Many people have been blessed and edified by the teaching and fellowship in Calvary Chapel church organizations. Many people have testified to being saved at Calvary Chapel music concerts. I rejoice when Christ is preached. Even though there is a lot of good that people can point to about the “Calvary Chapel Movement”, no organization, movement, institution, or individual, can be beyond critique. It is a cult-like mentality that says that all criticism or all dissent is division; or that anyone who criticizes a leader or an institution is necessarily a divisive person.
Most people do not realize that Calvary Chapel church organizations are not, themselves, affiliated with the original Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California. It is the clergymen who are affiliated. They submit a request to become affiliated and then are supplied with a form to fill out. The form contains many questions about doctrine and philosophy of ministry. The form is submitted along with the recommendations of other Calvary Chapel clergymen. If the staff at Costa Mesa accepts the person, he becomes an affiliated clergyman in a global network led by Chuck Smith.
Chuck Smith is the founder of the mega-church, Calvary Chapel, in Costa Mesa, California. He exerts influence throughout the system via audio tapes, videos, radio programs, a website, printed material, and regular “Pastor’s Conferences” in different regions of the country. Clergymen who have served on the Calvary Costa Mesa staff go on, in many cases, to have congregations of their own. Many of these have become mega-churches in their own right.
I believe the Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached by most of the Calvary Chapel clergymen. There is much sound Bible teaching that followers of Jesus can benefit from. But it is of grave concern that this network of clergymen are taught to see themselves as having the mantle of Moses over their congregations. Most people who attend Calvary Chapels only see the presentation on Sunday mornings and are never in a position to experience the direct effects of this Moses Authoritarian approach.
Calvary Chapel clergy are given many
opportunities to learn the philosophy of leadership taught by Chuck Smith. There
are certain classic audio tapes that are distributed among the clergy. There is
also a booklet called, “THE PHILOSOPHY OF MINISTRY OF CALVARY CHAPEL” by Chuck
Smith. In this booklet, which can also be found online, Chuck Smith teaches that
a Calvary Chapel should be ruled similar to how Moses ruled over the people of
“As a theocracy, God established
the nation of Israel, but He called Moses to be the earthly leader over the
nation, and God, through Moses, led the people. Moses was the recognized
instrument of God in leading the people. When things became too heavy for Moses,
the responsibilities too great, he gathered seventy of the elders of Israel,
representatives from the twelve tribes, and the Spirit of God, Who was upon
Moses, came upon them also. And they began to rule with Moses.
"However, there were times when
the people would bring an issue to one of the elders that they were not able to
resolve. In that case the issue was then brought to Moses and Moses, in turn,
went to God and God gave Moses the answer to the problem. Reversing the process,
Moses would then pass the answer to the elders, who passed it to the people.
"Also, under Moses' charge was
Aaron and the priesthood from the tribe of Levi who oversaw the spiritual
aspects of the nation. As the elders were overseeing the legal and business
squabbles and differences of the people, the priests were overseeing the
spiritual aspects of the people."
In order to illustrate Chuck Smith’s teaching on
“Moses”-style authority he provides a graphic.
"The following is a diagram of
the type of government God established with His nation Israel, and a diagram of
what Calvary Chapel understands as the New Testament counterpart as God's
government for the church:
"We feel that this is the form of
government God desires for His church: Jesus Christ is the head of the body, the
church; He established the episkopas or bishop, who we call the pastor, who is
responsible to Jesus and whom must recognize and bear the responsibility to
guide and to direct the ministry of the local church, guided directly by Jesus
Christ. Under the pastor, in some cases, you have the assistant pastors,
equivalent to the priests under Moses' rule.
"You also have a board of elders.
The board of elders discuss and decide the business aspects of the church, the
spending of the church funds, the requests for help that they have from various
missionary groups, and ministries."
In this same booklet Chuck Smith goes on to emphasize just
how far this Moses Authoritarianism goes in Calvary Chapels.
"The man who was in charge of the Korean fellowship at our church is a medical doctor. He did not get any salary for his ministry to the Koreans. He makes his living as a pediatrician and an allergist. The Korean fellowship was growing quite large, so they said, "We really need to get a board established for the Korean fellowship." So, the man appointed board members and asked me to come to the service that I might lay hands on these men that he had chosen for his board, and I did. The very same week that we laid hands on these men and prayed for them and appointed them as board members, they had a meeting and asked the pastor to resign. They said, "Either give up your medical practice or resign as the pastor. We feel that we need a full-time pastor and your medical practice is taking you away from your ministry here." The man was devastated; he didn't know what to do. So he asked me what I thought. I said, "Fire the board. God has called you to pastor that fellowship; the board didn't call you to pastor it. Let them go." So, we ordained them one week, and defrocked them the next. That's just one of the problems you can run into if you haven't really prayed together and really know the men who are serving on the board with you."
In these last days, it is extremely dangerous to follow religious leaders who are convinced that they have the authority of Moses over the Body of Christ. This is the essence of the Priesthood. This is the essence of a Papal system. This is the basis for many coercive and blasphemous cults. To repeat what I say in the article, ���The Moses Cults”, many religious groups exercise unbiblical control over their people. They are authoritarian cults. Often there is a single leader around whose personality the religious group revolves. One way that such power and control is justified is by stating or implying that the leader has assumed the mantle of Moses. They teach that the leader is called to exercise similar authority among the people as Moses' authority among Israel.
This is the pattern in the Mormon Church, the Unification Church (Moonies), and was the pattern in Jim Jones’, The Peoples’ Temple.
But it is more than just coercive control of the people to assume the mantle of Moses. For any man to presume to take upon himself the mantle of Moses is not only a possible sign of an authoritarian cult, but it is blasphemy. God's Word clearly teaches that Moses was intended to be a type of Christ, NOT of modern day religious leaders.
The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
As I said at the beginning of this article, many people have been blessed and edified by the teaching and fellowship in Calvary Chapel church organizations. Many people have testified to being saved at Calvary Chapel music concerts. I rejoice when Christ is preached. But we ought to fellowship with one another according to God's Word, not anyone's traditions. And regardless of the outer trappings of an organization, there will always be trouble and perhaps serious deception eventually when a human leader raises himself above his brethren in unbiblical authority.
"But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
|Jon Courson: Applegate Christian Fellowship|
|Counterfeit Christs: Is your pastor a one-man show?|
|THE PHILOSOPHY OF MINISTRY OF CALVARY CHAPEL|
|Calvary Chapel - A Critique|
|The Pilgrim Church|