Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel has passed away.
Christianity Today’s article here.
The Blaze article here.
There is one statement that represents Chuck Smith to me.
“I would rather have the wrong facts and a right attitude, than right facts and a wrong attitude.” – Chuck Smith, Calvinism and Arminianism & The Word of God: A Calvary Chapel Perspective, p10.
Chuck Smith founded Calvary Chapel, which is now an international organization with over a thousand churches. Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapels believe in teaching the Bible verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter, book-by-book. They are to teach the entire counsel of God from Genesis to Revelation.
I spent 5 years in a Calvary Chapel in Texas, and I was ordained as a Pastor in June 2004. My certificate was signed by my 3 pastors and witnessed by hundreds of people.
I was unordained as a Pastor in June 2007 without a phone call, with no opportunity to present my side of the story, allowed no time to share my beliefs from the text of the Bible, and misrepresentations. I was accused of writing that I disagreed with Calvary Chapel doctrinally on my blog repeatedly, and allegedly said so to another Pastor repeatedly. Both misrepresentation bordering on lies. The third misrepresentation was that I was accused of being a Calvinist.
There were three men who signed my Certificate of Ordination here in Texas, the senior pastor and two other pastors. One of the other pastors was told I was a Calvinist (and voted), and the other pastor wasn’t even consulted. The one who voted told someone close to me that he did not agree with what happened (though the statement was a bit vague), and I haven’t ever gotten any detail. He changed his story when I talked to him.
How can men see and know that a man is called by God to serve as a shepherd, yet somehow 3 years later that decision is nullified with no true infractions? (It’s not like I was teaching against Christ in some way) Especially with the accused completely unaware of what is happening and living in another state.
“Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, ‘Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?’” (John 7:50-51)
Am I a Calvinist? No. Am I an Arminian? No. I love the Word of God, believe every Word, and I love Jesus Christ as my savior. Jesus is everything to me, and He will always be the focus of my life no matter where I end up.
Am I a shepherd called by God? I have no doubts, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has made it clear to me in many ways (I hesitate to go into detail). I know the Lord is with me, I will fulfill my purpose, and it doesn’t matter what men think. I’m not here to be pleasing to men or organizations, I am here to teach the truth without compromise and please God.
Calvary Chapels teach the Bible verse-by-verse, encourage the people in the congregation to believe the Bible completely, absorb every verse into their minds and souls, but if they embrace Calvinism then they are rejected out of leadership, ministry, and pastorship.
How does Chuck Smith play into this? This is all a direct result of Chuck Smith’s directives to purge Calvary Chapel of anyone who was a “Calvinist.” Sadly, what they believe to be “Calvinism” is actually “Hyper Calvinism.” Calvary Chapel has men like George “Read My Book” Bryson who write books about it and completely misrepresent Calvinism only to knock it down. That is called a straw man argument.
I’ve learned in 2013 George Bryson is leading a purge against Calvary Chapel pastors (again), and Ken Sutton (a Calvary Chapel pastor) finally has spoken out about it. You can read his article here (As Ken’s article appears to be scrubbed from the internet, see it below this article in the replies). Here is George’s email that sparked Sutton’s reply (linked in Phoenix Preacher’s blog entry here).
Sadly I can still see that Sutton believes in George Bryson’s falacious definition of Calvinism and its actually Hyper Calvinism. And Sutton still has the “right” attitude that Chuck Smith has by asking anyone who believes in George’s definition of Calvinism to simply leave. If they don’t leave they’ll be ejected just like Bryson wants.
Its full of hypocrisy, especially about how George Bryson should meet with these brothers. I offered to meet with him, I’d be happy to discuss my beliefs with him, and I never heard anything. My pastor didn’t even meet with me. But after all, I wasn’t some pastor with a big fancy church and hundreds of people to listen to me. I was a nothing and was treated like a nothing.
Calvary Chapels believe that if you are called of God you will have a big church and successful ministry. Oh yea, that is a real indicator. How about Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Jimmy Swaggart, Joel Osteen, Jim Baker, Peter Popoff, and Robert Tilton?
How about Jeremiah? Jeremiah was a prophet and called by God to serve and preach His word. Jeremiah was rejected by Israel. It was the false prophets during Jeremiah’s time that had big followings. Jeremiah had a successful ministry and obeyed God, yet he didn’t have a big “church” somewhere.
Watch James White’s debate with George Bryson. Its enlightening. A couple of clips here and here. Here is another clip of James discussing George Bryson’s lies about James and Calvinism.
So that brings us full circle to Chuck Smith’s statement above. How can anyone who loves the truth of God, teaches the truth, and leads people to believe the truth of the Bible prefer being wrong in doctrine and have the “right” attitude? The statement is astonishing. What we believe defines us as Bible believing Christians. It is what sets us apart from the world and all of its false religions.
Simply, the entire statement is hypocrisy. What is the right attitude? Is the right attitude rejecting your brothers and sisters you are supposed to love like Christ? Kicking them out of leadership and ministry is that the right attitude? Saying if they don’t agree with you that they can get out and go somewhere else? Is that the right attitude? How about accusing someone of something, putting them on trial, and convicting them without so much as a phone call?
The statement should be different. Perhaps… “I would prefer to have the truth and the right attitude, than have the wrong truth and the right attitude or the right truth and the wrong attitude.”
One of the biggest problems in the Church is Christians not believing the Bible. They would rather believe tradition, believe what they were taught growing up, believe motivational speaking, or believe whatever they want God to be in their own minds. The latter part is the most troubling. Are they believing in the true God of the revelation given to us, or are they believing in a god of their own making? What is the difference between that and making up another god, carving an idol, then bowing down to worship a piece of lifeless rock.
Give me the true Jesus! I don’t want the Jesus of Islam, nor the Jesus of the Mormons, nor the made up Jesus, nor any other that is not based on the truth.
Why George Bryson Doesn’t Speak For Me
By Ken Sutton
First of all let me say, that I love George. Through the years some of his writings, especially his first booklet on Calvinism, have been beneficial to my understanding of Biblical theology. I also know George’s family and love them all. When Lynn and I left Vista, the Bryson’s hosted our goodbye party at their house and I have wonderful memories from that time. So, let me say at the beginning here I am writing this in a spirit of love because I love the Brysons.
As you may know, recently George has been writing emails to the pastors in our movement which have created controversy. He alleges that he has his finger on the pulse of our pastors in regards to their Calvinistic beliefs. To be honest, I asked to be taken off his mailing list because I didn’t agree with how he wrote the letters. I don’t want to read quotes from pastors without citing the name of the person who is being quoted. I don’t want to read quotes that are taken out of context either. The letters are full of innuendo and speculation. Unfortunately, I have each email that he writes forwarded to me from men all over the world. I can’t escape them.
What I would like to address is the “red scare” that George is trying to create within Calvary Chapel regarding the influence of Reformed theology. Have you heard of McCarthyism? “McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. It also means the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques” (yes, I am quoting Wikipedia). George, in my opinion is guilty of employing the same methods that Joseph McCarthy (that is him in the picture) used in the 50’s. He constructs a straw man with each letter and then dismantles the straw man point by point. I believe there is a game of smoke and mirrors being played here by George. I would like to deal with just a few points respectfully where I disagree with how George is handling these matters.
1. Let me just say this at the outset. If you believe in double predestination or limited atonement and you are a Calvary Chapel pastor, please leave Calvary today. I don’t want to deal with other aspects of reformed theology here but the two I have mentioned are clearly enough to ask you to go join your tribe and live life in the open there. God didn’t create my child to be a log on the fires of hell and predetermine it all in advance. Why would you choose to stay in a movement like Calvary that ardently teaches against these doctrines? If that is you, we love you but you should leave.
2. My experience within our movement through these last 20 years tells me that we don’t have a “sleeper cell” (or a trojan horse) of reformed theologians hiding within our movement, ready to take it over…and I think this is where George needs some push back. George quotes one anonymous letter from a supposed pastor in Calvary Chapel as proof that there are many Calvinists within our movement. Pretty flimsy evidence. He also seems to be obsessed with any pastor that has ever tweeted a John Piper or Mark Driscoll article. Yet, what is the fruit of his crusade to sanitize our movement of any nuance of reformed persuasion? I will tell you that I know good men who are afraid that they will be unduly scrutinized due to this new climate of fear. Men are being told that they have to affirm and prove once again that they are not dabbling with reformed theology because they quoted Timothy Keller from the pulpit. Are we not allowed to quote Spurgeon now? He was a Calvinist.
3. George uses the term “Ecumenical Evangelical” to label anyone who disagrees with him that we should essentially disassociate with people that have different philosophies of ministry. I don’t think the label is a proper one. We have enjoyed having a pastor in Chuck who has had a big enough backbone to associate with the entire body of Christ. He has taken plenty of heat for it too. Pastor Chuck has been on television with Kathryn Kuhlman. He has been on TBN numerous times. He met with Martyn Lloyd Jones himself in England which he has stated was one of the highlights of his ministerial life. Men in our movement are simply following his lead. According to George’s definition though, Pastor Chuck is an ecumenical evangelical and that is the problem with these kinds of labels…be careful who you are pointing your finger at.
4. God has protected Calvary Chapel through every wind that has blown through evangelicalism these last 40 years and He will continue to do so. We have dealt with Charismania. We have dealt with the Toronto madness. We have dealt with the health and prosperity heresies. We have dealt with emergent theology. We have even dealt with hard Calvinism for 40 years! We have seen it all and the good pastors in our movement (the overwhelming majority) have refused to stick every new (and old) thing that comes along in their mouths to see what it tastes like. The Pastors in Calvary are a discerning bunch. Through the years we have had strong but gracious leadership in Chuck Smith. He has always warned us in an even keeled, non-conspiratorial manner. In my humble opinion, George’s emails don’t epitomize that legacy. The tone of these emails are not in the spirit of how Calvary Chapel has functioned for decades and it is grievous to many.
5. Lastly. I don’t know who the trojan horse leaders (or 5th column leaders) are in our movement because George won’t name them. I can only speculate. Yet, if he is talking about men such as Greg Laurie, Bob Coy and Brian Brodersen then he should name them and then endeavor to meet with them! That is what brothers do. Unless of course you have painted certain men as dangerous. That seems to be the way out of actually meeting with someone you disagree with, by casting aspersion upon their true motives. And that is why I refuse to do the same with George. I don’t exactly know why he is doing what he is doing but I consider him my brother. I want this to be written in the manner in which I think we should handle these matters. No cheap shots here.
Once again, I love George. I like the guy’s gravelly voice. I appreciate aspects of his ministry. I love his family. But I don’t like his emails one single bit. They are needlessly divisive and they don’t play fair. The pastors in our movement don’t deserve this new culture of fear that I believe George is fostering.
There is no such thing as “hyper calvinism” – just Calvinists who that know they don’t need to preach the gospel because they believe in Calvinism. ( Namely- that God is sending every person to heaven or hell capriciously)
The rest preach the gospel of Calvinism out of “obedience”.
“Hyper calvinism” is a lie.
Never heard of a “hyper Arminian” – lol
Hi Tornado, thanks for the comments.
Terms such as hyper-calvinism are used mainly to define particular subsets within a broader label to differentiate different view points. In regard to people’s views on preaching the Gospel, you even point out that there are distinct groups existing under the umbrella of Calvinism.
I am not sure why you are trying to erase the lines of distinction unless you simply want to denigrate the entire group. That is one tactic of George Bryson that I have observed. That is not right and unfair.
Jesus’ told the disciples to preach the Gospel and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15), and it was a command. All Christians should preach the Gospel and make disciples in obedience to our Lord’s command. I’m sure there are plenty of Arminians who would say they do so out of obedience as well. It is a good thing to obey the Lord.
Deuteronomy 12:28, “Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.”
I’d like for you to explain the term you used, “capricious” so I can better understand your point. Are you saying that all Calvinists believe God is sending people to heaven or hell in a unreasonable, illogical, impulsive way?
If that is what you are saying that is completely untrue. People go to eternal prison (hell, hades… whatever term you want to use) because of their sin (evil choices and actions) even though they know God’s just punishment for their sin is death (Romans 1:32). Every single human being chooses sin, death, and eternal prison (Romans 3:10-18) and it would be just for God to cast every single sinner into the Lake of Fire (Gehenna) along with all of the fallen angels (Matthew 25:41).
People go to hell because they hate God, love their sin, and reject Christ.
I am a pastor’s son, grew up in the church and have seen how the gospel and church of every denomination, can be torn apart by focusing on theses divisive issues. I truly think this grieves God who sent his Holy and Pure Son to die on the cross for our sin’s. I think we can all agree on the fact, as Christians, of any race, creed, culture, or denomination, that God is omniscient and omnipresent, and because of this neither Calvinism , nor Reformism makes total and complete sense in the light of the fact that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are omniscient and omnipresent. He, of course, knew us in the womb and before….he is God….He knows our future….He is God….He knows our past…..He is God…..and he Died on the cross for all of our past and future sins knowing who would turn to him and who wouldn’t. This does not imply that some are predestine to be chosen, and some are not. All it implies is that he is God and we are not. It seems to me that unfortunately we have come to a time in the history of the church where we are acting like the Pharisees, wanting everyone to conform to the laws we create to put God in a box. Through out the entire Scripture God does nothing but speak to us about how he is not confounded by human limitations, or interpretations of his divine being, and after the human race had completely messed up sinning and then focusing on legalism instead of giving our lives over to the divine God who created the Universe, he sent Jesus to die on a cross for our sins. To once and for all straighten us out and give us a chance to have a relationship with the Holy Creator of the Universe and seal us for eternal life, and we want to sit here and argue about whether you can loose your salvation, or whether your “chosen” or not is what it really comes down to for the lay people in your church. God is shaking his head just like he did when the Israelites continually thought they new better then He and chose their own ways over His. Jesus commanded us to teach the gospel to every nation. It is time for the church to do just that…..it really is simple….but we don’t like simple…..because that means God is in control. God loves us, He sent His holy Son to die for us (the human race), because we rejected, Him and sinned, we have a chance to ask Him for the forgiveness of our sins and through the mystery of FAITH we can be justified before God, have eternal life, and live a life full of peace that passes understanding (not free from suffering or problems) here on earth, filled by the Holy Spirit acting as his servants, and it is just that simple. Lets let God be God and lets be his servant again.
Thank you for your comments Matt. I appreciate it.
You call these issues “divisive.” In all honesty, the core of the Gospel is only divisive when sides divide over it. Calvary Chapel chose to divide and expel their brothers from leadership and pastoral ministry. Rather than loving them like Christ, they expelled them. I’m one of them. I think it grieves God as well.
Yes, God knew who would turn to Him and who would not. But the question is why did some turn to Him and others did not? Paul makes it very clear in Romans 3:10-18 that there is none righteous (doing right), none seek God, all have turned aside, and no one does good, no, not even one. All of humanity rejected God, and the only reason any of us turn to Him is His grace and the work of His Holy Spirit within those who He has elected for obedience and salvation (1 Peter 1:2). Repentance and faith are both gifts from God (Acts 11:18, 2 Corinthians 7:10, 2 Timothy 2:25, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 12:3).
With that said, anyone who wants or desires Jesus can come to Him for salvation. God does not build a wall or keep them away. They love their sin, hate God, and reject Christ all on their own.
Yes, God knows us from the womb, and He chose us to belong to Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-6). The Doctrines of Grace make perfect sense and unify scripture so that there are no contradictions. We choose God because He intervenes in our lives (John 15:16, 1 John 4:10, 19), and we choose to repent, believe, and love Him when the Holy Spirit resurrects us spiritually (Ezekiel 11:19;36:26, John 3:3-8).
“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6). This is the circumcision of the Holy Spirit so that we will love Him unto eternal life.
You wrote: “This does not imply that some are predestine to be chosen, and some are not.”
Daniel: Actually, being reborn and turning to Christ in a life long, loving relationship are indeed the evidence of who has been chosen and those who have not. “The beast of the field will honor Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I give waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My people, My chosen. This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise” (Isaiah 43:20-21). Notice that God chose and formed a people for Himself and one evidence is they will declare His praise.
You wrote: “It seems to me that unfortunately we have come to a time in the history of the church where we are acting like the Pharisees, wanting everyone to conform to the laws we create to put God in a box.”
Daniel: Believing the Word of God and what it says about God is not putting God in a box. By your definition, Calvary Chapel have become the Pharisees demanding all of their pastors/leaders believe what Chuck Smith believed about these things. Yes, God is not limited by human understanding or limitations. I agree. Yes, legalism is the tendency of men. I agree.
We can believe everything God’s Word reveals to us about Himself, have a relationship with Him, and give our lives over to God to do with as He pleases. Believing His Word is a good thing and in no way takes away from living a life walking at His side.
You wrote: “…we want to sit here and argue about whether you can loose your salvation, or whether your “chosen” or not is what it really comes down to for the lay people in your church.”
Daniel: Loving, studying, and discussing God’s Word with brothers in Christ is one of the best things I have experienced in my life. Why shouldn’t we make every effort to understand what He has revealed about Himself? He wants us to know.
You wrote: “God is shaking his head just like he did when the Israelites continually thought they new better then He and chose their own ways over His.”
Daniel: I would be careful assuming what God may be doing. I would put forward that God does very much care about truth and for His people to have a correct understanding of what He revealed to the prophets and apostles. Paul explained it clearly to Titus in regard to the elders of the Church “…holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). Sound doctrine matters to God, and I want to know and love the God revealed to us in the Bible. I don’t want a God that is acceptable to sinful men, but the true and holy God revealed in scripture who chooses and elects.
You wrote: “Jesus commanded us to teach the gospel to every nation. It is time for the church to do just that…”
Daniel: The Church is fulfilling the Great Commission. That doesn’t mean we should abandon sound doctrine and trying to understand the precious, revealed Word of God.
You wrote: “God loves us, He sent His holy Son to die for us (the human race), because we rejected, Him and sinned, we have a chance to ask Him for the forgiveness of our sins and through the mystery of FAITH we can be justified before God, have eternal life, and live a life full of peace that passes understanding (not free from suffering or problems) here on earth, filled by the Holy Spirit acting as his servants, and it is just that simple. Lets let God be God and lets be his servant again.”
I agree God loves us. I agree He sent Christ to die for everyone (the human race) who believes and trusts in Him for salvation. Whosoever believes in Him will be saved, and that includes people out of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation from the beginning of time to the end (Revelation 5:9-10). Anyone who wants and desires Jesus can and will be saved through faith in Him. Yes, those saved are justified before God, have eternal life, live life more abundantly, and are filled by the power of the Holy Spirit to be His servants.
As it is decreed by the prophet Joel (2:32), “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.”