Hey, what’s up. Hope you’ve been well.
Me? Been a little disillusioned and pretty much questioning the faith, the “Church” our System and pretty much just pissed off in general over how easy it is for guys like Bob Grenier (my step-dad and my former pastor at Calvary Chapel Visalia) to get away with their bullshit and to actually turn the tables on those they’ve wronged. I accept this garbage in Business and Politics…I have had a hard time accepting that an active, present “God” would allow it to happen in the “church” and by those who claim “special anointing” etc without him opening a sink-hole and swallowing them into the bowels of the planet.
I’m a life-long student of humanity (until I croak or go insane or go vegetable) and I’ve learned a TON in the last few years about homo sapiens (not to be confused with homo erectus…not to be confused with an excited George Takei…”Oh my!”).
Here’s what I’m learning: The Mafia is smarter than you think. They understand (and leverage) humanness. Politics, Business, Religion/Church: It’s about “loyalty”, influence, building political relationships, affiliations, money…all which lead to power…and often lead to get-out-of-jail-free cards and the benefit of the doubt (or the plausibility of being able to extend the benefit of the doubt) in a variety of situations (often in a law enforcement context or System context including “the Church” and Civil Authority).
It’s not about Truth and it’s not about Right and Wrong and it’s not about Blind Justice and Equal Scales. You can, in fact, tip the scales…and the majority of those who have power in our System do…and do it effectively and often. One needs look no further than the current political scandals in the headlines. There’s a different set of rules and enforcement in play depending on who you are, who you’re connected to, how much money you have and which “side” you’re on. If you’re on a “side”…you’ve got a chance. Rules and “justice” generally only apply to the regular schmucks who can’t claim ignorance or “amend” their “mistake”…who can’t claim tax software screwed up their return…who can’t parse what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. Nope. Regular folks must be perfect, must recall perfectly, must make perfect statements, etc or the full weight of the law is on them…very similar to how Church Authority works as well.
Hard-line Law and Justice for the powerless…Antinomian Grace and benefit-of-the-doubt as a shield for the powerful. Politics, Business, Church…no difference.
Are there exceptions to these “rules”? Of course there are, I’m painting in broad-brush generality. There are some folks in society and in the System who buck this overwhelming dynamic and do the right thing no matter what. You see glimpses of this counter-cultural ethos in Whistleblowers, politicians like Gary Johnson and Ron Paul, businessmen like Simon Lee (he gives away half his profits to help the poor) and Church leaders like…um, you know, like…um…err.
I’m sure there are some good Church leaders out there who are popular and well-known. Franklin Graham, there’s a good one! He serves Jesus! He does so much for God! He’s one who really counts the costs and sacrifices for the Lord. What? He made $1.2 million in 2008 from “serving” Jesus? You’re kidding me, that can’t be right. Oh? It is documented fact? http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2009/10/franklin_graham_moves_to_addre.html OK, he’s agreeing to a pay cut? http://www.newsobserver.com/2009/10/08/131524/evangelist-agrees-to-reduced-benefits.html That’s better, now he’s reportedly making over $500,000 a year in total compensation (for Jesus of course) instead of $1.2 million.
I think I feel “called” to Franklin’s Graham’s position and huge salaries, thank you Jesus! Where do I sign up for that sacrificial self-less Jesus ministry?
BTW, good job in having him speak at the CCSPC 2013 Amway Convention Calvary Chapel. Put another millionaire up there for the 1,400 CC water toter small-time pastors to suck up and aspire to. Point is, don’t buy the bullshit. CC pastors, if you want to aspire to “be something”…be a low-paid, un-heralded boring Servant of God and not a rich celebrity selling Jesus like he’s a ponzi scheme and quid pro quo herbal remedy for life’s problems. That’s horseshit, deep down, I think you know it. If you’re going to tout “special anointing” and promote Jesus, then be like him and not like Chuck Smith Sr. or any of the other rich celebrity pastors. Do the hard things, do the mundane, wash their feet (not the Big Dog CC leaders, the feet of the everyperson). If you are rich and famous because of selling Jesus, I think you have your reward (and maybe a punishment coming?).
“Most” are basically corrupt in some form. It’s the human condition. There is one Jesus and the vast majority of humanity doesn’t imitate him very well. I don’t, most of you don’t, not very often anyway. The “Church”? No different, it’s mostly about influence, money, power. Yada, yada, “it’s all for Jesus! I’d do it for free!” OK, do it for free and I’ll believe you, until then I call bullshit. Business? Look at Wall Street, look at the Big Corporations. The lies and corruption are covered over under the guise of “Shareholder equity!” and “Too big to fail!” and working the angles under intentionally wiggly laws and codes for the Lawyers to navigate their rich clients through like the Straits of Gibralter. The big money Lawyers have the maps (they lobbied and wrote the laws!) they know how to apply what is a different set of rules for “them”…but not for you. You? You’re screwed. Politics? LOL. Politicians take notes from the Church and Business…that’s where they learn how to be corrupt and how to lie and cheat and steal better.
What’s the difference between a Politician, CEO, and Preacher? Seriously, I don’t know, it’s not a joke.
What is true “belief”? Is it rote expressions of doctrine, theology, distinctives, creeds, etc? No. No more than repeating that you believe you can fly, then not jumping off the building. You believe what you do, you do what you believe. If you are hungry and you believe that eating the hamburger will satiate your hunger…you eat the hamburger. If you’re thirsty, you believe the bottle of water will quench you and you drink. When you are sick, you go to a doctor (or not in the case of some crazy Fundamentalists who let their kids die, which is murder in my opinion). You don’t put a loaded gun to your head and pull the trigger, because you believe when you pull the trigger it will fire and blow your brains out.
You “do” what you believe…and even if you repeat bullshit over and over in sermons and at Pastor’s Conferences and on the radio etc…when you don’t do it, you are expressing non-belief.
Exhibit A: Christian Fundamentalists tout “simple meaning!” and “plain meaning!” as their expressed belief in how they interpret the bible. In Truth, this sort of self-described approach is largely a pick-and-choose function of being Taliban on issues they are against and very Liberal on issues they like or can’t resolve. Don Stewart is a glaring example. He co-hosts Pastor’s Perspective with Pope Chuck…and Don is a divorced man (and not because his wife committed adultery or left him, she did neither). Sources tell me (multiple, not just one…and I’ve reached out to Don Stewart in the past and he wouldn’t respond to the question) that Mr. Stewart allegedly got popped for prostitution solicitation in Portland, Oregon. I don’t have the arrest report, but I have several sources who claim such and when asked, I got the CC Stone Wall. If it’s not true, he could have easily responded “no”…he didn’t respond. Dear Judge, while I don’t have DNA evidence or video that Don Stewart got popped for prostitution solicitation, I believe my sources and I have a reasonable belief that he did and that some sort of personal infidelity led to his divorce, which is a legitimate issue and right (per the Constitution) to discuss publicly regarding a pastor/leader/public personality who interjects himself into the public discussion regarding a variety of moral issues and promotes himself as an expert to trust and listen to.
That’s my opinion based on information from credible sources and I have the right to state my beliefs and to believe them, despite the judge’s bizarre ruling recently that you can somehow get in my mind and know what I’m thinking when I write stuff. That’s very clairvoyant, can you please tell me what my wife is thinking when she asks me if a certain dress makes her look fat…do I tell her the truth or does she want me to lie to her? That one always confuses me. To the point: Don Stewart, according to a “simple” reading and Ken Ham’s “plain meaning” (BTW, Ken Ham spoke at this year’s CCSPC as well, he got sued by former partners/associates in Australia for allegedly unethical behavior and my-way-or-the-highway Moses Model type garbage. Here’s a link: http://duoquartuncia.blogspot.com/2007/06/answers-in-genesis-lawsuit.html ) a person who is divorced for reasons other than adultery by the spouse is in the ongoing current sin of adultery today.
At least that’s what the bible says “simply” here: Luke 16:18 ”Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Seems pretty straightforward, no? Well, I’m sure there’s an explanation, I mean, it can’t mean what it says because Chuck Smith Sr. and Calvary Chapel wouldn’t have a “homosexual” hosting Pastor’s Perspective, because that’s such a heinous sin! God “hates” the homos! God “hates” liars and a lot of other folks, too, or so the bible says. Full Taliban on the homosexual issue, not so much when it comes to Calvary Chapel pastors who can’t keep the “little pastor” in their pants. This is what I call Selective Fundamentalism, write it down, it’s a drum I intend to beat for a long time.
There is no such thing as a true Christian Fundamentalist/Literalist/Conservative, only the Taliban do it right and keep it real and keep it OG and OT.
Today’s Fundamentalists/Literalists/Conservatives are really Selective Fundamentalists or even Part-time Liberals depending on the issue. Hard cold law and justice for homosexuals, maximum grace and antinomianism for liars, prideful, heterosexual adulterers, gluttons and whatever sins they (and their buddies) can’t tame. Fact is, there is no such thing as the Transformational Gospel. You might change positionally in a Justification context, but none are truly “transformed” in the context presented by the particular Group that promotes this myth.
Atheists, Mormons, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, etc can do “good works” and can be very moral people…they “love their neighbor” and they are the Good Samaritan many times. Conversely, God’s supposed “specially anointed” can be some of the most lecherous evil bastards ever evolved theistically (yes, Ken Ham, the facts tell me you are a total idiot, and for those who would exegete my words 2,000 years from now, I mean Ken Ham is a total idiot, I think he is intellectually dishonest and twisting and contorting and forcing things into his presuppositional box…and making a lot of money and quite a name for himself in Fundie circles by doing it).
Humans are bad and good, good and bad. One giant beautiful mess of contraction and duality. Some are generally more evil than others, others are generally more good. Most are a mix, capable of doing very good things and very bad things. It’s how we tick, it’s who we are. There is no correlation to some special “transformation” in Christians and no evidence that Atheists or Mormons or whoever you deem as Godless can’t be moral, exhibit the “fruits of the Spirit” etc. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control is exhibited in all Groups, so is malice, lying, selfishness, pride, anger, lust, etc. If you disagree with me, you are going to a level of hell reserved for Adolph Hitler
Ironically, this Calvary Chapel Bob Grenier situation proves all the above. Selective Fundamentalism is on full display.
Chuck Smith Sr. rebuked me on air and from the pulpit for being “unforgiving” and for not unilaterally forgiving my step-dad for the hurt he caused me and my brothers. I’ve been roundly scolded, rebuked, ridiculed, told I’m in “greater sin” and “of the devil” and even demon-possessed by some in Calvary Chapel. I’ve been told my actions toward seeking justice are “hatred” and “bitterness” and that I should “leave it to the Lord!” and “move on” etc.
How come Chuck Smith Sr. rebuked me then and didn’t unilaterally forgive me and “leave it to the Lord” like he told me? Why did a powerful public figure take action for the slight he believed he suffered? Why did Chuck Smith Sr. sue Mike Kessler over CSN Radio and money when he felt he was wronged, even though the bible “simply” says you’re not to do such a thing? Why is Bob Grenier suing me for the slight and injustice he says he’s suffering? I thought we were to unilaterally forgive?
Selective Fundamentalism and true belief. Chuck Smith and Bob Grenier don’t really believe the bullshit they tell you. They are very unforgiving and very much want blood…when it suits their Agenda and purpose. When you are the Offended, well, you are to unilaterally forgive and just leave it to God, etc. I call bullshit. Liars lie and spin, it’s what they do. In my opinion, Chuck Smith and Bob Grenier (and much of Calvary Chapel leadership) are liars and twisters and spinners and will profess one set of rules from their pulpits for “you”…and practice a very different belief for themselves. It’s proven over and over again in a ton of other instances.
Pastor Steve Wright of Calvary Chapel Lake Elsinore recently exampled the Truth underlying this entire situation. Pastor Steve and I have logged a ton of time over at Michael Newnham’s PhoenixPreacher blog over the years. It started out friendly and I took it in a more adversarial direction once I gauged that Steve wasn’t interested in taking any responsibility as an “in fellowship” co-affiliated CC Pastor/Elder and rejected the “simple meaning” of 1 Timothy 5:19-22 etc.
Steve Wright has many times stated that “spiritual abuse” is often some sort of over-used and over-played concoction of disgruntled church folks who have a bad experience (largely based on their own issues) and need to move on and get over it etc etc. His buddy Gene Schneider (MLD) tends to echo this sentiment over the years as well. Unilateral forgiveness is what is generally touted, that and the typical “don’t be bitter” “being bitter is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to get sick” “leave it to the Lord” etc. Steve seems to have a hard time understanding why I’ve got a chip on my shoulder, especially when it comes to Calvary Chapel.
Well, Steve’s recently gained some empathy through experience. I’ve been somewhat intentional in the direction I’ve taken my relationship with him…largely to make a point and to persuade and teach through real-life experience (which tends to stick) verses just stating words over and over on a blog.
Long story short, I’ve kind of been a dick to him and not been very gracious. I outed his identity (which violated his trust and was a sort of betrayal) and then I’ve laid into him persistently many time, giving him a sort of blog-beating (or what Bob Grenier would call a “spanking”) many times. I don’t let up. I don’t give the guy a chance to breath, often. He sticks his head up, I knock him down. I play a bit dirty at times, I don’t follow the rules etc. Hmm, who else (metaphor) did similar growing up in my life? Hmm, who could it be?
Now, does Steve Wright unilaterally forgive and treat me like nothing’s happened? Does he extend grace to me consistently? Is he kind and loving toward me? Does he say nice things about me? Not on your life. Selective Fundamentalism. One set of advice like a prescription from Pastor Steve to those hurting, a whole other expressed belief in action when the shoe is on the other foot. Steve hates my guts. He hits back. He rails on me, calls me out, accuses me, etc.
It came to a head again recently and he offered this tidbit which exposes his true belief in how to handle offense:
Why give someone your word, if you word doesn’t mean anything?
Why believe or trust anything such a person ever says?
Why believe or trust anything such a person ever says? Yes. Why believe anything coming out of Bob Grenier’s mouth, Chuck Smith’s mouth or Calvary Chapel? They’ve lied to me. Bob Grenier lied to me my whole life, so did Chuck Smith, so did Calvary Chapel. They told me the the bible was to be taken “simply” and that it was the Authority and the Standard by which we measure all things. Now they’re suing me for following the bible in a very Christian Fundamentalist manner.
I followed Matthew 18 and confronted Bob privately, then went to his main Elder at CCV, then I spent four years praying about it after getting the con job from the Dowds. I told the truth to the CC elders, board, fellow pastors, CCOF, Chuck Smith etc. It took years and years of following the “rules”. I “warned”, I “told it unto the church” and I “rebuked them publicly”…all per a “simple” read of the bible. When push came to shove, Bob Grenier betrayed me. He didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. He didn’t submit to Matthew 18, he didn’t tell the truth, he didn’t confess and repent, he sacrificed me and my brothers to save his “ministry”…my mother betrayed us as well. The Church betrayed us. We were Stone-Walled, lied to, manipulated, treated as garbage. Our offenses were minimized, the gobs of people whose offenses we shared with Pope Chuck were discarded. My brother Paul Grenier’s allegations were not taken seriously by Calvary Chapel. We were all betrayed, the bible was betrayed. It has been Selective Fundamentalism at its worst. It’s a Statement of Belief by Bob Grenier, Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapel System of Churches. Don’t buy their bullshit, actions speak louder than words.
Steve Wright, Pastor of Calvary Chapel Lake Elsinore, is a coward of the worst kind. He hid behind a moniker until I outed him, then once he’s out he continues to defend a System that doesn’t do what it says…it twists and spins and takes very little “simply” unless it’s something like Gay Marriage or “double honor” as an excuse to pay pastors well (Steve excluded, he does do a good job with his finances). It’s your attitude and actions regarding your hypocrisy with these issues that really torque me Steve. On one hand, you say you’re not responsible, CC’s are all independent and you can’t do anything…on the other hand you tote the water and defend the Brand publicly and rebuke your enemies (and CC’s enemies) often. Bullshit. Be a do-nothing pacifist in all areas or STFU (yes, exegeters in the future, that stands for Shut The F**k Up). I can respect a consistent asshole, I can respect a consistent gracious guy like a Chuck Smith Jr. I have zero respect for mealy-mouthed politicians like Steve Wright.
Similarly, I have no respect for Fundamentalist/Literalist/Conservatives who tout “simple meaning” yet don’t go full Taliban. If you’re going to tout that angle and look down your ignorant noses at the Liberals within Christianity, then go the whole way and stone your women and children to death, make your women cover their heads in church, quit tolerating divorce, stop being fat gluttons (ever been to a CCSPC? Moo. Fat asses everywhere, but not Mr. Mid-life Crisis Greg Laurie, LOL, he’s got the GLT’s goin’ on! Gym, Laundry, Tan! Lookin’ good for an old dude Laurie, just keep it in your pants…or, actually, since you’re CC just make sure you don’t stick it in a dude and you’ll be fine).
We can learn a lot from the Liberals in Christianity. We’re all moving in that direction anyway. The Enlightenment, if God is real, is from God. He gave us Reason, he gave us Truth, he gave us a Conscience, he gave us a brain (Ken Ham, it’s OK to use it, don’t be scared). If the presuppositionalist position of “the devil is the father of lies!” is in fact true, then don’t fear Truth, wherever you find it. If you are a presuppositionalist and literalist who doesn’t believe that “simple” verse in the bible, then your Belief System is errant and has a flaw. Either way, you’re screwed.
Fear is what keeps most Selective Fundamentalists from embracing the Truth about reality. Fear is what keeps Cult Followers cult followers, it keeps Kool-Aid Drinkers drinking, it’s what puts money in the coffers, it’s what gives men pulpits, people and power in a worldly sense (which is largely the Church sense as well).
If God is real (and I believe he is), then it’s OK to be a Selective Fundamentalist, which is really a Liberal in disguise. If God is “love”, if the pre-eminent “Law” is now “Love your neighbor” and “Good Samaritan” and “Unilateral Forgiveness”…then quit cowering in the corners and shed the rest of the ridiculousness of Selective Fundamentalism. Embrace the God of Christianity, who is the Jesus Christ of the Gospels. God is not words on a page or creeds or traditions or some weird pick-and-choose bible belt cultural concoction. God is not the jot and tittle of what we call the canon of scripture, nor is the bible inerrant or without contradiction and paradox.
God is probably Spirit, Zeitgeist, Universe, Truth and Jesus. God is more Ideal than Idol, more Truth than Transformation, more Distinct than Distinctive. If you aren’t afraid to watch, listen and read between the lines, you’ll discover some glimpse of Truth as I have, guaranteed.