George Bryson’s Letter to Calvary Chapel Pastors

Before allowing you to read the letter, I would like to give my response.  Since the letter is long and poorly written, I would hate to have people stop reading before they see the response I sent to one of the “relativity young former Calvary Chapel Pastor” mentioned in the letter.

MY RESPONSE

George is a far worse writer then I previously thought. That aside, note that he never once refuted any of the so-called anti Calvary pastors and instead reduces his argument to rhetoric. His entire argument is based around his and presumably Chuck’s belief that no one has the right to question them. This article clears up many things for me regarding Calvary Chapel’s stance on things:

1. Chuck is indeed the Pope and whatever he speaks is the truth and should not be questioned

2. Calvary Chapel is indeed a denomination. If you do not agree with certain distinctives of the movement you should be removed from the denomination.

3. Calvary Chapel, though they have no distinctive against Calvinism does indeed believe that Calvinism has no place in the movement and it is grounds for termination.

4. Calvary Chapel’s creed “The Bible is our Creed” is indeed false. Otherwise they would have no problem with reading and listening to non-Calvary pastors and teachers. Calvary Chapel’s true creed is “Sheltering our pastors and followers is our creed”

5. The letter confirms that Calvary Chapel is beyond anti Calvinist as they are on the attack and find Calvinism the number one problem with Christianity. This is easily shown by looking at the attacks on you

These comments make me wonder if this now former Calvary Chapel pastor was against anything (besides other Calvary Chapel pastors that he believed somehow boxed him in). I also wonder how long he will be welcome by Mark Driscoll and the Acts 29 network, if he says these kinds of things (on the worldwide web) about Driscoll and the Acts 29 network (or the Reformed association) of churches of which he is now a member!

You had a long list of things they [Calvary] are against yet he focused on Calvinism – an open handed issue – as opposed to the prosperity theology and emergent gospels also listed by you. In addition the attack assumes (one of George’s oldest techniques) to personalize the attack by accusing you of holding to the list when your point was that Calvary is against these things.

6. The article simply proves that those talking against Calvary are correct. Bryson’s poor use of scripture against Calvinism shows that he is grossly sheltered to the reality of scripture. He also (though refuted publicly on many occasions) continues to set up a straw man against Calvinism. See George’s comical response to John 6:44 WATCH VIDEO in a debate with James White.

7. George Bryson’s open letter is, in fact, the exact same thing that he is accusing others of doing. He is, in fact, publicly criticizing these people using the internet. Now,  in his defense, he distinguishes against the internet and open internet so perhaps, in his mind there is a difference. I guess, in his mind, he believes that the number of people who see you letter/blog over the internet determines if it is sinful or not.  I suspect it is more about who you are talking against as opposed to the number who read it.  Bryson has a long tradition of doing this, simple ask James White who are attacked in this letter and has been attacked repeatedly by Mr Bryson.  Many of the attacks are simply false.

8. George Bryson is yet another parrot of Norm Geisler. Geisler has publicly stated that he believes that no one younger than him can teach him anything. Note the George uses age to determine if it is okay to question Chuck Smith.  He contrasts these young pastors with the old guys in the movement who are all behind Chuck.

9. George Bryson believes that Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel are one in the same. Only one of the accusations was against Chuck the others were against the Calvary movement. His appalling use of James 3:5 as a battering ram to keep people from questioning the leadership smells of Roman Catholicism.  Of course I can use the same argument on George.  Simply stating that he is violating his own principles by speaking ill of Mark Driscoll who has never once said anything ill of Calvary Chapel ans has in fact tried to unify with them.

Enjoy reading the letter…

HOW NOT TO AIR YOUR GRIEVANCES

REAL OR IMAGINED!

In this paper I quote extensively from widely published /circulated articles by three relatively young Calvary Chapel pastors and one relatively young former Calvary Chapel pastor. As a rule, I would be very reluctant to identify by name (even in a private email) Calvary Chapel pastors that I disagree with and am concerned about. However, these pastors chose to go public on the Internet with their concerns and complaints. They also identified themselves by name and clearly wanted everyone to know that they were Calvary Chapel pastors. Thus, I have kept their names in this paper as they did in their respective articles. They obviously wanted a large audience to know who they are and what they were/are upset about. I only knew about the matters of which they are complaining after they went public with their complaints.

As I see it, this paper is about two separate, serious and often overlapping issues. (1) From what these Calvary Chapel pastors are blogging (while apparently following an agreed upon script) it appears that they are seeking to radically change what it means to be a Calvary Chapel pastor in the early decades of the 21st century. (2) They also seem to believe that it is OK to openly and publically trash Pastor Chuck and bash the Calvary Chapel family of pastors and churches in the process. If they get what they say they want, they will get a different kind of Calvary Chapel. If they get what they say they want, it will require a dramatic and radical change (on the part of the Calvary Chapel family of churches) so that these pastors can accommodate and even promote a very Un-Calvary like agenda.

Some of what these pastors say they want to see changed is doctrinal in nature. Some of it is practical in nature. Some of what they say they want to see changed is both doctrinal and practical. I strongly suspect that these pastors want other CC pastors to believe that they are blogging to promote an improved or better Calvary Chapel association. In fact, however unwittingly, they are introducing doctrinal and practical leaven to the whole of the Calvary Chapel movement (1 Cor. 5: 6-8). Call me a dinosaur, but I cannot believe that trashing Pastor Chuck and bashing the Calvary Chapel fellowship of churches is a good thing or will accomplish anything good, especially if the trashing comes from men who call themselves Calvary Chapel pastors and identify with the Calvary Chapel movement. I also strongly suspect that what these young CC pastors consider constructive criticism would be viewed by them as destructive and divisive, if they (or their churches) were the targets of these kinds of attacks. And of course, as affiliate pastors of the greater Calvary family of pastors, what they are doing is unavoidably destructive and divisive to their local churches and ministries. If they are in the family an attack on the family is an attack on them. If we can believe what they say, they are upset with Pastor Chuck and the Calvary Chapel movement because , as they see it, Calvary Chapel churches are becoming known for what we do not believe versus what we do believe or what we are against versus what we are for.

Apparently these CC pastors cannot see that when you are for some things you are, by definition, against other things. It is simply impossible to be for the truth and not against error. How can you be for grace and not against legalism? How can you say that Jesus is the only way and not be against the view that insists that Jesus is just one of many valid ways? How can you say you are a Trinitarian and not be against Modalism? How can you not be against a doctrine which says Christ did not die for the sins of all sinners (i.e., Calvinism), if you say you believe that Christ died for all the sins of all sinners (1 Jn. 2: 2)? Those who do not stand against anything are not really standing for anything. If our detractors can get us to be silent about what we do not believe, they have found another way to silence us about what we do believe. Before discussing what it is that these CC pastors say they do not want us to be against, I would first like to use this occasion ask them a few questions. I will not hold my breath for answers? They cannot or will not answer these questions because by doing so they will betray a glaring double standard and transparent hypocrisy! I will ask the questions anyway:

How would you (i.e., the pastors attacking pastor Chuck on the Internet) feel if someone on your ministry team (say the youth pastor in your local church) went on the open Internet and said about you and your local church, what you are saying about Pastor Chuck and the Calvary Chapel family of churches as a whole?
If your assistant pastor publically criticized you and your church the way you have publically criticized Pastor Chuck and the Calvary Chapel movement, how long would he remain on your ministry team or with a job in the church of which you are the senior pastor?
If you believe that it would be wrong for someone on your ministry team to openly and publically trash you, how can you say that is Ok for you to openly and publically trash Pastor Chuck?
If you do not think that your blogging is wrong (and amounts to trashing pastor Chuck) does that mean you would be OK if someone called your assistant pastor and encouraged him to blog about you the way you are blogging about Pastor Chuck?
If your assistant pastor expressed his differences (doctrinal and otherwise) with you, the way you have openly and publically expressed your differences with Pastor Chuck, would you ask him to find a ministry with another pastor that he agreed with? Or would you just say “It is Ok because he is just ranting or blowing off steam”?

I realize that many Calvary Chapel pastors do not know what I am referring to. Thankfully, they have better and more important things to do than to pay much attention to what a few “angry young” CC pastors are blogging about on the Internet. I only became aware of these CC websites and what is on them while doing research for a Calvary Chapel What We Believe book. So please allow me the opportunity to document what these CC pastors are blogging, relative to Pastor Chuck and the Calvary Chapel family of churches, which includes you if you are a Calvary Chapel pastor:

Issue [accusation] # 1 – When the Jesus Movement became the Calvary Movement. I don’t know when it happened or how it happened, but it happened. The Jesus movement became the Calvary movement…it’s probably wise to get back to being the Jesus movement…When it was the Jesus movement, He was in charge. Now that it’s the Calvary movement, CC Costa Mesa is in charge…Who is in charge these days?’ We’ve all called Costa Mesa, Costa Mecca or the Vatican. It is said in jest, but maybe it’s not a joke. I think this also plays out in the sometimes ‘unhealthy’ revering of Pastor Chuck. Sometimes it seems that ‘What would Chuck do?’ is automatically the same as ‘What would Jesus do? … I believe that we would be better off to respect Pastor Chuck as our Pastor but not elevate him to demigod status….The last time I checked Pastor Chuck didn’t die on a cross for my sins.
Issue [accusation] #2 -A Non denomination that IS a Denomination that is NOT a Denomination. Calvary Chapel is not a denomination…In reality we are a denomination that calls itself ‘not a denomination’…being told to remove links from Reformed authors was okay, yet not denominational. I found that to be absurd. We say that by being non-denominational we are open to the Spirit, yet we have to clear what the Spirit is leading us to through the main office. Sounds … denominational to me.

Issue [accusation] #4 – A New Emphasis on Dividing the Body of Christ
Calvary Chapel…in the past 5 years or so, we have become (I believe) overly dogmatic about what we are against. Calvinism is a big one. Eschatology (not being Premill, Pretrib ) is a big one. Emergent Church stuff is a no no. Seeker sensitive is a no no. I believe that Calvary Chapel was the first emergent/seeker sensitive church of the Jesus movement…To throw out the baby with the bath water? Not smart. In some Emergent strains, they are trying to understand cultural appropriateness in this time period…CC was the folks who the establishment spoke down to and didn’t understand. Now WE ARE THE ESTABLISHMENT and we’re doing the same things. In regards to Calvinism, I believe that it’s fine for CC to be non-Calvinistic. That is our prerogative. I also believe that it is fine for Pre-Mill, Pre-Trib Rapture Eschatology to be a distinctive…We have become decidedly anti-Calvinist. I believe that we should move back to where we began. It’s just not worth it to fight over…

Issue [accusation] #5 – When Protecting the Pastor means Hurting God’s Kids. This is the most emotionally charged on the list. Calvary Chapel seems good at protecting its pastors and sometimes at the expense of the body of Christ. This is especially prevalent when the pastor is either well-known or will have someone who is well-known and influential step up to bat for him. If you have someone in your corner, you seem to make it out alive. If not, well you’re out of luck…Although what they are doing seems crazy to you, and you’ll tell others, you’ll never go on record and say they have done wrong. Paul didn’t have this character flaw…Wrong is it to call evil good and good evil…One of things that we, as CC’s, are perceived as in some circles is this. We will ‘remove the dove’ for theological reasons but not necessarily for serious character issues. So if someone becomes a Calvinist or Amill or something, there will be an intervention. But we have been having some highly publicized character issues on the internet (and unfortunately I don’t think we’ve seen the last of those). It could potentially be that there is only an intervention for our theological pet distinctives instead of for some serious (and if true, sinful) character issues…This is how we are perceived by some. And maybe something that we should look at…

Issue [accusation] #6 – When the Holy Bible replaced the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity [an accusation borrowed from John Wimber of the Vineyards]. I don’t know when this happened either, but it did. The old Calvary Chapel saying, ‘Just teach the Word and the people will come…We can’t be content with the Jesus movement of the 60s and 70s. I wasn’t even old enough to see it. Great that Greg Laurie was 20 and the church was booming but now he is starting to go bald. We need to see fresh works of the Spirit. We need to be open, bold, crazy, and unconventional as we once were…Many of us younger guys felt excited about the opportunity to have the same liberty that the patriarchs of our movement had when they were young, bold, and nobody. But I fear that we may never have that chance to see something fresh unless we go back to simply relying on the Holy Spirit and not the ‘Calvary’ style of ministry.”

The above accusations (and many more) came from the website of Calvary Chapel pastor Daniel Fusco-May 28, 2009. It is still on his website. He could have deleted them if he wanted to. He has been asked to delete them. He has chosen to not delete them. danielfusco.wordpress.com/category/calvary-chapel/page/3/). The only reason for him to keep these accusations/complaints on his website is so that people (inside and outside Calvary Chapel) will read them and be influenced by them.

On a website that is also notoriously anti-Calvary and anti-Chuck (i.e., the phoenixpreacher.net) Daniel Fusco also boasted that:

This year’s [2010] SPC bookstore was like Piper’s Desiring God conferences bookstores. [There were] tons of resources for the non-fearful readers. Michael [Newnham], you would have loved it.

(phoenixpreacher.net/?p=8165&wpmp_switcher=mobile)

Another CC pastor who is also a CCBC teacher, also on the open Internet said:

One of the primary curricula at CCBC is listening to audio tracks of Pastor Chuck Smith’s through the bible series, recorded in the 1970′s & 1980′s…I do not believe this emphasis to be helpful, for several reasons.

It breeds the kind of personality cult which Paul preaches against in 1 Corinthians.

It produces students with an incredibly limited scope of biblical understanding.

It produces teachers that tend to parrot what they’ve heard, rather than rightly dividing the word of truth.

It creates (not at all intentionally) defensiveness toward anyone who disagrees with Pastor Chuck’s position.

It creates a cultural frame of reference that is about 30-40 years outdated

Given enough time I could probably come up with a dozen or more additional reasons…

Speaking to students at the [CC] Bible College and pastors throughout our movement I find many times over that we’ve become detached from the larger work of the church…A couple of months ago I had an opportunity to meet and interact with Ed Stetzer [a neo-Calvinist] on the topic of Calvary Chapel, he observed very much the same detachment when told me, “Calvary Chapel has become insular.” His words were in no way antagonistic; rather he expressed them with a bit of sorrow. Unfortunately I believe his observation to be spot on. It is grieving when I meet pastors from outside Calvary who say to me, “What has happened to Calvary?” My answer to Ed Stetzer and many others who have expressed such concern has been, “We’ve begun to define ourselves by what we’re against on not by what we’re about.”

…In seeking to clearly articulate what a Calvary Chapel is we’ve opted to tell everyone what we are not, instead of showing people who we are. ‘We are not Calvinists,’ ‘we are not emergent,’ ‘we are not seeker sensitive,’ ‘We don’t like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, John MacArthur, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, etc…’ There was a time where defining exactly what a Calvary Chapel was, wasn’t entirely easy, but those on the outside of the movement couldn’t argue against what they were witnessing. Sinners were being saved and transformed into saints who went on to plant churches, lots of them; and many of them became the largest in the nation. Yes, on some levels that is still happening, but it is much harder to be “Calvary” in 2011 than it was in 1991, or even 2001. In defining who we aren’t I believe we’ve lost sight of what we’re truly are all about.

(Miles DeBenedictis, Senior pastor of Calvary Chapel of Escondido-CCBC teacher-Murrieta). (www.crossconnection.net)

Still another young CC pastor (on an open for all to read website) blogged:

I’m not sure when it happened but somewhere along the way the movement that I love [Calvary Chapel] began to be afraid…Fast forward 40 years … Now the very people who felt boxed in and stifled are the one’s creating their own boxes and stifling anything that doesn’t match the way ‘we’ve always done things.’ The movement that was once defined by grace and freedom in Christ is now known for its distinctives and principles of ministry. The movement that was once known for what it stood for is now defined by what it’s against. We are against Calvinists, Emergents, Seeker Sensitive, Purpose Driven, Topical Teachers, Charismatics, churches that Fund Raise… Health and Wealth, Traditional, Liturgical, Psychology, Candles, Kids in the Service, Standing During Worship, Secular Music, Rated R Movies (except the Passion), NIV Bibles, and whatever else comes along that we think is wrong…Did I miss the memo that said that to be a pastor in our movement meant that you had to be a clone of someone else? When did we settle for becoming parrots instead of critical thinkers who hear from God and not the latest newsletter?

(Ryan Couch) http://ryancouch.wordpress.com/what-are-we-afraid-of/

These comments make me wonder if this now former Calvary Chapel pastor was against anything (besides other Calvary Chapel pastors that he believed somehow boxed him in). I also wonder how long he will be welcome by Mark Driscoll and the Acts 29 network, if he says these kinds of things (on the worldwide web) about Driscoll and the Acts 29 network (or the Reformed association) of churches of which he is now a member!

Another Reformed leaning (perhaps entirely Reformed?) CC pastor blogged:

When I realized a whole body existed outside of the tribe [Calvary Chapel]I came to Christ in, the sky became the limit, as far as teachers/fathers go. The “prophets” who were allowed to infiltrate the CC movement in the late 80′s – 90′s taught me to be suspicious of all ‘outsiders’ and to live in fear of being seduced…I found myself living more like the Orwellian, ‘Thought Police’. Fortunately, God’s love is stronger than the fears straightjacketed on me by the [Calvary Chapel] specialists. That said; I enjoy reading/learning from ALL sorts of imperfect vessels. I used to be afraid that, reading/learning ‘truth’, from an “outsider” [not with Calvary Chapel], or a ‘foreign tribe’ would change me from what I was…IT DID, praise God it did! Truth should not frighten us. Truth should set us free.

Bryan Stupar (phoenixpreacher.net/? p=10489)

This particular pastor is clearly enamored with the teachings of Piper, Driscoll, Packer, Grudem, Keller etc. I think we are supposed to conclude that it was the Reformed truth in Calvinism that sets a pastor (like him) free. Free from and to what, I would like to ask? Is he now free to teach the Un-Calvary and unscriptural Calvinist doctrines of grace and thereby contradict the Calvary Chapel and scriptural doctrine of salvation when he teaches the people of the Calvary Chapel of which he is the senior pastor? Is he now free to teach what he agreed not to teach when he asked to be a Calvary Chapel pastor in fellowship with Pastor Chuck and Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa? Is he now free to trash Pastor Chuck (as he has repeatedly done on anti-Calvary websites)? Is that what he means when he says he was set free?

Not everyone “angry and young” is Reformed! Some CC pastors say they just want Calvary Chapel churches to be more Reformed friendly. They say that they just want to see Calvary Chapel open up to and welcome Calvinist/Calvary Chapel pastors. It is no secret that I oppose (as does Pastor Chuck and the vast majority of Calvary Chapel pastors) allowing Calvinists to be pastors of Calvary Chapel churches. I do not think the Calvary Chapel movement is perfect. Chuck does not think it is perfect. I know of no Calvary Chapel pastor who believes that the Calvary Chapel movement is anywhere near perfect. But is being open and receptive to what they say or suggest we should be open and receptive to an improvement.

These attacks on Calvary Chapel in general and on Pastor Chuck in particular are not addressing any real problems. Just because these pastors begin their attacks with words like “I love Pastor Chuck Smith or the Calvary Chapel movement” does not diminish the seriousness and unfairness of these attacks. Just because they follow the same script, does not make the same untrue and unfounded charges any more valid. Any way you slice it, these are cheap shots. These CC pastors have set themselves up as champions of imagined problems and are not offering solutions to real problems. In fact, these charges represent a kind of accusational disease formulated to infect an otherwise healthy body.

Do Calvary Chapel churches have problems? Of course they do. So do the churches led by these bloggers. Would that justify attacking them on the open Internet. In their defense some will say (perhaps they will say) that these comments about Chuck Smith and other Calvary Chapel pastors on public websites are not really anti-Chuck or anti-Calvary in nature even if mistaken or misguided. In response to this defense allow me to restate some of my earlier concerns:

If anyone on their ministry teams in their churches publically (on the worldwide web) came after them or other leaders of their churches in the way these CC pastors have gone after Chuck Smith or the Calvary Chapel movement, how would they view such criticism? How long do you suppose such bloggers would remain on staff in the churches they attacked this way? Let me say this in another way to these CC pastors. If someone on your staff came after you and your church the way you have come after Chuck and the Calvary Chapel movement, how long would they be on your staff before they got the left foot of fellowship?

No matter how it is rationalized, these websites and what is said on them by these Calvary Chapel pastors is leaven. Have they committed and unforgivable sin? Of course not! Have they sinned and should they repent and retract what they have said? Absolutely! Is it too late to reason with them? I truly hope not. The Lord is my witness. I do not want to see pastors removed from Calvary Chapel that are truly Calvary Chapel pastors. At the same time, unchecked this kind of unbridled abuse of the Internet is dangerous (James 3: 5). There is a time, place and biblically acceptable way to discuss positional differences and real problems. The comments on these websites have crossed a dangerous line. Intended or not, they include deeply personal attacks on someone we all claim to love, support and appreciate.

Now should Calvary Chapel pastors remain Calvary Chapel pastors if they are Calvinists? That is like asking “should Norman Geisler be the Pastor-Teacher of a Reformed Baptist Church?” Perhaps that should be a question for James White. Should your assistant pastor remain on staff with you if he disagrees with you on matters of great theological and doctrinal concern? Should non-Calvinist Calvary Chapel pastors advocate the acceptance of Calvinist pastors in Calvary Chapel? Have any of these Calvary Chapel pastors read the neo-Calvinist Acts 29 network requirements for being an Acts 29 pastor? They proudly and honestly say:

We are Reformed in our view of salvation:

We believe that because all people have sinned and separated themselves from God…We also believe that God…has chosen to elect some people for salvation.
We believe that the salvation of the elect was predestined by God in eternity past.
We believe that the salvation of the elect was accomplished by the sinless life, substitutionary atoning death, and literal physical resurrection of Jesus Christ in place of His people for their sins.
We believe that the salvation of the elect, by God’s grace alone, shows forth in the ongoing repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ that leads to good works.
We believe that God’s saving grace is ultimately irresistible and that God does soften even the hardest heart and save the worst of sinners according to His will.
In other words, the non-Reformed or non-Calvinist or non neo-Calvinist need not apply with the Acts 29 network. If it is OK for Reformed churches to insist that their pastors be Reformed why can’t non-Reformed churches and church movements like Calvary Chapel insist that Calvary Chapel pastors reject the Un-Calvary and unscriptural doctrines of Calvinism? Mark Driscoll of the Acts 29 Network not only speaks for all other Acts 29 pastors concerning what they believe (or are supposed to believe) but what they do not believe (or are not supposed to believe) as well. Mark Driscoll asks:

What do Acts 29 churches not believe?

He then answers:

Because Acts 29 is often associated with other movements we frequently get questions about emerging theological controversies. To help clarify our beliefs we believe it may also be helpful to declare what we do not believe…we…distinguish ourselves so that pastors considering joining our network are aware of who we are, as well as who we are not.

We are not liberals
We are not fundamentalists
We are not isolationists
We are not hyper-Calvinists
We are not eschatological Theonomists or Classic Dispensationalists
We are not egalitarians
We are not Open Theists
We are not religious relativists
We are not nationalists
We are not moralists
We are not relativists
We are not Universalists
We are not naturalists
We are not rationalists
We are not evangelical feminists
We are not polemicists who believe that it is our task to combat every false teaching
Clearly a lot of what they are not we are not. A lot of what they do not believe we do not believe. If, however, it is Ok for Mark Driscoll, John Piper, John MacArthur, Francis Chan etc. to not be and not believe some things, what about Pastor Chuck, Greg Laurie, Bob Coy, Joe Foesch, Skip Heitzig, Raul Reis, Damien Kyle, Sandy Adams, David Guzik etc.? Is it only the Calvinists that can stand against the things that they believe are wrong? To the younger or newer Calvary Chapel pastors; it is OK to not believe some things and be serious, clear and consistent about what you do not believe. In fact it is necessary. It is just another way of helping folks understand what you do believe and what you believe they should believe. And if they are not in the pulpit to influence others about what they/we believe and do not believe, they should not be in a Calvary pulpit.

Just consider the words of Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, John (etc.) if you need examples of those who strongly expressed what they did not believe and stand for (see the book of Galatians and Romans and most of the New Testament). Much of what we know about in Scripture as revealed truth we learn in the context of a rejection, repudiation, and refutation of error. To fight the battle for truth (which all devout pastors must be willing to fight), without a willingness to stand against error, is to fight that battle with one hand tied behind our backs. It is a sure way to get pummeled by those who oppose the truth. Consider the difference between:

THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINES OF GRACE

VS

THE REFORMED DOCTRINES OF GRACE

To be absolutely clear, allow me to compare and contrast the differences between the Biblical doctrines of grace and the Reformed doctrines. According to Pastor Chuck Smith, Skip Heitzig, Bob Coy, Greg Laurie, Damien Kyle, Sandy Adams, David Guzik, Raul Reis, Joe Focht, Wayne Taylor and most CC senior pastors (as well as all other mainstream non-Reformed Orthodox Evangelicals):

1. Saving faith in Christ always and immediately results in regeneration and any and all lost sinners can believe in Christ and be born again (Jn. 1: 10-13, 20: 30-31).

2. God desires all men to be saved and has determined that all can and will be saved on condition they believe in Jesus Christ (Jn. 3: 15-18, 1 Tim. 2: 3-4, Acts 16: 27-31).

3. Christ died savingly, redemptively, or propitiously for all the sins of all sinners (1 Jn. 2:2, 2 Cor. 5: 14-15).

4. God calls all lost sinners to a saving faith in Jesus Christ through a Gospel proclamation and by believing the Gospel all lost sinners can and will be saved (Rom. 1: 16, 1 Cor. 15: 1-3).

5. All those who believe in Jesus Christ and are thus saved (regenerated and justified) are called to live a life to please, honor, and glorify the Lord and that such a life (although possible for and expected of the believer) is not automatic or inevitable for the believer (Rom. 12: 1-2, Eph. 4: 1-3, 2 Pet. 1: 1-10).

According to Mark Driscoll, J.I. Packer, Tim Keller, Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, John MacArthur Jr., R.C. Sproul Sr., Alistair Begg, Francis Chan, David Platt (and all other mainstream Calvinists):

1. Regeneration precedes and produces saving faith in Christ. Only those unconditionally elected for salvation can and will be born again. All of the elect will be regenerated.

2. God unconditionally elected to save some and not all lost sinners. Only the elect will (or even can) be saved. All of the elect will be saved. None of the non-elect can be saved.

3. Christ did not die for all the sins of all sinners and in fact He did not die for any of the sins of many sinners. For the elect and only the elect Christ died for their sins. That is, Christ only died savingly, redemptively or propitiously for the elect.

4. Only the elect are inwardly, effectively, efficaciously, or irresistibly called to saving faith in Christ. To the non-elect, a Gospel proclamation is necessarily “waters on a ducks back” or totally ineffective.

All of the elect will persevere in faith and righteousness unto the end, and no one can be absolutely certain they are one of the elect until they have persevered in faith and holiness to the end. And only after the final judgment will it be possible to know if the faith and righteousness someone is preserving in, is in fact a true faith and righteousness.

Without a clear, consistent and strong stand on what we believe is the truth and what we believe is not the truth, we are truly at risk of losing a younger generation to the old and cold and so-called Reformed doctrines of grace championed by Calvin Himself. Opening Calvary Chapel to Calvinist pastors will be the sterilization of our movement. Speaking for all those that have embraced the fatalism of Calvinism, Calvin said:

By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which He determined with Himself whatever He wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of those ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death.[i]

Calvin also reasoned:

Since the arrangement of all things is in the hand of God, since to him belongs the disposal of life and death, he arranges all things by his sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction… I, for my part, am willing to admit that mere prescience lays no necessity on the creatures… the dispute [however] is superfluous since life and death are acts of the divine will rather than of prescience. If God merely foresaw human events, and did not also arrange and dispose of them at his pleasure, there might be room for agitating the question, how far his foreknowledge amounts to necessity; but since he foresees the things which are to happen, simply because he has decreed that they are so to happen, it is vain to debate about prescience, while it is clear that all events take place by his sovereign appointment.[ii]

Calvin also insisted that:

There is no random power, or agency, or motion in the creatures, which are so governed by the secret counsel of God, that nothing happens but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed…the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.[iii]

This really what we want to see the precious people of our churches believe? Neo-Calvinism may seem a little more compatible to us than the older Calvinism but let there be no mistake about this; neo-Calvinism is the same Calvinism all dressed up in new clothes to make it seem more palatable for the undiscerning. It is still the same “doomed from the womb to certain death” doctrine of Calvin. It may be sugar coated but it is sugar coated poison. Nothing I have said suggests that we cannot agree with Calvinists on many important issues. Nothing suggests that we need to be on a crusade to destroy the Reformed faith of Calvinists. Our disagreement is positional and not personal. But as they know and we should know, a Calvinist/Calvary Chapel pastor represents a Trojan horse to the Calvary Chapel movement. Is it too late for Calvary Chapel? Is there anything we can do to keep Calvinists from infiltrating pastoral and teaching positions inside Calvary Chapel? There is and it would be easy to implement.

If you are not afraid to do so, you could and perhaps should ask your youth pastors, assistant pastors, elders and anyone who teaches the Bible in you church to agree with us on what we believe the Bible teaches about who can be saved and why. Is that really asking so much? This is what Calvinists like John Piper, John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll and Alistair Begg etc. do in their churches and ministries. They will tell you that it works for them. If you are a leader or a Bible teacher and you do not agree with them on the most foundational and fundamental doctrines (such as who can be saved and why) they politely say (as does Pastor Chuck) “Don’t go away mad, just go away”. For most of the Calvary Chapel pastors receiving this email, I think you will agree that:

Calvinism is doctrinal leaven that will leaven the whole Calvary lump if we do not keep it from pastoral and leadership-teaching positions in Calvary Chapel churches.
Trash and Bash websites represent an equally great (perhaps even greater) threat to the spiritual health and well-being of the Calvary Chapel family of churches.
How harmful would it be (a) if your ministry team turned on you the way these CC pastors have turned on Chuck or (b) if they openly challenged your teaching the way they have challenged Chuck’s teaching?
I do not think we need to be on a crusade to persuade all Calvinists that they are wrong and we are right. There is a time, place and godly way to discuss differences. Trash and Bash websites is not the time, place or godly.
Just because we do not need to attack everything we do not believe does not mean we should not protect and promote those really important truths we do believe.
[i] John Calvin, Institutes Of The Christian Religion, iii, xxi, sec. 5, 206

[ii] Ibid., iii, xxiii, 231

[iii] Ibid., i, xvi, 175, 179

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    • Reuben
    • May 9th, 2012

    This would be hilarious spoof material if I did not know that George Bryson is serious..

    • Reuben
    • May 9th, 2012

    See, now I am becoming an angry Calvinist.

    • schooloffish
    • May 9th, 2012

    It should also be mentioned that George’s letter is entitled “How not to Air your Grievances yet George never tells us how we should air them. Additionally, I know for a fact that several of these pastors sent personal emails to Chuck Smith and only one was responded to by him. He attacked the pastor with no regard for anything in the letter itself.

  1. Now I’m really mad!!

    • mike
    • May 10th, 2012

    “Additionally, I know for a fact that several of these pastors sent personal emails to Chuck Smith and only one was responded to by him. He attacked the pastor with no regard for anything in the letter itself.”

    so much for the idea that GB is out of touch and out of step with the sentiment of the one ‘does’ speak for CC. could be time to stop marginalizing GB’s perspective and recognize it as reflecting the ‘true’ position of CC and it’s founder. the only reason some refuse to may be that they want CC to capitulate to their calvinist doctrine or at least not challenge it– leaving the door open to ‘change’ CC by default.

    shoe may be on the other foot afterall? all this upset for something you say is ‘open handed’ and a ‘secondary issue’

      • schooloffish
      • May 10th, 2012

      I’m not upset at all. I think God is glorified through CC as much as any other church. However, Mike where we don’t see eye to eye is in weather or not we should discuss even argue over secondary issues. Secondary issues can become primary ones if they are not discussed. There is for instance an example of my criticism of Mark Driscoll’s Limited, Unlimited Atonement on this very blog. I am a leader of an Acts 29 church and Mark (until recently) played the same role that Chuck claims to play in Calvary Chapel. A29 like Calvary is a loose affiliation of independent churches. It is not a denomination in that there is no sharing of funds (this is not my definition of a denomination but for the sake of comparison, I will accept this as the definition). As a Calvinist who holds to the 5 points, I see a major concern with Limited, Unlimited Atonement. It basically says that the atonement on the cross wiped away the sins of all of humanity, past, present and future. When God looks down on humanity and see us he sees us through the spotless perfection of Christ. However, God still chooses from within this group of spotless, sinless people whom he will send to heaven and whom He will send to hell. This position creates equal ultimacy or double predestination. He is in fact affirming what George Bryson says about Calvinism. This position is inconsistent and turns God into a cosmic bully. It does not allow for God to be either Omnibenevolent or just. It’s bad theology and it should be rejected because the removal of God’s attributes is not a secondary issue but the secondary issue taken to its conclusion leads to heresy (such as open theism).

      My objection has never been George’s rejection of Calvinism. A great deal of my friends are not Calvinists and we still fellowship together all the time. My issue is George’s abject ignorance of Calvinism and his inability to paint a true and accurate picture of it. His position of Calvinism, not his acceptance of it, is plain incorrect and he’s been told so on several occasions by people who are far smarter then I.

      Mike, assuming you are an Arminiam (perhaps I am wrong on that but bare with me for a minute). Would it be fair and intellectually honest for me to say. Arminiams believe that everyone goes to heaven? Arminianism is nothing more than repackaged Open Theism. Do you think that I should be admonished for the fact that that this is not what you believe? I think so. I would be fine with Bryson, Hunt, Smith and Geisler as long as they could accurately represent our position. However they haven’t. EVER!

      Here’s an example of what I mean from the pages of Bryson’s book “The Dark Side of Calvinism – The Calvinist Caste System”

      “According to Calvinism, it is futile to try to convert the lost who are not predestined to be saved. Perhaps this explains why so many Calvinists are spending so much time and energy trying to win the already saved to Calvinism. What this means is that Calvinists want other Christians to believe in their convoluted theology, which if fully understood, destroys the gospel to every creature.” (Chuck Smith – Dark Side of Calvinism pg. 4 Forward)

      http://www.bibelkreis.ch/Calvin/The_Dark_Side_of_Calvinism.pdf

      No Calvinist believes that. Hyper Calvinist believe that but I and no one on I know is a Hyper Calvinist. Calvinist believe that God has secured his elect but we as the created have no idea who the elect are, so we act obediently in executing the great commission (we are the means by which God secures his elect). If we didn’t believe this and instead believed what Smith says in the above quote we would be acting more like the Amish. Yet we write systematic theologies, teach in seminaries, publicly debate, host radio programs, plant churches and evangelize. The fact that Bryson, Smith, Hunt and Geisler feel a need to write so many books against Calvinism shows that we Calvinists don’t think it futile to “convert the lost”. We are effective (by the grace of God) at converting the lost and that’s why they don’t like us. You don’t see them writing books against the Amish – ever wonder why? Do you think that Smith is a fairly and accurately representing our position? It is a strawman, unfair, intellectually dishonest and has no purpose but to scare people. Chuck Smith is no dummy he knows what we (Calvinists believe) yet he continues to misrepresent.

      To be honest Mike I think you are trying to shift the burden here. It is not I who is on the offensive ( I can’t speak for everyone you read) I am simply calling for an honest assessment of all sides. I paralleled Bryson and Smith to Michale Brown (see Phx Preacher). Brown is an Arminian who is adamantly opposed to Calvinism. His opposition is pleasant, he is winsome in his approach and he has never misrepresented Calvinism or called us Extreme Calvinist (as Geisler does). I appreciate Michael Brown and anyone who uses a Christlike attitude in their opposition. Bryson, Smith, Hunt and Geisler just don’t do that. They misrepresent, and use aggressive tactics to batter the “competition”. It is I not Bryson, Hunt, Geisler and Smith who believes this is an open handed issue. Geisler calls Calvinism morally repugnant. Really, believing that God is soverign over His creationis “morally repugant”?

      Perhaps you think I am too aggressive and if so, I welcome your feedback on such. My goal is to set the record straight, not to misrepresent. I think I have tried to be consistent and fair to all side on both this blog and the Phoenix Preacher. If not, feel free to tell me so.

  2. I’m kinda speechless, as a Calvary pastors kid I Attended Calvary chapel bible college and naturally went into ministry in calvary chapel. But I have in the last few years experienced the freedom Bryan Stupar wrote about… And I am burdened by the cultish direction Calvary is headed in. I am truly saddened that there seems to be no freedom of thought among many cc pastors, they just want to know what the “big” Calvary pastors believe and they follow suit. I know that I could never minister again in a cc, but I still love the denomination and I pray it will grow from this awkward phase, maybe some of these young angry pastors can help lead them from here.

    • Calvary would say they are protecting the sheep from false doctrine. I think we need more of that in the church, However I think they are more trying to hold on to the traditions of the Jesus Movement of the 70′s rather than removing false doctrine or false teachers. The Jesus Movement was not a bad thing, but taken to the extreme, it creates a Jesus with a single attribute – Love. That message is far more palatable to the masses. Just look at what Calvinism does to churches…read John 6! I really don’t believe they know or care what we may believe.

      If you really want to get pissed, you should read about Calvary Chapel Visalia. In my mind this is a far bigger issue than them misrepresenting Calvinism and calling out Calvinist pastors in their movement.

    • Andy
    • March 22nd, 2013

    This conversation would happen in the “Acts 29″ movement if it ever got as big as Calvary Chapel (which we know, “Acts 29″ will never get that big in reality). I wouldn’t attend any church that had calvinist influences. Does that make me closed-minded? Then I am closed-minded. :)

    • Andy, I hope you are correct. I assume that things like this should happen in Acts 29. Issues of doctrines should divide worship (i.e. I like to worship with people who have similar beliefs as me) but it should not divide the body of Christ. Are you closed minded? Not if you have taken the time to learn the truth of what Calvinists believe. George and many at Calvary Chapel continue to paint an inaccurate picture of Calvinism and that demonstrates that tradition and ignorance guide their beliefs and that is certainly closed-minded. Michael Brown is a die-hard Arminian but he is one because he has researched Calvinism and finds it wanting. I disagree but respect him, Chuck Smith and George Bryson use straw-men not research and that I do not respect. I’m not sure what Calvinist leanings means however. If you are in Calvary Chapel you certainly are likely exposed to some of the teachings of Calvinism. Calvary and other once-saved-always-saved churches have picked the best points of Calvinism and applied them to their doctrines. For instance the P in TULIP is Perseverance of the Saints which OSAS theology relies on (broadly speaking). If you mean to reduce Calvinism down to only a few points, then I understand where you are coming from, I just don’t think it’s very gracious to do. Calvinism is theologically consistent and that’s one of my big criticism of OSAS churches. Most are fine with the “T” Total depravity but redefine it as “kind of depraved” because someone in a state of total depravity is unwilling to remove themselves from their rebellion (hence the word TOTAL). They mock the gospel and find no truth in it, so their ability to self-change is impossible. This point comes from Paul’s teaching of the gospel being foolishness to the unbeliever and that God must remove one’s heart of stone and replace it. Unconditional Election is more of a sticking point to some, but it is actually beautiful if you think about it. Basically it means that God does all the work. He calls, justifies, sanctifies and glorifies. We see this in Romans and in John (chapter 6 is a good starting place). Limited Atonement is hated by the OSAS and that’s why many call themselves four point Calvinists. However, it is impossible to remove this point and stay consistent. If God saves perfectly and unconditionally He either has to provide an open invitation to all men or He has to limit His calling to the elect. If John 6 is correct then no one can come to the Father unless the Father draws the person to Jesus and He (Jesus) states that He will lose NONE of them. Removal of this point creates Universalism and you might as well throw out all of the Bible if you take that position. Given that there is a change of nature that occurs in the unbeliever and God does all the work in the change of our nature AND because Jesus lose no one whom is called and drawn to Him, it is difficult to see how the grace of God can be resisted. Calvinists would say, when God calls, you answer within God’s eternal decree. The problem with this is we all have had miraculous conversions and we remember responding to something so we like to take credit for the work. In reality the Bible teaches that you were already changed which leads to our conversion. In other words – We are predestined – by God. We are called – by God. We are Justified – by Jesus’ work on the cross. We are Sanctified – by the Holy Spirit. We are Glorified – by God in the end. No one is saying you have no role in the process, just that the decree of God can not be resisted otherwise He is not sovereign over his creation. So agree of disagree, Calvinism is rooted in the gospel. My problem is not with disagreement but with misrepresentation of belief. I have had a few personal phone calls with George (very enjoyable man to talk with actually) and I have told him this directly. What I would like to see is he and others represent worldviews properly. We should be careful not to misrepresent another views. It is not Christianly to do so. To say that we believe God predestines people to hell is simply not the case. We believe that without God’s direct action to our heart we will not come to the truth and knowledge of the creator and without the atoning work on the cross for the elect, people will die in their sins. It is represented by Calvary as if there is an unregenerate, unelectable person out there crying out to God and He is saying, sorry, you’re not one of my elect so you go to hell -ha-ha-ha! We go to hell based on our rebellion, we go to heaven by the work of the cross.

      One note on A29, I have no affiliation with A29 and have been very critical of Driscoll’s bad theology as well. Though I was an elder of an A29 church, once Mark Driscol decided to write a so-called systematic theology book, my love for A29 went away. Driscol’s Limited, Unlimited Atonement is about as consistent as a square circle and it makes your Groege Bryson’s point about Calvinism. It basically means that Jesus Atoned for the sins of everyone but only allows some into heaven. So God looks down on a spotless, sinless humanity and then just decides to allow some into His club and other He sends to eternal torment. I believe he took this position to try to make everyone happy and his inability to exegete difficult scriptures has lead him to some horrible conclusions.

      Sorry for the long answer, but you asked a question that is not easy to answer. Do you believe given this brief summery that you have the facts about Calvinism or are you indeed close-minded?

        • Reuben
        • March 22nd, 2013

        Fish, this is critical to the CCV issue. Calvary Chapel has no problem running Calvinists out of the camp, but they refuse to lift a finger to run child molesters and abusers out of the camp.

        So the doctrine over practice philosophy wins with CC, and I aim to see that exposed.

  3. I am a CC Pastor who once was a convinced Calvinist. I am not against Calvinism at all – i just have a slightly different view regarding the elect. I do not believe i am right and all Calvinists are wrong. Actually i could be wrong but i do not believe either myself or my Calvinist friends are heretics or bad leven. Most CC Pastors have MLJ commentaries – many of us listen to Tim Keller (i don’t agree with his views on Creation but i have no desire to change his mind) – I have been inspired by Piper and Driscoll along with Chuck Swindoll and Chuck Smith. Almost all CC Pastors quote Spurgeon who was a Calvinist – who was used of God to save countless men and women plus my favorite Evangelist of the past, George Whitfield was a very fruitful Calvinist. But i love to sing Wesley’s Hymns that clearly have lines that are not Calvinist – and remember he and Whitfield were friends even after their public disagreement about election. The last 2 Calvary Chapel Pastors Conferences I attended had Alistair Begg and James MacDonald as speakers and i believe Alistair in particular is a very strong Calvinist. I wish i was half as effective in reaching people for Christ as he has been. Greg Laurie did a crusade in Seattle with Mark Driscoll and Driscoll took a lot of head over it – nevertheless many were saved and i would imagine Mark and Greg are good friends now. I also notice that Bob Coy is a speaker soon in a Resurgent Conference – i doubt Bob has become a Calvinist – but i can’t think of any reason why he shouldn’t speak there and those present will be greatly blessed. I also believe Pastor Chuck Smith is one of the great men of God historically and the Calvary Movement, which i am loyal to, has reached untold numbers for Christ. I am very sad to see Mr Bryson causing such unnecessary trouble but i am an avid reader of church history and this is just more of the same until the Lord returns at the rapture or at the 2nd coming for most of my Calvinist friends:)

    • I think this is well said. I don’t think it is possible for Calvary and Calvinists to ever have harmony over this issue because it is not a biblical issue but a tradition issue. This is very evident with George. George would never call Calvinism an essential salvation issue but it is important enough to create false arguments against Calvinism in his writings even though he has been publicly taught what Calvinists actually believe. He continues with the same arguments. I personally spoke with George over many of these issues on the phone and even though I enjoy talking with him, he fails to see the issue with creating straw men. As to Greg and Mark working together, I don’t find this hard to believe because I don’t think that Mark is reformed either. Mark’s teaching on Unlimited Limited Atonement is absurd and totally inconsistent. It creates a position of double predestination that is not a reformed position. (Ironically this is a false argument that George would create and in Mark’s circumstance George would be correct) I think both Calvary and A29 have an ultimate authority that links them together – Church Evangelism. Calvinism is a distinctive of one and not the other but desire for explosive growth is more important. What concerns me is I don’t see anywhere in the bible where it says that the church (the institution or building in my use of the word) is supposed to be the vehicle for evangelism. It is the people in the church that are to reach the lost. It is the churches job to teach believers, execute church discipline (I am not talking about just punitive action here) and build community. What has happened in both movements (and the church at large) is that the Sunday service has become a place to attract non-believers so the services are watered down so not the confuse the non-believer. The result is a set of ignorant baby Christians for life who apply their faith through the filter of tradition and not scripture. I think most movements would be better off if they stuck to the essential reasons for church and let the Holy Spirit do His job and save people. I am not suggesting that we not reach the lost (I am not a Hypercalvinist), I am suggesting that if you educate the people on the truth they will be more motivated and effective in reaching the lost. Instead, both movements are busy attracting people and this has created a situation where the people who are called by God to reach the lost are leaving it up to the pastor to do that work. I think my argument would be consistant with what you have written on your “about” page of your blog under “The Church Gathered and Scattered”. As soon as Calvary (and Greg in particular) and Mark decide to do what God has called them to do which is educate believers, reprove the confused or back slidden, build community and watch over the flock, they will never see that church is not a place for non-believers. I am quite frankly, tired of chuch movements. Something becomes a movement because in many cases the starter has decided to jump off the shoulders of the giants of the faith and do something different and innovative that attracts lots of people. If they don’t, it would never be seen as a movement. Give me a small church with educated, focused believers any day over a movement. Let me be clear here, Calvary and A29 save no one and I don’t think Chuck or Mark or anyone else deserve a single aculade. They are depraved individuals who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. God is given that glory and He can and has used Calvary and A29 to grow His kingdom. There is no place for pastor worship yet the concept is rampit in both movements. Pastor worship leads to the ultimate authority shifting from scripture to tradition. “We Pastor Chuck said that Calvinists are..” If people want a religion based in pastor worship, I suggest they look at Roman Catholicism as an alternative to Christanity. Thanks for writing and I will pray that God multiplies your church as He sees fit.

    • ballin27
    • June 24th, 2013

    This is interesting. I grew up going to Calvary Chapel under Chuck Smith. Then went to Calvary Chapel Bible College. Did extremely well at the school until about a year and a half in, when I began to question more. Not doubt, not preach something else, just asked why. That was frowned upon and I was thrown out immediately and told to never step foot back on the campus. I was then ostricized publicly by school leaders in front of the entire student body with no ability to defend myself (since I was not allowed back). I lost friendships and what I thought was my “family” in Christ. All because I didnt want to believe something because someone else told me to believe it but because I had found it to be true based on facts presented in the Bible.

      • Reuben
      • June 24th, 2013

      Right. Your story is not unique.

        • Reuben
        • June 24th, 2013

        I should add, infuriating, but not unique.

  4. May I ask what doctrine you were questioning? I was also a CC pastor, now a Reformed pastor who still has a CC flavor in ministry.

    • I question several doctrines of Calvary Chapel. Once Saved Always Saved Theology is of course the scope of this article, but I would also question pre-tribulation rapture and dispensationalism. In addition I have a bit of an issue with Calvary Costa Mesa making the claim that they are not in control of the local churches yet they send letters like the one Goerge Bryson sent to kick Reformed pastors out the door. They seem to want to control that issue but take no position on the accusation brought against Calvary Chapel Visalia regarding child molestation and the on going law suites between Christians. They also seem to be lacking in wisdom as of late. Giving people like Ergen Caner a platform to speak when the guy has been shown to be a liar and deceiver. Then they arrest a church member for bring it to their attention?

      With all that said, I have no issue with Calvary per se. Like with any church movement they will have good things and bad things about them. I think that Calvary has reached the point where their movement has run its course and they are now in defense mode. They need to realize that the church is not their church but God’s church and God raises up movements and takes them down when they get out of control. I think Calvary has reached this point and it would be better for them to just do their thing and not worry about other pastors who are leading their flocks. I think Chuck Smith needs to consider stepping down given that he is more interested in protecting his tradition than his flock from wolves. He goes after Calvinism yet he allows alleged molestation and wolves in sheep’s clothing to teach in the church (Ergen Caner).

    • David
    • July 8th, 2013

    I was a prodigal son. I have always believed in Christ our Savior. In 1988 I was going to Cal State Long Beach, and working at a floor covering store. I started working with a devout calvanist laying carpet at night and on Saturday. My life was sex, drugs, and rock and roll and a little bit of college.

    He encouraged me to go to Calvary Chapel in Downey. I have always wondered why he didn’t invite me to the reformed church he attended.

    In the last 23 years I have been growing in my faith. I have been to most “types” of churches. Listened to their teaching. Watched and observed how people treat each other, and been a student of the living word of God.

    I have always thought it best to read the Bible 95% of the time, and what man thinks it says, 5%. I have heard the doctrinal reasoning of every faith claiming to be followers of Jesus Christ.

    I have listened to Pastor Chuck teach the Bible. One thing I think people seem to be confused about is that Pastor Chuck never claims to be some sort of prophet. He’s just a teacher, and trying to understand the scriptures how God would have us understand them. He often says that if someone shows him where he is wrong, he would willingly change his position on the matter.

    I don’t agree with all of Pastor Chucks conjectures, if I did, I could see reason to believe I was in a cult, but I do agree with all of his doctrinal interpretations of scripture. With or without Pastor Chuck, I would study the word of God and come up with the same opinion as he has come up with in what it says and means. That’s because I believe every word in the Bible literally. God’s word is not difficult to understand.

    I have been around calvanist for 24 years. I now live in an area where 90% of the churches around my town are reformed. There is probably 20 completely different reformed churches in my town. All teaching their personal understanding of the commentary of Calvin. Study life in Geneva in the 1500′s under his direction. Interesting view of how to live a Christian life.

    Why anyone would want to hang a Calvary Chapel sign out front of their church and be reformed in their teaching does not make sense to me. And to think the Jesus movement and the Calvary Chapel movement was one of freedom to teach any theology the pastor is lead to believe is silly. All Pastor Chuck says is that as a church we have certain distinctive’s, if you want to call yourself, and or be affiliated as, a Calvary Chapel you must believe similar. If you don’t, than go start you own movement and call it whatever you want. Why is that so terrible. Would it be better if we just called our self a denomination. Would that solve the whole problem. I don’t think when the new pastor comes into the reformed church, he will be welcomed if he starts teaching free will. Why is it any different with Calvary Chapel?

    Here’s something else I don’t understand. Would you listen to a mormon preaching, or a jw preacher for several hours a week? I am not interested in being discipled by their teachers. The same holds true for me and men teaching the reformed theology. I have studied the theology for 24 years and find nothing in it I want to embrace. Nothing. It to me is the most offensive of all Christian faiths. So arrogant to think that God chose you and that you are saved. How would you ever know, until the judgement seat? Perseverance? Regeneration before faith is no faith. If God wills your salvation you have no faith. Infant baptism? How old was Jesus when he was baptized?

    These are not casual differences of thinking. They are the future of our faith. For what we teach our children will go into the next generation.

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Praise God that every person on earth can have eternal life through faith in Christ and belief in His resurrection.

    • Given your 24 years of study of Reformed Theology perhaps you can layout exactly what you mean by it? The only points you made directly is that it is offensive and arrogant that the sovereign God and Creator of the universe chooses whom He will save and whom He will not. Are you saying God is offensive and arrogant? Can you give me an idea of what Reformed Theology actually means to you?

    • I should confess that I lived in Vancouver Battleground for over 6 years, knowing that area (and assuming that your IP address is accurate as to your location, I am only aware of 1 out of 30 churches in that area that is Reformed. This gives me pause as to if you know what Reformed means. Additionally, I question if you’ve ever been to a reformed church. I have never, ever seen a reformed church teach the history of John Calvin as opposed to the scriptures. Calvinism is rooted in scripture, we don’t need to study Calvin to come to any conclusion. Nor is Reformed Theology dependent or consistent with all of Calvin’s teachings.

      Lastly, one problem that many Christians have is the belief that you can read the scriptures through a 21 century set of eyes and contexts. The bible was not written to you. It was written to the 1st century Jews and Gentiles and it wasn’t written in English. John 3:16 doesn’t say what you think it does. First, the “whosoever” isn’t in the original language at all. It says in Greek “Those who are in continual belief shall not parish but have eternal life” This is not a prescription for salvation, it’s a description of the saved! The question remains from that passage how one stays in continual belief? Lucky for us, John speaks to this just a few chapters later. When he says:

      “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
      So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me ” – John 6

      or in Romans

      What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
      You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? – Romans 9

      Chuck Smith is well aware of what we believe and he continues to set up a straw man and burn it down, so though I have also heard Chuck make the statement that he will change his views, he won’t and in fact he keep saying the same thing even though most of what he says has nothing to do with what we believe. Saying we are arrogant because God calls some and not others is not an argument, it’s desperation. There are arrogant Calvinists, so what? All sides have their share of arrogance and an arrogant delivery doesn’t make something untrue.

      Lastly, I find it arrogant to compare Reformed people to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and I find it profoundly arrogant to say you would never listen to a Reformed Pastor. Not even Chuck Smith would say that! John MacArthur, RC Sproul, Charles Spurgeon, John Piper, these guys are reformed and they are popular even in Calvary.

      How about instead of giving a long list of ad hominem and personal experience you present an argument as to where we are wrong and we can discuss that!

  5. I don’t even know how I ended up right here, but I assumed this post used to be good. I don’t recognize
    who you’re however certainly you’re going to a well-known blogger if you
    are not already. Cheers!

  6. Good ole George “Read My Book” Bryson. Professional builder of straw men, so he can knock them down.

    • nathan kimbleton
    • May 3rd, 2014

    Wait a minute. I am totally baffled and confused. Is this a bad spoof or is this article for real? Half of your 9 points are complete garbage. I mean, total garbage. Has the author of this post ever actually attended a Calvary Chapel?

    ” Chuck is indeed the Pope and whatever he speaks is the truth and should not be questioned”- I attended a Calvary Chapel for 8 years. I only heard the name of Chuck Smith mentioned 3 or 4 times max. I would have had no idea that he founded Calvary in Costa Mesa if I hadn’t Googled it.

    “Calvary Chapel is indeed a denomination. If you do not agree with certain distinctives of the movement you should be removed from the denomination.”- Perhaps I should retract. 8 points are garbage. This one is true. Not necessarily because of ideology but more for size.

    “Calvary Chapel, though they have no distinctive against Calvinism does indeed believe that Calvinism has no place in the movement and it is grounds for termination.” – What specifically do you allege Calvary has against Calvinism? In 8 years, I heard multiple Pastors chide the congregation that they should accept fellow believers regardless of denomination. We are all believers.

    “Calvary Chapel’s creed “The Bible is our Creed” is indeed false. Otherwise they would have no problem with reading and listening to non-Calvary pastors and teachers. Calvary Chapel’s true creed is “Sheltering our pastors and followers is our creed”” – This is unbelievable garbage. Most Calvary Chapel’s that I attend don’t even teach topically. They teach a chapter by chapter verse by verse study of scripture. In truth, my mother was a Westlyn pastor and my friend is a Calvinist pastor. I learned more from CC about scripture then I learned from either one of them.

    “The letter confirms that Calvary Chapel is beyond anti Calvinist as they are on the attack and find Calvinism the number one problem with Christianity. This is easily shown by looking at the attacks on you “- Is this a personal vendetta against one pastor that doesn’t like Mark Driscoll? In the CC I attended, we did several studies of Driscoll’s material and his Acts 29 network is seen in very high regard. I love Driscoll’s stuff and have great respect for his story and for Mars Hill.

    “The article simply proves that those talking against Calvary are correct. Bryson’s poor use of scripture against Calvinism shows that he is grossly sheltered to the reality of scripture. He also (though refuted publicly on many occasions) continues to set up a straw man against Calvinism. See George’s comical response to John 6:44 WATCH VIDEO in a debate with James White”- Since we are talking about scripture, let me lay one on you….1 Corinthians 1:12-15 “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos and I of Cephas and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized NONE OF YOU but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name”. Why are we hammering each other? Were you baptized in the name of Calvin or Wesley or Smith? Did any of these men offer you your salvation? If not (and I promise the answer is NOT) then why are we talking about two dead men and a denominational founder and not talking about Jesus Christ?!

    “George Bryson is yet another parrot of Norm Geisler. Geisler has publicly stated that he believes that no one younger than him can teach him anything. Note the George uses age to determine if it is okay to question Chuck Smith. He contrasts these young pastors with the old guys in the movement who are all behind Chuck” – I don’t know George Bryson and Norm Geisler from Micky Mouse and Daffy Duck. But I find it hard to believe that Chuck Smith does not believe anyone younger than he can teach him anything, when I’ve actually seen roundtables with him in it (after finding out he founded CC) which are full of younger pastors than himself.

    “George Bryson believes that Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel are one in the same. Only one of the accusations was against Chuck the others were against the Calvary movement. His appalling use of James 3:5 as a battering ram to keep people from questioning the leadership smells of Roman Catholicism. Of course I can use the same argument on George. Simply stating that he is violating his own principles by speaking ill of Mark Driscoll who has never once said anything ill of Calvary Chapel ans has in fact tried to unify with them.” – Again, I find your reasoning flawed. First, Chuck Smith is not the Senior Pastor of every Calvary Chapel. Second, I reiterate that my Calvary had and has great respect for Mark Driscoll. His teachings on marriage and manhood are spot on. His church plant network is second to none. We all agree he is anointed. His book, ‘Real Marriage’ was a must read in our men’s ministry. I attended a Calvary with 20 thousand members. The largest Calvary Chapel in the country. So this is no small nod of respect to a great pastor. Third, I find it hard to believe that you are defending Calvin by defiling Roman Catholics. Isn’t your whole point that we have no business persecuting each other…or is your point that John Calvin is the way to Heaven?

    • Looking past the personal insults, I was on the inside of Calvary Chapel leadership/politics for nearly 12 years and attended 4 through out the country and none ever taught on Calvinism at all except 1 and that pastor was replaced shortly there after – wonder why? So what? I would hope that any church built around the distinctive of attacking a secondary issue would not stand and I am unaware of any church where they preach on Calvinism and its problems on a weekly basis – if at all. That does not however address the fact that Calvary Chapel’s foundation is based on a low view of theology and this comes across in this exchange as well. Given that you testified to the fact that you would have had no idea who Chuck Smith was had you not Googled him nor any of the other leaders I pointed out, nor have you clearly read “Calvary Chapel’s Distinctives” or any of Bryson’s books like “The Dark Side of Calvinism” nor heard or read any of Geisler’s works on the matter (all that grossly misrepresent and paint Calvinism as morally repugnant), I had to chuckle at the accusation that the points are “crap”. By the way, never said Chuck Smith would not allow anyone younger than him to teach him, I said that about Norman Geisler and he said it on the radio! It seems to me that you don’t really know the church you attend very well. Of course, your response if consistent with Calvary Chapel’s reducing scripture down to personal experience and placing one’s own experience over the facts. Your experience is not of interest to me because your personal experience does not align with the reality of the church movement. Furthermore, theses point are specifically addressing the letter George Bryson – FROM CALVARY CHAPEL AND SMITH’S GO TO PERSON FOR ANTI-CALVINISTIC DOCTRINE – wrote. Calvary Chapel for decades has made the claim that they are open and biblical, but the letter from George Bryson shows what everyone knew but had no proof; that they are indeed just as closed and protective of their “doctrine” as any other denomination while saying they are not a denomination. Bryson just had the guts to say publicly what was previously Calvary’s dirty little secret. Of course I have no issue with Calvary having a doctrine, nor do I care if they kick Calvinists out the church. If an Arminian wanted to be in leadership in my church, I would say “no”. The difference is, I don’t claim to be open to all. Calvary does.

      Not all Calvary Chapels are anti-calvinist either. That’s the point! Chuck Smith through George Bryson was trying to eliminate the pro-calvinists from the movement and he took shots of Driscoll to do that. By the way, I am no fan of Driscoll either, but the attack on Driscoll and many of the pastors he listed in the letter (that I suspect you didn’t read) was crossing the line and I had a phone call with George Bryson and personally told him that. Driscoll has nothing to do with Calvary Chapel unless Bryson and other leaders of the church find him in competition for souls which is only a problem if you believe that you are the one who gets people into the kingdom of God. If you do indeed attend CC Ft Lauderdale or more likely a campus closer to your home, you are not in pro calvinism territory in the least. Bob Coy is certainly no friend to the doctrine. His best sermon ever was his explanation of how Lazarus raised himself from the dead because after all, Jesus can’t get in the way of Lazarus’s freewill. Of course with a low view of theology and unadulterated pastor worship going on at that church (which became evident by looking at the response from the church regarding his adulterous affairs and lack of call for repentance by the community and desire to restore him as pastor almost immediately – luckily Coy and the elders have a better grasp on church discipline than the members do ). Not sure what being anointed has to do with anything given that all believers are anointed, but I suspect you and the person who I was addressing my my letter would probably disagree on Driscoll’s anointing, but George follows this blog so he can response in his own defense.

      Frankly, it is not courteous to read other people’s mail and personalize it. I was addressing a particular letter sent by a particular man about a particular topic (kind of like Paul is doing in 2/3rd of the new testament) and you have taken it and applied it to you and your experience as if I was addressing you or your church in particular. That’s not courteous, and it leads me to believe that you never read Bryson’s letter which is clearly placed below my points. Furthermore, as a teacher, I would think that you would know that making assertions like “this is crap” without addressing a single bit of direct evidence is not an honest way to argue. Instead you’re applying your personal experience to the situation and then calling me out because my experience doesn’t align with yours. Let’s put it in other terms. Would you have a student read a book on the history of China and allow the students to say, this is “crap because I’ve been to China and I didn’t see any of the stuff the book was talking about”? I suspect they would get an “F” especially if it appeared as though the student didn’t actually read the book.

      • Reuben
      • May 3rd, 2014

      Hi there Nathan

      As a former youth pastor/associate pastor in Calvary Chapel for 12 years, and having attended multiple pastors conferences, known and worked with over 300 pastors in the movement on the “distinctives”, worked with 20 some CCs, and we’ll versed in the teachings of Chuck et all, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that you, sir, have no idea what you are talking about.

      The only thing that I specifically want to point out is that Chuck was not the founder of CC. Kay Smith, Chuck’s wife (a woman), and Lonnie Frisbee (a homosexual) founded CC. Which is ironic considering how the movement is against homosexuality, and disregards entirely the roll of women in the church, not even allowing the wives to attend senior pastors conferences for most of its existence.

      Carry on…

    • Reuben
    • May 3rd, 2014

    Just stirring the pot!

    Chuck was fired from his denomination. Kay prayed for a way to reach the hippies. Lonnie (hippy) showed up and started evangelizing to hippies.

    Whamo.

    I like to point that out, because descending dove defenders never hear that part of the story.

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