I have said many times over the years that Calvary Chapel is right on when it comes to the inspiration, inerrancy, consistency, and power of the Bible as God’s Word. Fault them wherever else you may, but they encourage their people to read, and believe, the Bible, and that is vitally important. They are to be lauded and commended for this.
But here’s the problem: if you tell folks to believe sola scriptura they will naturally follow on to tota scriptura, which means you will have to be consistent in your teaching and theology. If you embrace human traditions in opposition to biblical truths, you will be “found out” by someone reading the Bible consistently. And that is what happens, over and over again, in the Calvary Chapel movement. The great non-denominational denomination has embraced an anti-sovereignty, anti-Reformed polemic that simply cannot stand up under consistent scrutiny. As a result, people taught by them keep running into passage after passage that seems to be saying the exact opposite of what they are hearing from the pulpit in regards to the sovereignty of God’s grace in salvation. And though the CC leadership does everything it can to “inoculate” its people against these truths, the Word keeps producing truth-lovers instead! My files are filled with e-mails from former Calvary Chapel folks who have seen through the smokescreen and, despite the poisoning of the well, come to understand God’s kingly freedom. I got an e-mail from one last week, and asked if I could share it, from K.W.:
Greetings and blessings!
I’d just like to let you know that your work on reformed theology has been a blessing to me. I have just left the theology of my local Calvary Chapel and have embraced the doctrines of grace.
I listened to your February 9, 2010 episode of “The Dividing Line,” entitled, “Why Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel Produce So Many Calvinists.” I had to laugh, because I (and many others I know) are CC-produced Calvinists, true to your observation.
My particular church tends to look at the doctrines of election and grace as a vague, amorphous blob. I’ve been subjected to a doubtful “pendular” hermeneutic, demanding the following:
#1: When faced with a passage that makes an unequivocal statement regarding soteriology (John 6, Romans 9)…
#2: …Search out a so-called “problem” verse that in no way makes an unequivocal statement regarding the topic (John 3:16, Ezekiel 18:32)…
#3:…Plot each of them as two contradictory extremes that cannot be emphasized by themselves…
#4:…And try to “camp out” somewhere in between the two, doing all you can to confuse people and toss up smoke screens.
As you can imagine, I have been perplexed for the last five years. We have often prided ourselves for “simply teaching the bible simply,” being free from any tradition, and letting the Bible speak for itself.
Well, we haven’t done so. I have a lot of catching up to do regarding this topic, and to be honest, I am still struggling with the shock of accepting what has been presented to me all these years as evil and blasphemous. However, I now know that Christ himself taught these things, and they tend toward wonderful peace and stability.
In short, thank-you for your work! It is not without fruit!
Just as Chosen But Free has produced a small army of Calvinists simply due to its incredibly poor argumentation (and ease of refutation!), so too any continued promotion of consistent, believing Bible reading will keep producing folks who see, and bow, to God’s sovereignty.