Calvary Chapel’s founder recently announced that he is completely at peace after being diagnosed with cancer.
California-based Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa announced Sunday that its senior pastor, Chuck Smith, is suffering from Stage 3 lung cancer (see earlier story). The longtime preacher and icon in the Jesus movement shocked congregants with the announcement January 1. He is expected to have surgery this month.
Read the rest of the story here: http://www.onenewsnow.com/Church/Default.aspx?id=1512432
Commentary (by Alex):
It’s confirmed that Chuck Smith has stage 3 lung cancer. The life expectancy at Chuck’s advanced age is pretty short a year or so at best. Our prayers are with Chuck and his family.
I won’t play Political Correctness and sweep the other stuff under the rug, but I don’t wish this on Chuck or his family or his followers. I still find the timing ironic only because Chuck and many others who follow him in Calvary Chapel embrace, practice and teach the doctrine of Divine Retribution:
From Christianity Today’s article: Day of Reckoning: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/march/7.53.html?start=3
Other churchgoers say Calvary Chapel pastors also don’t like to be questioned. During the investigation for this article, [Chuck] Smith cautioned CT’s reporter: “The Lord warns, ‘Don’t touch my anointed. Do my prophet no harm.’ I think that you are trying to do harm to the work of God. I surely wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.”
Unfortunately, in my in-person “Meeting” with Chuck Smith, Dave Rolph and Chuck’s attorney Janet Carter, I received the same or similar warning and was told I was “tearing down a work of the Lord!” etc.
The articulation above by Chuck Smith and his history of ascribing tragedy to “God’s Judgment” on those who have challenged him or Calvary Chapel is legendary (many many instances of this).
Here is the audio (in a youtube vid) of Chuck’s “Divine Retribution” in action (against me) from the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa Pulpit just prior to his diagnosis:
[Correction of Chuck's words above: I called him and initiated our meeting, not Chuck...and the blog is not "all lies" etc. It's important to note that Chuck stated that "God would take care of it (me) and that Chuck could only hurt me a little, but the Lord, well the Lord would really well you know...and that Chuck is glad he has the Lord on his side. Classic "Divine Retribution" stuff, though a little more subtle than the Christianity Today reporter's warning and other examples, but still a clear example.]
Bob Grenier, Calvary Chapel Visalia, practices the same Doctrine taught and exampled by Chuck. I personally witnessed this mindset, this rhetoric and this application many many times growing up behind the scenes as a Calvary Chapel PK (Pastor’s Kid).
Those who challenge the Senior CC Pastor and/or Calvary Chapel are marked “enemies” and “of the devil” etc. And, they are warned “Touch not God’s anointed” and examples are often given to illustrate tragedy that has befallen others (i.e. one critic died, one reporter’s son committed suicide, Greg Laurie’s son died in a car crash not long after Greg broke into the Orange County Market and former Insiders share first-person testimony that Chuck Smith and others within Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa attributed the son’s tragic death to God dealing with Greg).
Intellectually, I find Chuck Smith’s Doctrine of “Divine Retribution” to be sketchy at best and downright sinful at worst.
We can find the example of Ananias and Saphira in the New Testament…but not much else. In the Old Testament (and Past Dispensation…for the Dispies among us) the Principle seemed to apply. God would deal with the enemies of the Nation of Israel and the enemies of God’s Prophets…and God would deal with the Nation of Israel and bring judgment upon them when they wouldn’t repent.
However, in the New Testament, we don’t see this principle in place outside of Ananias and Saphira and in their context it was two people claiming a religious act of worship, yet lying to God and others about it (say, like a Preacher and/or Leader of Movement being untruthful about who is righteous in a particular situation and covering up much sin, abuse and corruption in his Camp? Dunno…).
I will say that if Chuck Smith is right about the Doctrine of Divine Retribution…that God sometimes does deal with those who “Touch His anointed”…then it would seem appropriate to consider that Chuck’s tragedy…if one ascribes to his Doctrinal Position with regards to this principle…says something.
If Chuck’s take on Divine Retribution is false (and I believe it most likely is and just a manipulative tool he and Bob Grenier and others in Calvary Chapel use to intimidate and keep the faithful faithful) then it is ironic that Chuck Smith warns me from the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa Pulpit about how God can really deal with me, while Chuck can only hurt me a little…and that God is on Chuck’s side, implying I am on the side of the devil.
I hope Chuck and others who follow him will learn a lesson from all of this. Be more gracious. Don’t keep practicing the knee-jerk Calvary Chapel reaction to mark people infidels and enemies from the devil and don’t call down God’s judgment on them and infer they are on the side of the devil and that God will get them…when they question you, challenge you and call your b.s. (and lying, etc.).
I frankly think that Chuck Smith’s health tragedy is likely coincidence and the result of old age…however, make no mistake, had I come down with lung cancer after Chuck’s fatwa on me from the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa Pulpit…you can carve it on stone tablets that Chuck Smith, Bob Grenier and other Chuck-ites would have said, “See told you so! God GOT him!”
Chuck Smith will die soon. The Calvary Chapel Movement will be in much turmoil after Chuck’s passing (and the pending Lawsuit by the four boys who were molested in the Calvary Chapel System is still moving along in the Court System and other suits are coming). My hope is that the PR and “Positive Only” Spin that is sure to dominate the communication landscape when Chuck croaks, is somewhat balanced out by calling out the truth and realities of the bad stuff that makes up Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel’s Legacy as well. Not for revenge, but so some can learn from history and the “good” Calvary Chapel guys can continue the “good” parts of CC…while leaving the bad stuff behind (and unfortunately there will be many bad CC pastors to carry on the tradition of bad stuff as well).
Calvary Chapel as we knew it is no more. The Transition has begun and the Legacy is being written. There is Good, Bad and Ugly. God help us to embrace the good, while calling out and not repeating the bad and the ugly.