A call for Consistency Gone Unanswered

As anyone can see from the last few posting, I have tried graciously to allow George Bryson to answer for the claims he made about a few pastors who are in or were formally in the Calvary Chapel movement.  My defiense has never been to defend the actions of the pastors but that George, speaking for Chuck Smith, made the very point that he was trying to defend.  Chuck is Calvary’s pope, extending control far beyond the stretched of a loose affiliation of churches.  Calvinism is the enemy of Calvary Chapel, even though Arminianism it’s not an official distinctive.  Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel are beyond being contested and whatever Chuck says goes making tradition and not truth the ultimate goal.

All of that can be seen in the previous posts.  This post is about how we seek truth and what it means to be an ambassador of Christ.  I asked Mr Bryson if he had received any responses to his letter and he has, up until this point not provided an answer.  Mr Bryson instead concludes that my blog is a” trash Calvary Chapel web site”, yet he will fail to find but a few circumstances where I have even mentioned Calvary Chapel.  In fact, with the exception of a post a few years ago, any mention of Calvary Chapel has been in defense of an attack by Calvary Chapel.  So defending ones own position is trashing another?  This shows yet again that there are two standards at play.  Mr Bryson accused me of living in “non-accountability land” for not allowing him to see my real name, so I provided him with a link to my personal Facebook page so he can see my name, wife, family, even my address and cell phone #.  I have no interest in spitting venom from afar while hiding in the shadows.  However, when asked if he is willing to posts any responses from the pastors who reputations were trashed by him and presumably Calvary Chapel, he has no response.  So for consistency sake, I will post at least one response to his letter from a “relatively young ex-Calvary pastor” so those of you who have been following this, can at least see the character of the man in question.  It is important that the letter below went unanswered.  With this, it is difficult for me to conclude that George and Calvary Chapel are really willing to seek truth with gentleness and reverence.  It seems apparent to me that the goal is as I have always concluded to scare Calvary Chapel pastors from speaking up and to sever any ties with non-Calvary chapel people.  Calvary Chapel seems to have a desire to create a Christian sub-culture, not a unified church.  You be the judge.  And George, you are always welcome to respond and if you’re in the neighborhood feel free to stop by for dinner now that you have my home address.

RESPONSE FROM A RELATIVELY YOUNG EX-CALVARY PASTOR

George,

This is Ryan Couch.

I was made aware of your letter through a friend. You said you didn’t expect to hear from us, so I thought I would surprise you.

Joking aside, I have thought about what I wrote many times in the 3 years that have passed. I didn’t write it to hurt anyone, especially Pastor Chuck. In fact I don’t think I said anything pejorative about Chuck Smith personally in my blog post. I wrote the article because I didn’t feel at the time there was a medium to share concerns and I was also frustrated by the fact that we were largely ignoring major problems in our movement while focusing on small things like I mentioned in the post. I know you wouldn’t consider things like CC pastors having Reformed leanings to be small, this is where you and I have a big disparity in our thinking. But that is not the reason I’m writing you.

You probably don’t remember that in 1993 you stayed at my parents house while speaking at CC Olympia, WA. I was a 17 year old high school student and you and I stayed up until 1am talking about theology; mainly why you didn’t agree with Reformed Theology. I had Calvinistic leanings even back then J.

I became a CC pastor because I believed it was the movement that fit me best. It was not until many years later that I realized that due to many changes in CC (primarily becoming defined by what we’re against and the steady isolation of our movement away from everyone else in Christianity) that I began to think about moving on.

I did not leave CC because I believed A29 was better; in fact I never intended to leave CC. It just became painfully obvious that I was not welcome in the movement any longer. I was told that being a member of both A29 and CC was not possible and that I needed to choose between the two. I chose the network that I believed was a better fit for me, and the church I was planting in Fort Collins.

I have spent the majority of my life attending, being educated, and planting CC churches. I have many friends in the movement, in fact we have many mutual friends. Your wife spoke at one of our women’s retreats while I was pastoring in Oregon, my wife absolutely loves here.

I owe a tremendous debt to CC, Pastor Chuck, and many CC pastors. CC will always hold a special place in my heart.

I don’t know what the future holds for me…networks are filled with sinful people leading sinful churches. The good news is that we all serve a Perfect Savior who gives us His righteousness and takes our sin, removing it as far as the east is from the west.

My encouragement to you is to quit seeing yourself as the CC watchdog. CC, Pastor Chuck, and the so called distinctive don’t need to be protected.

Furthermore as Christians we need to rally around those things that unite us.

There is no place for bitterness or unforgiveness amongst those who have been forgiven so much. I pray that we can all let go of the grievances we have against those who have hurt us. The gospel is sufficient not only for our sins, but for the sins committed against us.

Pastors have the proclivity to be some of the most bitter people on the planet…I don’t want to be a bitter pastor.

The only antidote to this ugly sin is the gospel. My bitterness stems from the idol of approval that I’ve worshiped my entire life. Before I was converted I sought approval through being successful. What I didn’t realize until the last few years is that this same idol still resides in my heart, but now I worship it through means that are acceptable in the church and the Christian culture. I desperately want to be successful…a successful, respected, well known pastor. But the gospel frees me to find my approval in who I already am in Christ…what He’s done for me, not what I do for him, or anyone else.

And because I’m such an idolater at heart, I have to preach this truth to myself every day. I’m so prone to forgetfulness. So bent on finding my worth, value, and approval in what others think and say about me, instead of what Jesus declares about me.

I love you George. I commend your courage to be a Christian leader. I affirm your desire to do great things for the Kingdom. Keep preaching Jesus. Continue pointing people to Him. He’s the hero. Let’s keep him as the focus and remember that we’re not that important in the grand scheme of things.

Believing the Gospel,

Ryan

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