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Chuck Smith & Calvary Chapel

Chuck Smith is one of the most popular (Luke 6:26) and influential leaders of Christianity today. He is pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California. He started in 1965 with only 25 people. In six months it doubled. Today there are several thousand people who attend his church, and they have planted Calvary Chapels all over the globe.

In his booklet, The Philosophy of Ministry of Calvary Chapel, (copyright 1992), Chuck Smith notes,

As we grew and covered Jerusalem, we began to spread into Judea. My son, Chuck, Jr., Greg Laurie, Jeff Johnson, Mike MacIntosh, Raul Ries, and Jon Courson began Bible studies and fellowships all throughout California. From Judea we spread into Samaria with other effective Calvary Chapels springing up in Washington, Oregon, Florida, Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Mexico and Washington D.C.. in the uttermost parts of the world England, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippians, Thailand, India, Egypt, Uganda, Peru, Chile, San Salvador, Guatemala, and elsewhere. (p. 21-22)

On the back cover on the inside flap of the dust jacket of his book, Why Grace Changes Everything, it says,

Chuck Smith is one of the leading Bible teachers in the United States. His dynamic ministry grew out of the youth movement of the '60s and '70s into what has become a nationwide group of churches known as Calvary Chapels. Over 400 churches, nationally and internationally, have grown out of Calvary Chapel, some of them with memberships of more than 5,000. Today, 20,000 families claim Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa as their home church. Chuck's radio ministry, The Word for Today, is also heard on hundreds of stations across the United States. (Why Grace Changes Everything, copyright 1994 by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon)

This man, Chuck Smith, and his church, Calvary Chapel, has had a broad influence upon the Christian world, but his teaching is poison.

I. False Teaching On Suicide.

In the book, Answers For Today, by Chuck Smith, the question is asked,

Q: Is a person who commits suicide totally lost for eternity?

Smith's answer?

A: Definitely not! I believe that a person who is driven to the point of committing suicide no longer has full responsibility for the things he's doing. Driven to a point of such mental extremes, he isn't necessarily responsible for the action of taking his own life. (p. 88-89; revised edition p. 116)

This is such a damning lie! Man is held responsible for his actions (Revelation 20:11-15; Galatians 6:7; 1 Corinthians 5:10), even with a debased mind (Romans 1:28-32). Smith goes on,

Certainly, Scripture doesn't indicate anywhere that this suicide is an unpardonable sin. The only sin for which there is no forgiveness is that of rejecting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. (p. 89)

Isn't that what suicide is? It is rejecting Christ as your Lord and Savior! The very fact that they are suicidal (ready and willing to kill themselves) proves them to be reprobate, in rebellion against God (1 Samuel 15:23), and still at odds with Him (Romans 5:1).

Suicide goes directly against Matthew 24:13; John 15:1-6; Romans 11:22; 1 Corinthians 15:2; Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 3:6, 14; 12:25; and 1 John 5:4. Committing suicide is not enduring to the end (Matthew 24:13). It is not abiding in Christ (John 15:1-6). It is not continuing in His goodness (Romans 11:22). It is not holding fast the word (1 Corinthians 15:2). It is definitely being moved away from the hope of the gospel (Colossians 1:23). It is not holding fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end (Hebrews 3:6). It is not holding the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end (Hebrews 3:14). It is refusing and turning away from Him who speaks from heaven (Hebrews 12:25). And, it is not overcoming the world (1 John 5:4), but rather being overcome by the world and the devil (1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 5:18).

Suicide is wicked and a complete breach of any faith (trust) in God. It is a Satanic lie and a dreadful door to hell.

Larry Taylor, an assisting pastor to Chuck Smith and administrator of Calvary Chapel Bible College, has written a booklet entitled, Suicide And The Church (dated 1994). In there he states,

So then, we see that a born again Christian could commit suicide, and if he did, he would go to heaven. (under #V., sixth to last paragraph)

This booklet is actually quite sad. He tells of the suicide of his own son Elliott Lowell, who killed himself on February, 11, 1986. On the last page of the booklet he says,

Over the years, I have personally experienced every emotion in this little booklet-I know first hand the sorrow, pain, guilt, fear, grief, anxiety, and suffering of losing a child to suicide. Elliott had become deeply involved in Dungeons and Dragons and was listening regularly to secular music. I was too ignorant to see where it was leading him until it was too late.

This was in a "Christian" home. Elliott was so deeply involved in Dungeons and Dragons that it lead to his suicide. He left a note for his family that explained that he was not depressed, but that he "just wanted to try a new life".

Suicide is a woeful and hellish reality, and as such, people lie to themselves unwilling to face the truth. Larry Taylor says in his booklet,

I do not understand why Elliott is dead. I do not know why he did this terrible and hurtful thing to his family and friends. There is much I do not know.

This is because he is unwilling to know. It is evident why Elliott killed himself (from the note). It is because he was heavily into sorcery (Revelation 21:8). The grave stone reads thus, on the front,

Elliott Lowell Taylor, 1971-1986, I HAVE COME THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE, JOHN 10:10A.

The reverse side reads,


The truth is too hard to face, so men lie to themselves, just as Romans 1:18 says (and John 3:20).

[Note: The game of Dungeons and Dragons (or D & D as many "gamers" would refer to it) is a game which involves sorcery, violence, the worship of false gods, raising the dead, and anything the imagination of the Dungeon Master can conjure up. A game played with dice and the imagination, which to many is the excuse and reason that this game is harmless. Knowing of God's explicit thoughts on sorcery which is found in Deuteronomy 18:10f and many others, it is amazing any "Christian" would even consider playing it, or any parent would allow their child to get involved in it. It is an abomination to the Lord.]

II. Chuck Smith Is Ecumenical.

In his book, Answers For Today (copyright 1993), Smith says the following,

Paul points out that some say, "I'm of Paul," while others say, "I'm of Apollos." He asked, "Isn't that carnal?" But what's the difference between saying that or saying, "I'm a Baptist," "I'm a Presbyterian," "I'm a Methodist," "I'm a Catholic"? I have found that the more spiritual a person becomes, the less denominational he is. We should realize that we're all part of the Body of Christ and that there aren't any real divisions in the Body. We're all one.

What a glorious day when we discover that God loves the Baptists! - And the Presbyterians, and the Methodists, and the Catholics. We're all His and we all belong to Him. We see the whole Body of Christ, and we begin to strive together rather than striving against one another. (p. 157)

If anything should be clear, Catholics are in no way part of the Body of Christ. Catholicism is filled with demonic activity (1 Timothy 4:1f; please see our report on Catholicism). Note also 2 John 9-11. Chuck Smith does not bring this doctrine.

III. Smith Denies The Power Of Godliness (2 Timothy 3:5)

This is exemplified via his teaching on a "Carnal Christian". In his book, Why Grace Changes Everything, Smith rightly says,

I find at times that I am battling my flesh so that I do not do the things I really want to do. Sometimes my activities and actions are opposed to my faith in Jesus Christ. But I can't live in that condition. I may stumble and fall, as does everyone, but I don't lie there. The Spirit won't let me lie there. (p. 73)

This is true Biblical teaching. Yet, in his book, Answers For Today (copyright 1993), under what is a carnal Christian (p. 148 and following), he contradicts himself and denies the power of godliness (i.e. the power of a changed life that comes through faith in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:17).

The carnal Christian, however, has enough of the Lord to be saved, but not enough of the Lord to rest in that salvation. He has enough of Christ to be miserable in the world, but too much of the world to be happy in Christ. (p. 148)

So, to begin with, we see his definition of a "carnal Christian" is a person who is "saved". Then on page 154 he says,

The "carnal Christian" is the man who has been awakened by the Spirit of God to his need of Jesus Christ and has received Jesus Christ into his life as his Savior, but he has never submitted his life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Thus, he is one who believes in Jesus Christ as his Savior, but is still ruled by his flesh.

Such a person is not saved!




IV. A Subtle Diversion Away From Loving The Truth.

Larry Taylor also wrote a booklet entitled, Things I Learned From My Pastor (sub title - Biblical Principles of Ministry as Taught by Pastor Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, dated 1994). This booklet is (as of at least 1994) sold in the book store at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa. In the introduction he states,

The principles of ministry which follows are not at all original with me. In fact, 100% of what follows I was taught by my pastor, Chuck Smith, the pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California and Bible teacher on the Word for Today radio series. Pastor Chuck has been my pastor for over twenty years. Many years ago, he took me, along with many other misplaced young men, under his wing, and taught us by example how to be shepherds of God's people. All that I've done is pull together what he taught us in one outline.

Under point "XIII. Be Balanced Theologically (see 1 Tim. 4:16. II Tim. 2:23-26)", Mr. Taylor writes,

Pastor Chuck has always sought to avoid those issues which do nothing but divide the Body of Christ, and, as he once said, "when Christ's Body is divided, pray tell, who bleeds?"

Avoiding controversial issues is not loving the truth (John 14:6)! Jesus was very controversial and much division was created because of Him (see Luke 12:51-53; John 7:40-43; 9:16; 10:15-21).

Someone may argue that what Larry Taylor and Chuck Smith mean is that they don't get involved in foolish controversies (like 2 Timothy 2:14, 23). That may be the case in some cases. But, let's take an example from Chuck Smith on how this is lived out. In Why Grace Changes Everything on page 174 he says,

In my early years of ministry in Tucson, I had an unpleasant encounter with a group of "Jesus Only" Pentecostals. This cult teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are merely different terms for Jesus. . . . (bold added)

So, he's dealing with "cult" teaching. He goes on,

Sadly, a couple of influential families in our church bought into this doctrine. Soon they targeted me as their next project and began to "zealously affect" me. They would take me out to lunch and go on and on about my great potential and how much they loved the church. Now, I have always detested arguing Scripture with people. (p. 174-175).

Note what he means by "not arguing Scripture".

I usually let them lay out their faulty positions without trying to tear them apart. And so these people would quote the scripture where Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30) and I would say, "Yes, that is right. That is what He said." Every time they would quote Scripture I would say, "Yes, that is what it says." But I wouldn't argue with them. Of course, I knew many scriptures that would clarify the issue, but I didn't bother to argue with these folks. Jesus said, "Agree with thine adversary quickly whiles thou art in the way with him" (Matthew 5:25), so I would agree with the scriptures they cited. While I didn't agree with their peculiar interpretations, I always agreed with the scripture itself. Since I wasn't arguing with them, these people thought they had me persuaded. (p. 175)

This in no way is what Paul was talking about in 2 Timothy 2:23-26. ("correcting them"). Look at how bad he deceived them and let them go on in this "cult" teaching without correcting them!

One day, they brought up their doctrine in an adult Sunday school class. When the teacher effectively refuted their position, some of them tried to claim that I was in their camp. The teacher immediately called me in to settle the dispute. When I told the class I believed that God is one yet is manifested in the distinct persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the "Jesus Only" faction became livid. (p. 174-175)

If they were not so bold about their "cult" teaching, it seems Chuck Smith would have been content to let them continue on in it! He had them thoroughly convinced that he agreed with them!

The next day they called me on the phone and said, "We want to see you tonight at our house." That evening I visited them and they demanded, "What is the big idea, denying the truth? How could you deny what you really believe?" And I replied, "I didn't. . ." (p. 175)

And then, finally, he lets them know what he believes. How could you do such a thing (leave someone in false doctrine, as if what they believed was no big deal!) and still love the truth? You can't!

Note another example of how Calvary Chapel subtly leads people away from a zealous love for the truth. In another booklet by Larry Taylor entitled, The Ministry of An Assisting Pastor (or, More Things I Learned From My Pastor) dated 1994, on the front cover it says, "Calvary Chapel College . . . A Ministry of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Chuck Smith, Pastor." In the forward he says,

Once more, I can take no credit whatsoever for the material in this small book. Everything here was taught to me by my pastor of the last twenty years or more, Chuck Smith, the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, California. Moreover, virtually everything contained here, Pastor Chuck taught to me non-verbally. Pastor Chuck believes that ministry must be "caught" not "taught", i.e. that ultimately it is something you learn by watching and doing, not by, reading books, or listening to lectures.

So, what does Larry Taylor say he "caught" from Chuck Smith? (Remember, this booklet is sold at the Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa book store under the authority and leadership of Chuck Smith.) Under #46, Larry Taylor correctly says,

Defend the flock of God from that doctrine which will hurt them, and from those false shepherds who would fleece them.

Yet, under point #7 "Never Gossip", he hypocritically says,

Gossip may be defined as saying anything negative, whether true or not, to anyone about the pastor or about the ministry. If there are things wrong, take it to the Lord in prayer. Tell absolutely no one, including your spouse. Do not repeat anything that would cast aspersion of the ministry in any way. Doing so dishonors Christ and His cause. But, you say, what do you do if there are real problems? Pray about them and forget them. If that doesn't work, take your concerns directly and only to the pastor himself, and share with him honestly. If that doesn't work, resign and move on. Under no circumstances should you ever say anything negative about the pastor or the ministry to anyone, even after you've quit.

In a situation where something in the church is so completely wrong that the sheep in the body are in spiritual danger, then say nothing to anybody, resign, and move on. If the church is a Calvary Chapel affiliate, then take your concerns and share them privately with Pastor Chuck or with Fong, then drop it, leave it alone. Let them handle it. Trust God. He'll correct the situation. But, do not gossip. It is a terrible sin before God.

Sound like the teaching of a hireling?

But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep." (John 10:12-13)

Larry Taylor's above statement is the opposite of loving the truth (please see Galatians 2:11f; 1 Timothy 5:19-20 for how leaders in the church should be dealt with). How important is it for a pastor to instill in the flock a zealous love for the Truth? Note 2 Thessalonians 2:10--they are damned without it. To not love the truth, is to not love Christ. If a person doesn't love the truth (Christ, John 14:6), they will go to hell (if they don't repent)!