Calvary Chapel's logo
|Founder||Chuck Smith (1927-2013)|
|Type||fellowship of evangelical Protestant churches|
|Headquarters||Costa Mesa, California|
Calvary Chapel, an association of evangelical Christian churches, maintains a number of radio stations around the world and operates many local Calvary Chapel Bible College programs. It presents itself as a "fellowship of churches" in contrast to a denomination, and includes over one thousand congregations worldwide.[failed verification] Churches that affiliate with Calvary Chapel may use the name "Calvary Chapel" but need not do so.
Beginning in 1965 in Southern California, this fellowship of churches grew out of Chuck Smith's Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Doctrinally, Calvary Chapel is evangelical, charismatic, and pretribulationist, and maintains the principle of sola scriptura.
Chuck Smith's "Calvary Chapel Distinctives" summarize the tenets for which Calvary Chapel stands. Calvary Chapels place great importance on the practice of expository teaching, a "verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book" approach to teaching the Bible. Typically, Calvary Chapels operate under a senior pastor-led system of church government, sometimes referred to[by whom?] as the "Moses" model.
In November 2016 two new Calvary Chapel networks began side by side: Calvary Chapel Global Network and Calvary Chapel Association. Most Calvary Chapels remain affiliated with both Calvary Chapel Association and Calvary Chapel Global Network. However the leaders' churches of each network have each been erased from the other's church-locator map.
While Chuck Smith was still a member of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, he reported a prophecy came to him in which the Lord said to him that He was changing his name. His new name would mean "Shepherd" because the Lord was going to make him the shepherd of many flocks and the church would not be large enough to hold all of the people who would be flocking to hear the Word of God. In December 1965, Smith became the pastor of a 25-person evangelical congregation. In 1968, the church broke away from the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Santa Ana, California. Before Smith became their pastor, twelve of the 25 members attended a prayer meeting about whether or not to close their church: they reported that "the Holy Spirit spoke to them through prophecy" and told them that Smith would become their pastor, that he would want to elevate the platform area, that God would bless the church, that it would go on the radio, that the church would become overcrowded, and that he would become known throughout the world.
An almost identical prophecy was recorded in Smith's book Harvest where the prophecy was delivered to 16 discouraged people ready to quit. In 1969, Calvary Chapel became a hub in what later became known as the Jesus movement when Smith's daughter introduced him to her boyfriend John Higgins Jr., a former hippie who had become a Christian, and who went on to head the largest Jesus Freak movement in history, the Shiloh Youth Revival Centers. John Higgins introduced Smith to Lonnie Frisbee, the "hippie evangelist" who became a key figure in the growth of both the Jesus Movement and in Calvary Chapel. Frisbee moved into Smith's home, and he would minister to the other hippies and counter-culture youth on the beaches. At night he would bring home new converts and soon Smith's house was full. Frisbee was put in charge of a new rental home for the steadily growing crowd of Christian hippies and he named the commune House of Miracles; other House of Miracles would be set up throughout California and beyond. As Calvary Chapel grew "explosively", a tent was erected while a new building was under construction.
Among the converts were musicians who now were writing music for praise and worship. This became the genesis for Jesus music and Christian rock concerts. Maranatha! Music was eventually formed to publish and promote the music. The services usually resembled rock concerts more than any worship services of the time. Frisbee was featured in national television news reports and magazines with images of him baptizing hundreds in the Pacific Ocean at a time. The network of House of Miracles communes/crash pad/coffee houses began doing outreach concerts with Smith or Frisbee preaching, Frisbee calling forth the Holy Spirit and the newly forming bands playing the music. By the early 1970s Calvary Chapel was home to ten or more musical groups that were representative of the Jesus people movement.
In 1982, John Wimber, a Calvary Chapel pastor, and the Calvary Chapel leadership mutually agreed to part ways. Tension had been mounting over Wimber's emphasis on spiritual manifestations leading Wimber to withdraw from Calvary Chapel and affiliate with a network of churches that would become the Association of Vineyard Churches.
On October 3, 2013, Pastor Smith died after a long battle with lung cancer. Smith remained as the senior pastor at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa during his battle with cancer, to include preaching at three services the Sunday before his death.
Affiliates of Calvary Chapel believe in the fundamental doctrines of evangelical Christianity, which include the inerrancy of the Bible and the Trinity. Within evangelical Christianity, they say that they stand in the "middle ground between fundamentalism and Pentecostalism in modern Protestant theology". While they share with fundamentalism a belief in the inerrancy of the Bible, unlike fundamentalists, they accept spiritual gifts. However, they feel that Pentecostalism values experience at the expense of the word of God.
According to Calvary Chapel literature, the association strives to "strik[e] a balance between extremes" when it comes to controversial theological issues such as Calvinism's and Arminianism's conflicting views on salvation. Calvary Chapels hold the following views on the five points of Calvinism:
Although Calvary Chapel believes in the continuing efficacy of the gift of tongues, it does not recognize uninterpreted tongues spoken in a congregational setting as necessarily inspired (or at least directed) by the Holy Spirit because of its understanding of 1 Corinthians 14. Calvary Chapel accepts that the Bible affirms interpreted tongues and modern prophecy. Practicing tongues in private occurs more commonly. Calvary Chapel does not teach that the outward manifestation of every Christian counts as speaking in tongues. Instead, the movement's theologians regard speaking in tongues as one of the many gifts of the Spirit and see believers as blessed as the Spirit moves.
Similar to other Pentecostal or Charismatic movements, Calvary Chapel holds that the baptism of the Holy Spirit does not take place during conversion, but is available as a second experience. It is their understanding that there are three distinct relationships with the Holy Spirit. The first is that which is experienced prior to conversion. In this relationship the Holy Spirit is convicting the person of his sin. In the second relationship the Holy Spirit indwells believers during conversion for the purpose of sanctification. The third relationship is the baptism of the Holy Spirit which Calvary Chapel believes is for the purpose of being a Christian witness.
Calvary Chapels practice believer's baptism by immersion. Calvary Chapel does not regard baptism as necessary for salvation, but instead sees it as an outward sign of an inward change. As a result, the Chapels do not baptize infants, although they may dedicate them to God. Calvary Chapel views Communion in a symbolic way, with reference to 1 Corinthians 11:23–26.
Calvary Chapels strongly espouse pretribulationist and premillennialist views in their eschatology (the study of the end times). They believe that the rapture of the Church will occur first, followed by a literal seven-year period of Great Tribulation, followed by the second coming of Jesus Christ, and then finally a literal thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on earth called the Millennial Kingdom. Calvary Chapel also rejects supersessionism and instead believes that the Jews remain God's chosen people and that Israel will play an important part in the end times.
Interest in one event during the Tribulation—the building of a Third Temple in Jerusalem—led in the early 1980s to associations between some in Calvary Chapel (including Chuck Smith) and Jewish groups interested in seeing the temple rebuilt.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Chuck Smith wrote and published a prophetic timeline that declared the imminent return of Christ.
In the book Snatched Away!, published in 1976, Smith wrote:
In a 1978 book, Smith wrote:
I believe that the generation of 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the Tribulation period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for His Church any time before the Tribulation starts, which would mean any time before 1981.
The reasoning had to do with the idea that the seven-year Tribulation would end in 1988, forty years after the establishment of the state of Israel. In his 1978 book, Smith reasoned that Halley's Comet in 1986 would result in problems for those left behind:
The Lord said that towards the end of the Tribulation period the sun would scorch men who dwell upon the face of the earth (Rev. 16). The year 1986 would fit just about right! We’re getting close to the Tribulation and the return of Christ in glory. All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together.
Calvary Chapel pastors tend to prefer expositional sermons rather than topical ones, and they will often give their sermons sequentially from the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. They believe that expository preaching allows the congregation to learn how all parts of the Bible address issues as opposed to topical sermons which they see as allowing preachers to emphasize certain issues more than others. Another advantage, they say, is that it makes difficult topics easier to address because members of the congregation won't feel like they are being singled out. It sees expository teaching as providing consistent teaching that, over time, brings the "perfecting of the saints" which is part of their general philosophy for the Church. In teaching expositorily through scripture sequentially, Calvary Chapel believes God sets the agenda, not the pastor.
Calvary Chapels believe that most churches have a "dependent, highly organized, [and] structured" environment, but that most people want an "independent and casual way of life". Calvary churches typically have a casual and laid-back atmosphere. As a practical implication of this philosophy, people may wear street clothes to church. Praise and worship usually consists of upbeat contemporary Christian music though many of the churches also play hymns. The style of worship generally reflects the region and the specific make-up of the congregation.
Calvary Chapel does not have a formalized system of church membership. Calling a Calvary Chapel one's church usually means regularly attending church services and becoming involved in fellowship with other "members" of the church.
The form of church government practiced by Calvary Chapel does not conform to any of the three historical forms. They do not employ congregational polity, believing that God's people collectively made poor decisions in the Old Testament, citing Exodus 16:2 as an example. They also criticize presbyterian polity because when "the pastor is hired by the board and can be fired by the board," they fear that "the pastor becomes a hireling". Although Calvary Chapel's governance shares a similarity with episcopal polity in that the congregation has no direct authority over the pastor, it does not have the formal hierarchy characteristic of episcopal polity.
The majority of Calvary Chapels have adopted models of government based on their understanding of the theocracy that God established in the Old Testament they sometimes call the "Moses model". In this system, God was head of his people and under God's authority was Moses, who led the Israelites as God directed him. Moses also had a priesthood and seventy elders providing him support. Calvary Chapel has adapted this order believing their pastors have a role like Moses and their boards of elders function in supporting roles.
Calvary Chapels are independent and self-governing churches. They do not have church membership apart from pastors recognized through their affiliate program. The Calvary Chapel Association has the responsibility of affiliating churches with Calvary Chapel. A church that affiliates with Calvary Chapel often (but not always) uses the name "Calvary Chapel". Three requirements for becoming affiliated exist:
The requirements do not include a seminary degree. In accordance with Calvary's interpretation and understanding of the Bible (see 1 Timothy 3:2 and 1 Timothy 3:12), Calvary Chapel does not ordain women or homosexuals as pastors.
The Calvary Chapel trademark is owned by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, the flagship church of the Calvary Chapel Global Network. The Calvary dove logo is also a "trademark-protected property of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa."
Various criticisms of the organization and of the pastorate role in the organization exist. For example, journalist David Templeton described intense peer pressure during his time as an active participant in Calvary Chapel ministry. Chuck Smith has been criticized for drawing connections between disasters (e.g., earthquakes, the September 11 attacks) and divine wrath against homosexuality and abortion.
Calvary Chapel leaders, including Smith, were the subject of a lawsuit alleging that they knew or should have known that a minister named Anthony Iglesias was prone to sexual abuse when they moved him from ministry positions in Diamond Bar, California, to Thailand, to Post Falls, Idaho. Iglesias was convicted of lewd conduct with two 14-year-old boys in California in 2004, and the lawsuit stemmed from events in Idaho, but all alleged abuse occurred in or before 2003.
The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice as of September 18, 2012.
As a result of what he saw as micromanaging church elders and board members, Chuck Smith used "an independent board of elders" when he took the senior pastor role at Calvary Chapel. Smith subsequently wrote that "senior pastors should be answerable to God, not to a denominational hierarchy or board of elders". Christianity Today says that Smith's "Moses Model", in which senior pastors do not permit their authority to be challenged, can lead to churches that are often resistant to accountability. In response, Smith says he is following the authority structure that God used when Israel was under the rule of Moses.
According to one article, "Smith's book Calvary Chapel Distinctives teaches that senior pastors should be answerable to God, not to a denominational hierarchy or board of elders." Critics say this 'Moses model' produces pastors who do not permit their authority be challenged. Calvary Chapel suggests that some churches are led astray by the management of their boards and that a biblical board of elders should aid the ministry and give wise counsel, not control the affairs of the church.
Calvary Chapel Bible College (CCBC) is located in Murrieta, California. The school also has at least 50 affiliated campuses throughout the world. Founded in 1975, it originally offered a "short, intensive study program", but it subsequently became a two-year school which awards Certificates of Completion, Associate in Theology degrees (for high-school graduates), and Bachelor of Biblical Studies degrees (to students who have an Associate of Arts from an approved college). The college as a whole does not have accreditation, but students can transfer CCBC credits to some major accredited colleges such as Azusa Pacific. The college does not seek accreditation, stating that this allows Calvary Chapel to keep the cost of tuition lower and offer courses taught by pastors who do not have master's degrees.
Harvest Crusades operate as a ministry of Harvest Christian Fellowship (a Calvary Chapel in Riverside, California). They carry out an evangelistic ministry similar to Billy Graham's. They meet in stadiums and have Christian music bands play followed by an evangelical message normally given by Greg Laurie. They estimate three million people have attended since its inception in 1990.
Calvary Chapel churches operate several radio stations, including:
In addition, a Calvary Chapel in Twin Falls, Idaho founded the CSN International (originally known as the "Calvary Satellite Network") and Effect Radio networks; though CSN still carries a significant number of programs from several Calvary Chapels, the networks and the church (subsequently known by the name "The River Christian Fellowship") severed their official ties with the Calvary Chapel as part of a 2007 legal settlement. Another splinter group of stations in the midwestern United States, the Calvary Radio Network, split off from Calvary Chapel in 2010.
There are over three hundred congregations around the country - and the world - that maintain a loose association or fellowship.
Rev. Chuck Smith [...] also spawned a host of other Calvary chapel congregations, all mildly charismatic and completely evangelical.
We are not a denominational church, nor are we opposed to denominations as such, only their over-emphasis of the doctrinal differences that have led to the division of the Body of Christ.
Smith was not attempting to create a denomination; rather, what emerged was a loose fellowship of like-minded people.... Asked about what is preventing the a movement the size of Calvary Chapel, Smith emphatically answers, 'Me,' and then clarifies how a relationally based movement was ensured 'by being fiercely independent and implanting this independence in them [the offspring churches]; by each of them incorporating independently; by not requiring reports; by keeping the affiliation [of churches] just a very loose affiliation.' He states that there are no requirements, no calls, no letters from headquarters, unless there are major deviations from Calvary Chapel philosophy, at which point there might be a call from 'Dad' to inquire what is going on. Calvary Chapel doctrine, if it can be called that, is simple. On many points there can be diversity of opinion so long as the centrality of scripture is maintained, along with such fundamental Christian beliefs as the deity of Christ and the resurrection of Jesus.
The trademark of the doctrine of Chuck Smith and all Calvary Chapels is their verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible.
Another primary distinctive of Calvary Chapel is our endeavor to declare the whole counsel of God.
For the most part, the teaching ministry of Calvary Chapel is expositional in style.
As [senior] pastors, we need to be like Moses, in touch with Jesus and receiving His direction and guidance.
It's necessary to have godly men who recognize that God has called and ordained you as the pastor of the church. Men who will work with you and support those things that god is directing you, as the pastor, to implement within the church.
While the tiny group at Calvary Chapel was praying about closing the church and not knowing what to do, the Holy Spirit spoke to them through prophecy. He said that He would lay a burden upon the heart of Chuck Smith to come and pastor. The Spirit said that Smith wouldn't be happy with the church building. He would want to remodel it immediately, the platform area and all. God would bless the church and it would go on the radio. The church would become overcrowded. They would have to move to new quarters on the bluff overlooking the bay. And the church would become known throughout the world.
Using contemporary instrumentation similar to what one might hear at a rock concert, these groups have written lyrics that express their perception of an encounter with Jesus.
We believe that all are sinners (Romans 3:23) and unable by human performance to earn, deserve, or merit salvation (Titus 3:5). We believe that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and that apart from God's grace, no one can be saved (Ephesians 2:8–9). We believe that none are righteous, or capable of doing good (Romans 3:10–12), and that apart from the conviction and regeneration of the Holy Spirit, none can be saved (John 1:12–13; 16:8–11; I Peter 1:23–25). Mankind is clearly fallen and lost in sin.
We believe that God chose the believer before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4–6), and based on His foreknowledge, has predestined the believer to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29–30). We believe that God offers salvation to all who will call on His name. Romans 10:13 says, "For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." We also believe that God calls to Himself those who will believe in His Son, Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 1:9). However, the Bible also teaches that an invitation (or call) is given to all, but that only a few will accept it. We see this balance throughout scripture. Revelation 22:17 states, "And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." I Peter 1:2 tells us we are, "elect according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Matthew 22:14 says, "For many are called, but few are chosen (elected)." God clearly does choose, but man must also accept God's invitation to salvation.
We believe that Jesus Christ died as a propitiation (a satisfaction of the righteous wrath of God against sin) "for the whole world" (I John 2:2; 4:9–10), and that He redeems and forgives all who will believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as their only hope of salvation from sin, death, and hell (Ephesians 1:7; I Peter 1:18–19). We believe that eternal life is a gift of God (Romans 6:23), and that "whosoever believeth" in Jesus Christ will not perish, but will have eternal life (John 3:16–18). I Timothy 4:10 says "we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe." Hebrews 2:9 states that Jesus, "was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ was clearly sufficient to save the entire human race.
In Stephen's message in Acts 7:51, he concluded by saying, "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye." In Romans 10:21, the apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 65:2 when he speaks of God's words to Israel, "All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people." In one of the five warning passages of the book of Hebrews, we read in Hebrews 10:26, "For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." Verse 29 adds, "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" Clearly, God's grace can either be resisted or received by the exercise of human free will.
We believe that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 8:38–39), and that there is no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1). We believe that the promise of Jesus in John 10:27–28 is clear: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." Jesus said in John 6:37, "him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." We have this assurance in Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." We believe that the Holy Spirit has sealed us unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13–14; 4:30). But we also are deeply concerned over the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21–23
We believe that there is an experience of the empowering of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer that is distinct and separate from the indwelling of the Spirit that takes place at conversion.
We believe that the Holy Spirit is dwelling with a person prior to conversion. He is the One convicting him of his sin, convincing him that Jesus Christ is the only answer.
So we see the dynamic power of the Spirit in us which comes when we accept Jesus. He begins that work in us of transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ.
According to one source, [Stanley] Goldfoot was the one to establish the contacts, which became vital since the 1990s, between the Temple Mount Faithful and its Christian supporters (Kol HaIr 13 October 1995: 44–49). In the early 1980s, Chuck Smith, a noted evangelist and minister of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, one of the largest and most dynamic Charismatic churches in America (on Smith, see Miller), invited Stanley Goldfoot to lecture in his church, and Smith's followers helped to finance Goldfoot's activity. Chuck Smith's involvement in the rebuilding of the Temple is demonstrative of the constituency of Christians interested in the Temple and the prospect of its rebuilding.
Jesus taught us that the generation which sees the "budding of the fig tree," the birth of the nation Israel, will be the generation that sees the Lord's return. I believe that the generation of 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the Tribulation period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for His Church any time before the Tribulation starts, which would mean anytime before 1981. (1948+40+7=1981)
Topical sermons are good, and they have their place, but when you're preaching topically, you're prone by nature to preach only those topics that you like.... If you're only preaching topically, you may also tend to avoid controversial or difficult topics, and the people won't gain a well-balanced view of God's truth.
Another advantage of teaching the whole counsel of God is that when you come to difficult issues that deal with problems in an individual's life or within the Church body, you can address them straightforwardly. we need not worry about people thinking, 'Oh, he's aiming at me today.' People in the congregation know that it's simply the passage of Scripture being studied that day. So it can't be, 'Oh man, he's really picking on me," because they realize that you're going straight through the Book, and you're not jumping from topic to topic. We're just going straight through the entire Word of God. Another advantage, they say, is that it makes difficult topics easier to address because members of the congregation won't feel like they are being singled out.
...pastors and congregants alike favor informal attire...
We are not accredited, nor are we seeking accreditation, so as to be free from outside control and remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We desire to continue in our independent standing so as not to compromise the integrity of the vision or direction the Lord has given to CCBC. We believe that the credibility of CCBC is not in accreditation, but in the fruitfulness and surrendered lives of the students who have attended.
Lonnie left after about four years as Calvary's unofficial youth pastor and, after a brief time in the Shepherding movement, wound up at the soon-to-become Vineyard Church of Yorba Linda.
Skip, along with Lenya and their son, moved back to California in January 2004 to serve as Senior Pastor at Ocean Hills Community Church in San Juan Capistrano. Skip served in this capacity until July 2006, when he and Lenya returned to Albuquerque to once again serve as Senior Pastor at Calvary of Albuquerque.