if I can find a clear positional statement (for water baptism as necessary for salvation or as being only an act of obedience, and not necessary for salvation). If anybody has found such a point, please post a comment on this page and I will add the quote to clarify this point.