I’d like to thank (redacted) for inviting me to respond to some of the comments on here. I did not even realize that my blog was being read and commented on.
Hmm.. where to start.
Victorious pointed out a number of true things in relation to Calvary Chapel and affiliation.
Basically what happened was the following.
I started to attend Calvary Chapel Houston in 1999. I was not a believer in the Doctrines of Grace at that time, nor did I consider myself an Arminian. While in undergraduate seminary I had shelved the entire issue because I thought there was a “middle” ground somewhere. I graduated in 99 before I started attending CC. I was still a work in progress.
Of course I felt called to the ministry so I got heavily involved at the church including two years of Pastoral training with my Pastor. I was there over a course of five years, and at the end of the fifth, I was ordained and sent out to start a CC in the Broken Arrow area.
My pastor there taught through Romans 8-9 sometime in my second year at the church. That sparked certain members to investigate the entire issue of Calvinism. My Pastor took a neutral stance on the subject, he said he wasn’t a Calvinist nor an Arminian. He believed there was a middle ground too, and when we got to Heaven we would understand. He didn’t want to deal with the subject to a point of coming down on one side or the other. I agreed with him.
Everyone who became a “Calvinist” because of that was removed from leadership and ended up leaving the church over the course of the next 4-5 years. I spent long, long, long hours discussing the issue with some of them and did not become a “Calvinist.” I stood with my Pastor on the subject. I even wrote articles and the like.
It was an ongoing study for me until I came to a conclusion on it years later. I was always open and honest about my beliefs, and I was in process for a long time.
I did not hold 100% to the Doctrines of Grace and did not completely understand them.
When asked if I was a Calvinist I stated honestly and truthfully “no.” At that point I had not come to a conclusion on the subject. I was still heavily leaning away from the DoG.
During my last year at CC, the Atonement of Christ is what the Lord used to open my eyes to His truth. I still did not consider myself a Calvinist or hold to the DoG completely. I was just trying to understand the atonement.
I was ordained by my Pastor and sent out. Months later I decided to begin the affiliation process to affiliate my new church with Calvary Chapel. By that time, I had come to realize that this issue was going to be the deciding factor and focused in on it with the Pastor I was working with here in Oklahoma.
I had wanted to go through the affiliation requirements before I was ordained, but I was denied access to the paper work. It wasn’t until the affiliation process that I had to nail down some things for CC and in my own heart. I was forced to take a side in my opinion.
I could not affirm the order of salvation that Chuck Smith required and decided the best thing to do was withdraw my application to affiliate with CC. I did just that.
My pastor called me not long after and stated that they would not support a church that was not affiliated with CC, so they pulled my funding.
If someone affiliating with Calvary Chapel cannot affirm 100% of Chuck Smith’s doctrinal beliefs on the Calvary Chapel Distinctives they cannot affiliate with CC. I pulled my affiliation application not because I disagreed with Calvary Chapel doctrine, I pulled it because I cannot affirm one man’s doctrine when it may be in error.
During that time I wrote the 31 Q&As that (redacted) linked too, and still to this day do not consider myself a Calvinist. What I wrote on the issue at that time is still what I believe.
If people want to label me as a Calvinist okay, but I do not consider myself a follower of John Calvin. I reject labels because they are used to stereo type what people believe. I follow Christ and His Word alone. John Calvin did not make up the Doctrines of Grace, he just delved into the text of scripture and explained them. Augustine had done so before him. I do not agree with 100% of what Augustine or John Calvin taught or did in their lives. What they taught or did does not have any impact on the text of Scripture. John Calvin didn’t write the Bible.
CC did not require a written in-depth theological declaration prior to ordination, so if I wasn’t 100% sure about certain issues it was okay. Nor did I hold to the DoG 100% at that time. It wasn’t until the affiliation process started that I realized where I clearly stood as I had to construct my theological summary on the issues.
Once Calvary Chapel and I realized we were not compatible I withdrew my application for affiliation, and I moved forward in my studies. Months later I finally decided that I did believe in the DoG through more study post that event, and I posted that on my Statement of Faith to avoid confusion on my website. Though my DoG are not what George Bryson believes when it comes to Calvinism.
I had not spoken to my Pastor at CC for a couple of years (minus a couple of emails) when out of nowhere I got the letter stating they removed my Ordination. I did not receive a phone call or anything prior to the letter.
I had found out during my time at CC that Calvary Chapel as an organization had done a purge of all Calvinistic believers out of leadership, their seminary, and pastors back in the 90s. I never realized it would happen to me too, nor did I ever think while I was attending there I would be in that position.
No one at the church told me about those things. CC did not have a defining Statement of Faith until recently. Even now they believe in a “Calvinism” that I do not believe in, so I am not a Calvinist according to their definition of one.
“I also think its clear that CC did what was expedient in light of your decision to pull your affiliation. They may have been a bit short on communication but in the end wouldn’t you agree it was the right thing to do?
I did not have a problem with CC pulling their funding after we decided not to affiliate. I understood their stance.
I don’t agree that my Ordination should have been removed. Especially without questioning me and giving me an opportunity to discuss it with the board.
The leadership of CC agreed and recognized the calling of God on my life. That is the point of ordination. I don’t think doctrine should be an issue as long as I’m not an outright heretic denying one of the fundamental truths of the faith.
The Bryson version of Calvinism, which they reject is not what I believe and I reject it to.
Overall, I’m at peace with the events that have occurred. All I want is what God wants, and I
will go where He wants me to go and do. I marvel at the path that He has had me travel, but I know it is all for a reason and His glory. Hopefully, He will help me understand as time passes.
A little more explanation on this:
“I don’t think doctrine should be an issue as long as I’m not an outright heretic denying one of the fundamental truths of the faith.”
I state this in light of my ordination being removed. At the original ordination if we did not agree doctrinally, then I could see them deciding not to ordain me. No problem there. I would not ordain someone who disagreed with my church either on these issues.
Though, post ordination, do we not have the ability to continue learning and growing in our knowledge of the faith? As long as we don’t deny the foundational truths of Christianity, I don’t think ordination should be removed (though I’m sure some situations merit it).
Maybe they could have censured me or something for embracing the DoG, and made it public that we disagreed doctrinally. I don’t know for sure what would have been best.
Its over now and what was done is done. Its all in God’s hands now.