Two additional distinguishing and erroneous doctrines of the Shepherd's Chapel are known as the Serpent Seed doctrine and the Kenite doctrine. The two are intimately related. The Serpent Seed doctrine is the teaching that in the Garden of Eden, the serpent (the devil) had sexual relations with Eve. The result was that she bore Cain. The descendants of Cain are called Kenites. Abel, however, is the result of Adam and Eve having relations.
Arnold Murray, the pastor of the Shepherd's Chapel, is the primary advocate of these doctrines which he adamantly teaches and which his followers have adopted as biblical truth. Mr. Murray states,
"When you look for the in-depth meaning of "men as trees, walking", you are able to see that Christ wants us to understand there are plantings of God and plantings of the devil. The plantings of that wicked one began in the garden of Eden with the conception of Cain and follow down through his progeny, the Kenites." (Newsletter #195, Jan 1995. See also, #202, August 1995).
The Kenites, according to Mr. Murray, must be exposed. "We must continue to teach who the Kenites are," says Mr. Murray, (Newsletter #190, August 1994). He states that the Kenites survived the flood (he denies the global flood) and are found in the lineage of Israel, not Judah, (Newsletter #179, Sept. 1993). Eventually, the Kenites permeated the nation of Israel and are the ones who shouted "Crucify Him," in reference to Jesus, (Newsletter #179, Sept. 1993).
In an attempt at biblical support, on his website at Answers to Critics, Mr. Murray states:
"In Gen. 3:15 God is speaking to the serpent, 'and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel.'"
Mr. Murray infers that when God says "thy seed" to Satan, He is referring to the Kenites, the descendants of Cain which were produced through the literal "seed" of Satan.
Mr. Murray is wrong. We do not really know exactly what form Satan was in the Garden, though I will submit to God's word and affirm it was a serpent of some sort. Now the Hebrew word used there is "nachash" and it means "serpent" or "snake." If we take the word literally as snake, then Mr. Murray would be forced to explain how a literal snake could have sexual intercourse with Eve. If Mr. Murray were to acknowledge the potential of a figurative usage of the term here, then he needs to explain why the term "serpent" would be figurative and the term "seed" would be literal. Furthermore, if the serpent were Satan in a different form, and Eve spoke to the serpent, then did Eve have sex with a snake or with a different form of the snake; that is, did the snake change into another more apropos form to consummate his deception? If so, wouldn't Eve have been suspicious of a talking snake that changes form into something else with which she then agrees to have sexual intercourse? As you can see, the issue, from Mr. Murray's perspective, is wrought with problems.
Nevertheless, his entire position on the Serpent Seed doctrine is easily refuted when we examine Gen. 4:1: "Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, 'I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.'" We can see that the Bible clearly tells us who the Father of Cain is: Adam. The Serpent Seed idea is proven wrong.
In addition, it is more natural to attribute the term "seed" in Gen. 3:15 as a reference to the spiritual decedents of Satan, not his literal ones. We can see that being a true spiritual descendant is by faith, not by biology. Consider the following verses which speak of spiritual identification.
- "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God," (Rom. 2:28-29).
- "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God," (Rom. 8:14).
- "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him," (Rom. 8:16-17).
- "That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants," (Rom. 9:8).
Clearly, being a descendant has a spiritual quality. Likewise, Satan's descendants are those who identify with him in his lies. This is why Jesus said in John 8:44 to the Pharisees,
"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies."
In addition, "seed" is also referred to as the word of God (Matt. 13:18-23; Luke 8:11; 1 Pet. 1:23) and as the spiritual life in (1 John 3:9). The whole flavor of spiritual identification with God is included in terms of being the offspring of God (Gal. 3:29; Acts 17:28) and the children of God (Rom. 8:16-17). Consider 1 John 3:9 which says, "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." Obviously, the Christian does not contain the literal seed of God in him. Seed here must refer to a spiritual element of indwelling, of ideology, and of faith. That is why the Christian does not practice sin. It is against his beliefs and confession before God and man. Therefore, God's seed abides in the Christian, but it isn't literal seed, it is a reference to spiritual identification.
Us against Them
The Serpent Seed doctrine is an unscriptural and unfortunate teaching. From it is derived an "us against them" mentality in which anyone who disagrees with Mr. Murray can easily be accused of being a Kenite. This is obvious in some of his quotes:
- "How many today are teaching from a quarterly written by a Kenite, rather than teaching from God's Word? (Newsletter #193, Nov. 1994).
- How can we sum this up? If you are doing God's will, don't worry about criticism from others. "Well, Pastor Murray they say we are a cult." Who cares what they say? God is on our side. Victory is a certainty. Does it ever seem like the enemy is winning? Anytime you get to feeling this way, turn to Psalms 9. This Psalm tells us what we should be earnestly expecting. Keep the meaning of "apokaradokia" in mind as we read this Psalm. (Newsletter #229 - November 1997).
Of course, if you study with him you are not being deceived, but if you are studying elsewhere, you're studying with a Kenite or siding with the enemy. Such are the machinations of this leader who teaches false doctrines.
Please be very wary of the Shepherd's Chapel.