If you watch/listen to one Christian message this year…watch Alistair Begg’s address to #CCSPC14.
The Holy Spirit moved…and you wouldn’t know it because it lacked the drama, all the emotionalism and over-acting of typical Charismania. The message brought me to tears and reminded me that God is real despite my incredible cynicism and disgust of organized religion and pastors etc. As much as I try to challenge the bible and Christianity etc, there is an ember of faith and a yearning for holiness and real revival…in me and in Calvary Chapel. There is a deep and powerful compulsion and drive in me and I can’t deny it. I have many reasons not to believe, but I can’t help but believing and hoping in something real despite all the phonies and all the scoundrels and all the scandal and all the hypocrisy and all the difficult passages in the bible etc.
Begg’s message addressed the Bob Coy elephant in the room without directly naming him. He spoke about the David and Bathsheba story, the fact that great leaders of God are just as human and sinful as anyone and the need for accountability and Nathan’s…and self-reflection and honesty and true repentance. His words were sober, restrained, true…and powerful. He challenged the audience of pastors in a manner rarely seen in Calvary Chapel conferences.
Among some of the big mistakes of the macro-Calvary-Chapel-narrative and apologetic is the “Specially Anointed!™” canard along with “The Devil Took Him Out™” refrain.
CCSP’s, you are TALENTED and you have a COMPULSION to be a pastor and share the gospel. You are NOT “specially anointed.” Calvary Chapel has given a false impression to its “sheep” and its CCSP’s and Assistant Pastors that the CCSP is “specially anointed by God!” and somehow less capable of doing great evil, less capable of committing big sin and more spiritual than the lowliest person sitting in the pew. That is entirely false. The Calvary Chapel Pastor is just as sinful and capable of evil as you or me.
The devil didn’t make you do it (one of Begg’s themes), sin is “an inside job” (completely agree) and the devil doesn’t “take you out”…YOU choose to do what you want, when you want and you are responsible for your sin and the bad choices you make. Skip Heitzig’s b.s. is just that, and many CCSP’s buy into the “devil is attacking me!” garbage. The devil doesn’t need to attack most of you because you are doing just fine for the devil without him caring about you and making you a priority.
I’ve sinned big in my life and it was completely my fault. I made the choices I made because I wanted to for whatever selfish reasons I had, even though I knew it was wrong. Calvary Chapel Pastors and Leaders are no different and don’t believe their lies when they minimize their sinfulness and then lie about it and then go on offense and blame it all on the “devil!” and “attackers from the devil!” etc. That’s just a ploy to protect their lying and sinfulness and to keep up their phony appearances vs. actually practicing what they preach and sell…often for big money and fame.
Begg called out two huge issues that Calvary Chapel needs to continue to address, and needs to make a priority: He called attention to “financial misappropriation” and “moral” unfaithfulness (which can be child abuse, adultery, porn addiction, pill addiction, you name it).
The fact that Begg was given the platform to speak…and given the permission to speak that message to CCSP’s…is a very good sign on many levels.
1. It demonstrates that pastoral holiness and speaking the raw honest truth might be a priority of the new Regime in CC.
2. It demonstrates that George Bryson’s witch hunt is dead in today’s Calvary Chapel Association.
3. It gives hope that pastoral conduct might become a priority in Calvary Chapel…and bad pastoral conduct hurts and disillusions and causes serious doubts about faith and religion MUCH MORE than Calvary Chapel acknowledges or admits or understands.
Brodersen, Calvary Chapel Association, Alistair Begg…thank you for that message. If you want to see real Revival…do more of that. Be honest, be real, acknowledge sin in the pulpit first (most of the pew sitters know we’re dirty ugly sinners in need of Jesus, quit acting like you guys don’t and quit lying about your sin but rather be honest and then point to it as a mistake to avoid instead of always lying and then shooting the messengers).
The devil is NOT for Financial Transparency, Accountability and Child Protection Policies in the church, I guarantee you that. So, don’t blame criticism as “attacks from the devil!” That’s a lie. Practice what you preach and don’t be “blink, blink” phonies (thanks Pancho, love that example you gave from the very real folks in East L.A. who know b.s. when they see it).
To Brodersen’s credit, he called out the dangers of the Moses Model in his talk on the evening of Day 3. He seemed to reinforce what was a major theme of this year’s conference: Pastoral holiness and to practice what you preach.
There is a lot going on behind the scenes. I am not for or against Brian Brodersen. I am for the truth, for the church and pastors trying to do the right thing and I am against lying about scandals and sins and mistakes and against Financial Abuses, Child Abuses, etc in the church that is part of who I am whether Calvary Chapel likes it or not.
I understand that past mistakes have been made. I understand when there is true repentance and when amends are made and families move on and whatever happened is no longer an issue. I understand that some of the old situations were not nearly as bad as what happened in Bob Grenier’s home. I still don’t appreciate being made the bad guy when others broach those legitimate issues and then when I report on it, I’m somehow the bad guy. Talk to me, give me your side, but be honest and let’s discuss how it can be a good thing by showing that you made amends and truly repented and then warn the younger pastors to avoid some of the mistakes you made and give them good advice about how to parent and where the lines are.
What I will never be OK with is simply ignoring, denying, lying about it…and then attacking the messenger instead of attacking the sin that was committed.
Net-net, I think the #CCSPC14 was a transformative conference and pretty clear launching of a new direction “Forward” for the Calvary Chapel Association.
There were very clear messages presented…and those who were chosen to speak at the pulpit and on panels was a crystal clear message as well. With the exception of Skip Heitzig and Don Stewart, the speakers chosen have good reputations (or I would have heard about it by now, believe me, I get inundated with Calvary Chapel’s dirty laundry and skeletons). The topics discussed: Some were typical CC, many were different (in a good way)…especially Begg’s message and couple of others.
Calvary Chapel clearly wants to be an “Association” and form of Denomination…which is good. Having structure and organization can be very good. The lawyers will tell you by doing that you are taking on liability…yes, true…but don’t let that scare you like it did Chuck Smith. What you can do to protect yourself is IMPLEMENT CHILD PROTECTION POLICIES and show you actually care about protecting kids to the best of your ability…then if a lawsuit comes, you can demonstrate that the child was not hurt because you didn’t try your best. In sitting and dialoguing with leading child abuse attorney Kelly Clark (while he was alive)…one recurring theme was how juries dropped the hammer on religious organizations for being in such denial about the issue of Child Abuse and how they willingly and stubbornly refused to address the Problem in their ranks. Well, guess what…those juries hammered those organizations…and now those organizations have Policies. Do it willingly and not with a gun to your head. Listen. Don’t keep putting it off simply because I am pushing the issue…that’s your pride keeping you from doing the right thing.
Watching #CCSPC14 did something that actually surprised me. It rekindled a spark of faith in me and actually encouraged me in the work I’m doing on this blog. I don’t know if I’m “called” or if it’s God who motivates me…but maybe. I do know I’m compelled and have a deep burning passion for these things. I know I’m not “specially anointed”…but I know I’ve got talent and desire. “Don’t grow weary in doing [the work of the Lord]” (assuming it is such and assuming God is real). “Be yourself.” “Be real, don’t be a phony.” “Look inward and deal with sin.” “Take risks.” “Make choices not to sin.” etc.
I’m so fired up and inspired that I’ve made the choice/decision to start attending Calvary Chapel Boise and work from the inside. Bob Caldwell, I’m heading your way. You have a big CC, you are one of the new rising leaders in the CC Association and a potential change-agent…and I’m compelled and motivated to take a risk and work from the inside and out. Buckle up.