How It Is That I Turned Away From Calvary Chapel

Posted by Michael La Framboise on Monday, October 17, 2016 Under: Meditations
Anyone who knows me, knows what an integral part the ministry of Calvary Chapel has played in my Christian life, and it is a fact of my spiritual evolution that I would never wish to underestimate or undervalue. Back in 1998, it was the voice of Pastor Bob Coy which cried out to me in the wilderness and set me once more on the path of the Lord. Through his radio ministry I was introduced to Calvary Chapel, and eventually I found Chuck Smith whose ministry was extremely influential upon my life. In 2001 he even baptized my wife. Other Calvary pastors became very dear to me as well, namely, David Rosales, Damien Kyle, Dwight Douville, Jon Courson, Ray Bentley, Brian Brodersen, and, of course, Chuck  Missler. I devoured the teachings of these men and others through their sermons and their books. Eventually I was inspired to enter the ministry myself, as I felt the call of God upon me to take up the mantle of the pastorate as my father and grandfather before me.

As the years went by, however, I became more and more disenchanted with what I came to realize was a pastoral echo chamber. This was made clear to me by two examples which truly shocked me to my Calvary core! First, anyone who has heard very many sermons by Chuck Smith, let alone sermons by his many imitators, has doubtless come across his claim, based upon Alexander Hislop’s assertions, that the name Easter has its origin in the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. When I ventured to source this claim beyond Hislop’s century-old conclusions, I quickly discovered that there was no agreement on the matter.  Furthermore, other sources thought it to be a fully Christian term that developed uniquely in Anglo-Saxon areas. This awakened me to the problem of the copycat nature of way too many Calvary pastors.

The second incident involved the “to the day” prophecy of Daniel 9. Again, anyone who has ever listened to Chuck Smith, or his junior choir of uneducated and uncritical imitators, has heard the fascinating calculation of the 69 weeks of Daniel’s prophecy which adds up to 173,880 days, and based on a particular start date, brings one to April 6, AD 32- The very day Jesus Christ presented Himself to Israel as their Messiah! All of this research and calculation is credited to Sir Robert Anderson who was knighted for his labors. As I approached this passage to teach it myself I discovered that the very book which I purchased at the Calvary Chapel bookstore (The Coming Prince by Anderson) included a footnote describing an error made by the be-knighted author which damages the final date of the prophetic calculation as heralded by every Calvary Chapel pastor. The prophecy still works out to the year, but it cannot be forced to point out a day. Was I the first Calvary guy in the history of Calvary Chapel to ever read the footnote?!

Then Pastor Chuck died in 2013. I mourned as so many. And then Brian Brodersen was voted as their new pastor, which I whole heartedly endorsed. Then Brian and his wife went to court with her siblings for the rights to The Word For Today…what?! I was naturally drawn to support Brian, until the court deciding the case revealed Chuck’s express wishes concerning the matter. Chuck Smith’s wishes, as prescribed in his will, were being directly opposed! Then I recently noticed how Brian has inserted a claim on the Costa Mesa website insisting that the reason he originally left England to return to Calvary Costa Mesa was due to Chuck’s express wish to prepare him as his successor. A claim that I believe is new to everyone who has followed this ministry, and a claim which is directly contradicted by Paul Smith, Chuck’s brother. How can it be that Chuck would have kept this such a secret. As I said, I was pleased to see Brian voted as the new pastor, and believed him to be the true successor; however I cannot help my disappointment in his decision-making in his first 3 years of leadership.

Then, in 2014, Pastor Bob Coy fell, and I watched in horror at the devilish behavior of one of his assistant pastors who publicly belched out all of his sins for the world to hear, even though Bob had already resigned and was said to be seeking restoration with his family. The church had already announced Bob’s resignation for “moral failure.” There was no need whatsoever for a man to stand at another man’s pulpit and shame him further in front of the church he had founded. Rarely have I ever seen such self-righteous piggishness, let alone from the pulpit; I was indignant!

Then came all the infighting about the ridiculous Calvary Chapel Association, and who was in charge where and how and why! This eventually led to Pastor Dwight Douville of Appleton, Wisconsin being forced out of Calvary Chapel and disassociated from the movement by the California leadership. He wrote to the main Calvary Chapel Association leadership to question some of the very “un-Calvary-like” conduct he was seeing in the movement, and to express his dismay at the creation of what very much appeared to be a denominational headship. In response, his church was summarily dismissed from the official Calvary roll, and he was removed from his position as head of the Great Lakes region. I smell a great and necessary schism brewing indeed. As was delineated at The Great Lakes Prophecy conference held at the newly besmirched Calvary Chapel Appleton last May, the split is between those who will hold to the true distinctives of Calvary Chapel as taught by Pastor Chuck, and those who wish to expand Calvary’s reach by downplaying controversial aspects such as prophecy teaching and afterglows. I must confess both my sorrow and surprise at this. I truly thought Calvary was made of sterner stuff.

The removal of Dwight Douville was the last straw for me. I sat under Dwight’s ministry briefly when I lived in Wisconsin. He is a true man of God, and I cannot consider myself part of movement which considers Pastor Dwight to be worthy of removal and denigrates his wonderful ministry. When this news came to me, I removed all mention of Calvary Chapel from my website.

I do not wish to be associated with a movement that is abandoning the fundamental philosophy which gave it its initial strength.
I do not wish to be associated with a movement which abhors diversity in favor of uniformity.
I do not wish to be associated with a Church that disrespects the pastoral leadership of its own.
I do not wish to be associated with a movement that praises its own echo chamber and decries proper theology and true biblical scholarship.
I do not wish to be associated with a movement that has gotten swept up it’s own mega-church mentality, and has swallowed the poison pill of Laodicean church-building in the form of satellite campuses and video screen pastors.

It is with fond memories and bitter developments that I leave the movement which has meant so much to my family and me.

Yet, it is also with renewed vigor that I move forward in my own ministry before the Lord, as I will soon explain. Stay Tuned!

In : Meditations 

Tags: calvary chapel  brian brodersen  dwight douville  echo chamber  chuck smith  appleton  why i turned away 
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