About Calvary Chapel
Calvary Chapel is a non-denominational church movement focused on the inerrancy of the Bible and the expository teaching from Genesis to Revelation.
Calvary Chapel is an evangelical association of Christian churches with over one thousand congregations worldwide. Calvary Chapel also maintains a number of radio stations around the world and operates many local Calvary Chapel Bible College programs. It presents itself as a "fellowship of churches" in contrast to a denomination.Churches which affiliate with Calvary Chapel may use the name "Calvary Chapel" but need not do so.
Beginning in 1965 in Southern California, this fellowship of churches grew out of Chuck Smith's Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Doctrinally, Calvary Chapel is evangelical, dispensational, pretribulationist, and believes in the principle of sola scriptura. Calvary Chapels place great importance in the practice of expository teaching, a "verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book" approach to teaching the Bible. Typically, Calvary Chapels operate under a senior pastor-led system of church government, sometimes referred to as the "Moses" model; also commonly understood by Calvary Chapel as a modified episcopal governance. Chuck Smith's "Calvary Chapel Distinctives" summarizes the tenets for which Calvary Chapel stands.
In December 1965, Chuck Smith became the pastor of a 25-person congregation and in 1968 broke away from the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Santa Ana, California. Before Smith became their pastor, twelve of the 25 members attended a prayer meeting about whether or not to close their church: they reported that "the Holy Spirit spoke to them through prophecy" and told them that Chuck would become their pastor, that he would want to elevate the platform area, that God would bless the church, that it would go on the radio, that the church would become overcrowded, and that he would become known throughout the world.
In 1969, Calvary Chapel became associated with what later became known as the Jesus Movementwhen Chuck's daughter introduced him to her boyfriend John, a former hippie who had become a Christian. John then introduced Chuck to Lonnie Frisbee, a hippie Christian who would eventually become a key figure in the Jesus Movement and in Calvary Chapel. Lonnie moved into Chuck's home, and in a few days, more hippies moved in with Chuck and his wife.
In 1982,John Wimber, a Calvary Chapel pastor, and the Calvary Chapel leadership mutually agreed to part ways. Tension had been mounting over Wimber's emphasis on spiritual manifestations leading Wimber to withdraw from Calvary Chapel and affiliate with a network of churches that would become the Association of Vineyard Churches.
Affiliates of Calvary Chapel believe in the fundamental doctrines of evangelical Christianity, which include the inerrancy of the Bible and the Trinity. Within evangelical Christianity, they say that they stand in the "middle ground between fundamentalism and Pentecostalism in modern Protestant theology". While they share with fundamentalism a belief in the inerrancy of the Bible, unlike fundamentalists, they accept spiritual gifts. However, they feel that Pentecostalism values experience at the expense of the word of God.
Calvinism and Arminianism
Calvary Chapel strives to "strik[e] a balance between extremes" when it comes to controversial theological issues such as Calvinism's and Arminianism's conflicting views on salvation. Calvary Chapels hold the following views on the five points of Calvinism:
Calvary Chapel agrees with Calvinism's and Arminianism's view of all men as "sinners" but holds that — through Jesus Christ — salvation becomes possible.
Calvinists believe that man's election to salvation lies completely in the choice of God, while Arminians believe that man's free will plays a role as well. Calvary Chapel has taken a middle ground approach by saying that "God clearly does choose, but man must also accept God's invitation to salvation."
Calvary strongly sides with Arminianism, which contends that Jesus died "for the whole world"; this contrasts with the Calvinist view that Jesus' death was intended and therefore efficient only for the elect. The Calvary Chapel view is that the "atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ was clearly sufficient to save the entire human race".
On dealing with man's ability to resist God, Calvary sides with Arminianism and believes that "God's grace can either be resisted or received by the exercise of human free will". Calvinists believe in irresistible grace.
Calvary Chapels believe in the perseverance of the saints (true believers) but express deep concern about sinful lifestyles and rebellious hearts among those who call themselves Christians.
Although Calvary Chapel believes in the continuing efficacy of the gift of tongues, it does not recognize uninterpreted tongues spoken in a congregational setting as necessarily inspired (or at least directed) by the Holy Spirit because of its understanding of 1 Corinthians 14. Calvary Chapel accepts that the Bible affirms interpreted tongues and modern prophecy. Practicing tongues in private occurs more commonly.Calvary Chapel does not teach that the outward manifestation of every Christian counts as speaking in tongues. Instead, the movement's theologians regard speaking in tongues as one of the many gifts of the Spirit and see believers as blessed as the Spirit moves.
Similar to other Pentecostal or Charismatic movements, Calvary Chapel holds that the baptism of the Holy Spirit does not take place during conversion, but is available as a second experience. It is their understanding that there are three distinct relationships with the Holy Spirit. The first is that which is experienced prior to conversion. In this relationship the Holy Spirit is convicting the person of his sin. In the second relationship the Holy Spirit indwells believers during conversion for the purpose of sanctification. The third relationship is the baptism of the Holy Spirit which Calvary Chapel believes is for the purpose of being a Christian witness.
Baptism and Communion
Calvary Chapels practice believer's baptism by immersion. Calvary Chapel does not regard baptism as necessary for salvation, but instead sees it as an outward sign of an inward change. As a result, the Chapels do not baptize infants, although they may dedicate them to God. Calvary Chapel views Communion in a symbolic way, with reference to 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
Calvary Chapels strongly espouse pretribulationist and premillennialist views in their eschatology (the study of the end times). They believe that the rapture of the Church will occur first, followed by a literal seven-year period of great tribulation, followed by the second coming of Jesus Christ, and then finally a literal thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on earth called the Millennial Kingdom. Calvary Chapel also rejects supersessionism and instead believes that the Jews remain God's chosen people and that Israel will play an important part in the end times.
Interest in one event during the Tribulation—the building of a Third Temple in Jerusalem —led in the early 1980s to associations between some in Calvary Chapel (including Chuck Smith) and Jewish groups interested in seeing the temple rebuilt.
Calvary Chapel pastors tend to prefer expositional sermons rather than topical ones, and they will often give their sermons sequentially from the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. They believe that expository preaching allows the congregation to learn how all parts of the Bible address issues as opposed to topical sermons which they see as allowing preachers to emphasize certain issues more than others. Another advantage, they say, is that it makes difficult topics easier to address because members of the congregation won't feel like they are being singled out. It sees expository teaching as providing consistent teaching that, over time, brings the "perfecting of the saints" which is part of their general philosophy for the Church. In teaching expositorily through scripture sequentially, Calvary Chapel believes God sets the agenda, not the pastor.
Calvary Chapels believe that most churches have a "dependent, highly organized, [and] structured" environment, but that most people want an "independent and casual way of life". Calvary therefore has decided to have a casual and laid-back atmosphere in their churches. As a practical implication of this philosophy, people may wear street clothes to church. Praise and worship usually consists of upbeat contemporary Christian music though many Calvarys also play hymns. The style of worship generally reflects the region and the specific make-up of the congregation.
Calvary Chapel does not have a formalized system of church membership. Calling a Calvary Chapel one's church usually means regularly attending church services and becoming involved in fellowship with other "members" of the church.
Calvary Chapels are independent and self governing churches. They do not employ congregational polity, believing that congregations made poor decisions in the Old Testament, citing Exodus 16:2 as an example. They believe that the New Testament clearly ordains the presbyterian and episcopal forms of church government, looking to Acts 14:23 and 1 Timothy 3:1.
The majority of Calvary Chapels have adopted models of government based on the theocracy that God established in the Old Testament—sometimes called the "Moses model". In this system, God was head of his people and under God's authority was Moses, who led the Israelites as God directed him. Moses also had a priesthood and seventy elders providing him support. Calvary Chapel has adapted this schema so that their pastors have a role like Moses and their boards of elders function in supporting roles.
The Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship (CCOF) has the responsibility of affiliating churches with Calvary Chapel. A church that affiliates with Calvary Chapel often (but not always) uses the name "Calvary Chapel". Three requirements for becoming affiliated exist:
the pastor must "embrace the characteristics of the Calvary Chapel movement as described in Calvary Chapel Distinctives"
the church must have the characteristics of a church (as opposed to a less-developed home fellowship)
an applicant must express willingness to spend the time to fellowship with other Calvary Chapels.
The requirements do not include a seminary degree. In accordance with Calvary's interpretation and understanding of the Bible (see 1 Timothy 3:2 and 1 Timothy 3:12), Calvary Chapel does not ordain women or homosexuals as pastors.
Regional lead pastors exercise a measure of accountability. Since no legal or financial ties link the different Calvary Chapels, only disaffiliatin can serve as a disciplinary procedure.
Technically, Calvary Chapel has only one Bible college: Calvary Chapel Bible College (CCBC), located in Murrieta, California. However, this school also has at least 90 extension campuses throughout the world. Founded in 1975, it originally offered a "short, intensive study program",but it subsequently became a two-year school which awards Certificates of Completion, Associate in Theology degrees, and Bachelor of Biblical Studies degrees (depending on a student's educational history).No matter which degree or certificate a student earns, the course requirements remain the same.
Calvary Chapel nowoffers a Master's degree program at the Costa Mesa campus, where the Calvary Chapel School of Ministry (SoM)operates. The college as a whole does not have accreditation, but students can transfer CCBC credits to some major accredited colleges such as Azusa Pacific. The college does not seek accreditation, as this allows Calvary Chapel to control the content of instruction and curriculum.
Several other Calvary Chapel branches operate their own stations:
Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa operates KWVE-FM near Los Angeles, California. Its programming consists mostly of Bible teaching, but it also includes some Christian music.
(in New Mexico) operates KLYT\, known as M88 Radio. This station plays Christian music and has 16 broadcast translators around New Mexico.
Calvary Chapel of Bishop in Bishop, California operates the Living Proof Radio Network which broadcasts to much of Eastern California and the high desert on 88.5 KWTW>, 90.9 KWTM, 91.3 KWTH, 91.9 KWTD as well as using several translators. The station plays Christian worship music, jingles containing short scripture readings, and teaching from various Calvary Chapels and other churches, as well as a weekend program called "God's Country" — featuring Christian country and bluegrass.
Calvary Chapel Brandon in Brandon, Florida broadcasts on 96.5 The Word FM. Popular Calvary Chapel speakers and Christian music appear daily on the broadcast.
Calvary Chapel Chico in California operates KQIP-LP 107.1 FM, known as The Calvary Road. This station airs sermons from other Calvary pastors as well as live, weekly broadcasts of Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday services. Calvary Chapel Chico also operates a webcast that broadcasts live services as well as past archived services.
Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale
in Fort Lauderdale, Florida broadcasts on WREH Reach FM on 90.5 FM, with repeater stations currently dispersed throughout the state of Florida.
Calvary Chapel Honolulu
(in Hawaii) operates KLHT, known on-air as K-Light 1040 AM. This station offers inspirational programming.
Calvary Chapel Kendall
in Kendall, FL will begin broadcasting on March 1, 2010 with the recently acquired 90.9 FM WGES-FM license as LIFE:FM90.9.
Calvary Chapel of Marlton
Hope-FM Marlton, NJ. Broadcasting Calvary Chapel teachings and Christian music in the Philadelphia metro area.
Calvary Chapel Old Bridge
(in Old Bridge, NJ), operates WRDRThe Bridge FM
reaching a potential audience of over 6.5 million people in the New York-New Jersey metro area on 91.9 FM, 89.7 FM, 103.1 FM, 98.9 FM and 99.7 FM.
Calvary Chapel of Oxnard
operates 101.5 FM
Cross Culture Radio from Oxnard, CA. It broadcasts Bible teaching from various Calvary Chapel teachers as well as contemporary Christian Praise and Worship music.
Calvary Chapel Pocatello
in Southeast Idaho operates KRTK 1490 AM, known as CrossTalk Radio. This station airs Bible teaching, contemporary Christian music, and worship music.
Calvary Chapel Portsmouth
in England is on GenesisTV Friday 10PM BST, known as Cross Reference. This station airs Bible teaching and contemporary Christian music.
Calvary Church of Russell
in Pennsylvania operates WTWT, a station broadcasting in the western Twin Tiers region of New York and Pennsylvania. The station airs a mix of bible teaching and Christian rock, competing with the more contemporary Family Life Network.
Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara
operates KVRY-LP in Goleta California (adjacent to Santa Barbara). It broadcasts Contemporary Christian Music and covers the University of California-Santa Barbara.
In addition, the CSN International(originally known as the "Calvary Satellite Network") and Effect Radio networks were founded by a Calvary Chapel in Twin Falls, Idaho; though CSN still carries a significant number of programs from several Calvary Chapels, the networks and the church (now known by the name "The River Christian Fellowship") have all apparently severed their official ties with the Calvary Chapel.
Harvest Crusades operate as a ministry of Harvest Christian Fellowship (a Calvary Chapel in Riverside, California). They carry out an evangelistic ministry similar to Billy Graham's. They meet in stadiums and have Christian music bands play followed by an evangelical message normally given by Greg Laurie. They estimate three million people have attended since its inception in 1990.
Accountability of the Pastorate System
As a result of micromanaging church elders and board members, Chuck Smith used "an independent board of elders" when he took the senior pastor role at Calvary Chapel. Smith subsequently wrote that "senior pastors should be answerable to God, not to a denominational hierarchy or board of elders". Christianity Today, which calls this the "Moses Model"—where senior pastors do not permit their authority to be challenged—identifies how churches that adhere to this model are often resistant to accountability. In response, Smith suggests that the model God used when Israel was under the rule of Moses is a good model to adopt.
According to one article, "Smith's book Calvary Chapel Distinctives teaches that senior pastors should be answerable to God, not to a denominational hierarchy or board of elders." "Critics say this "Moses model" produces pastors who refuse to let their authority be challenged. Such pastors often resist accountability measures such as financial audits and providing detailed financial statements. Some curious Calvary Chapel attendees, who have sought financial information from their churches, say they were ostracized."
Smith's position on 9/11
A September 22, 2001 article in the Los Angeles Times said Smith told overflow crowds that abortions contributed to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The writer noted that “Such biblical interpretations of the end times trouble both liberals and many conservatives.”
Chuck Smith, founder of the calvary Chapel movement in the 1960s; as of 2009 senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in Santa Ana, California
Lonnie Frisbee (died 1993), hippie evangelist in the 1960s, the key figure of the Jesus Movement: "The first Jesus freak". Pastor in Calvary Chapel until 1971.
Mark Balmer, senior pastor as of 2009
of Calvary Chapel of Melbourne in Melbourne, Florida
Bob Coy, senior pastor (1985 to present
of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Skip Heitzig, senior pastor as of 2009
of Calvary of Albuquerque in Albuquerque, New Mexico (to 2004 and from 2006)
J. Mark Martin, pastor (1982 to present
of Calvary Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona
Mike MacIntosh, pastor as of 2009
of Horizon Christian Fellowship in San Diego, California
Chuck Missler, author and teacher
Malcolm Wild, senior pastor as of 2009
of Calvary Chapel Merritt Island in Merritt Island, Florida
Dennis Agajanian, alumnus of the "Guinness Book of World Records" as the fastest flat-picker
Alejandro Alonso, contemporary Christian-Latin artist
Jeremy Camp, contemporary Christian artist
Richie Furay, folk rock artist
Brian Nixon, former rock musician with the bands The Electra and Widow's Mite
P.O.D., alternative rock band
Tony Stone, Christian hip-hop producer
Switchfoot, alternative rock band
Phil Wickham, contemporary Christian artist