June 13, 2005

 

Pastor Chuck Smith

Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa,

3800 S. Fairview

Santa Ana, CA 92704

 

Dear Pastor Chuck,

 

I am writing you this letter because I have a deep love and appreciation for you personally and am grateful to God for all He has done through you and the ministry of Calvary Chapel.

 

It is hard for me to believe that it was 24 years ago this month that I first met you and was introduced to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Through those years the Lord has allowed me to participate in the Calvary Chapel movement, a ministry I believe that God has raised up to proclaim the truth of God’s Word to the world in these last days. Through the Calvary Chapel movement God has opened doors for the ministry of Understand The Times around the world and throughout the United States.

 

Further, the Lord has used Calvary Chapel and the Calvary Chapel movement as the very core of the ministry I have been called to do. Wherever I have gone, it has been my goal and desire to represent and reflect the foundational principles of the Calvary philosophy that you have instilled in me and in the many pastors and teachers that God has chosen you to shepherd.

 

It is with a heavy heart that I must communicate to you that over the past several years, because of many firsthand encounters and experiences in various places with numerous Calvary Chapel pastors, that I have observed a change in the Calvary Chapel movement that deeply concerns me. Perhaps some of my concerns have filtered back to you through others. Until writing this letter, I have not formally contacted you with these concerns. I regret now that I have waited so long. After leaving the Pastors Conference in Murrieta this past week, I laid awake several nights contemplating what I should do or say. This letter is the result. 

 

We are living at a critical time in the history of the Calvary Chapel movement and church history. The truth of God’s Word is being compromised and watered-down. Obviously, it is not just the Calvary Chapel movement that is being influenced and it is not all Calvary Chapels that are being impacted. This trend crosses all denominational boundaries.

 

The comments I will now make are general in nature, but are indicative of the direction that some in the Calvary Chapel movement are headed in spite of your clear warnings to teach the Word of God and not be caught up in trends that lead away from the teaching of the Word.

 

Ecumenical and unbiblical teachings are being endorsed for the cause of unity and church growth. The gospel of Jesus Christ is being disguised to make it less offensive and more acceptable.

 

Churches that once taught the Bible faithfully verse by verse preparing the flock for the imminent return of Jesus Christ, now are looking for ways to make their services more seeker-friendly and are less concerned about the prophetic signs we are living in the last of the last days.

 

Pastors and churches that once believed church growth was dependent on feeding the sheep and equipping the saved to share the gospel, now promote humanistic means to draw in the masses based on a consumer style of evangelism focused on “finding out what people want” to “get them in the door.”

 

Churches once led by pastors committed to biblical truth, now are employing experts who use worldly principles borrowed from secular corporations with material goals for success. Rather than following Jesus and His Word, pastors and church leaders are looking to successful men and their methods so they can become part of a movement that is based on principles foreign to the Scriptures.

 

Further, when church leaders promote strategies to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth by humanistic methods, when concerned believers warn about the dangers, they are labeled divisive. Contending for the faith is no longer considered biblical. A person taking a position for biblical truth is now accused of being critical of what others believe.  

 

Bible-believing pastors that once taught the Bible are now looking for ways to attract people to their congregations by providing extrabiblical experiences and an atmosphere that includes candles, icons, incense and the introduction of Roman Catholic sacraments. When concerned observers suggest this appears to be leading to a partnership with Roman Catholicism they are considered to be negative opponents of the “new thing” God is doing that is reaching our generation.

 

It is apparent to some that we are at another crossroads in church history, a fork in the road. Are pastors going to stand up and make their voices known if they have concerns about the direction current trends are leading? While some say, don’t be negative – just be known for what you believe, not what you are against – the Old Testament prophets were outspoken when followers of God strayed away from the truths of God and never allowed the sheep to feel comfortable in their sin.

 

If we truly believe that Jesus may return soon, what position do we want to take? Should we be promoting methods of success that produce big churches with shallow believers who are asleep when Jesus returns? Shouldn’t leaders be sounding the trumpet and warning of His imminent return?

 

I realize you were not present when the panel discussed the purpose-driven question at the Pastors’ Conference. Many came away confused or disappointed by what they heard. As you know, the purpose-driven philosophy does not promote the teaching of the Bible verse by verse and does not warn about the imminent return of Jesus because this “takes away from individuals being purpose driven in the present.” This is exactly opposite of what I know you believe. Further the purpose-driven movement has linked hands with Chuck Colson to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth. Chuck Colson previously linked hands with Rome and believes that Roman Catholics and Protestant evangelicals can evangelize together.

 

Many pastors went away from the conference recognizing there was a contradiction with statements made by panel members and the position you have previously stated. Unfortunately, others did not. The applause for Greg Laurie’s endorsement of purpose-driven was evident.

 

Further, while you graciously allowed Another Jesus? The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization to be handed out to pastors when they registered for the conference, at the end of the conference the pastors were presented a dangerously close view of the Roman Catholic Jesus by Jon Courson who left the impression that “Jesus” is present in the wafer and that the wafer is more than a symbol. Many left upset, especially former Roman Catholics. Others were confused, and could not believe what was happening.

 

I know that I will not be the only one who contacts you with their concerns. In my travels and conversations with Calvary pastors and missionaries all over the world, I have found there is a consensus among many. There is a current wind of doctrine underway that is leading many astray.

 

Calvary Chapel is at a crossroads. It is similar to the John Wimber situation in the early 1980s. What does Calvary Chapel stand for and how will it be perceived in the future? What will the Calvary Chapel movement accept or reject? As you made a definitive statement in the past on what Calvary is and what it is not, many are pleading that you would do so again.

 

Pastor Chuck, I pray that God gives you insight and wisdom to take a bold biblical stand at this time. This is not a time to condemn others should they choose to go in various ways. This is a time to raise a standard by making a clear statement what you, the leader of the Calvary Chapel movement, believes God wants for the Calvary Chapel movement to represent.

 

If there are those who do not agree, then they should be free to be whatever they believe God is calling them to be. There are many pastors who are waiting for you, our shepherd, to speak and give clear direction. This is a time to proclaim God’s Word with boldness. Jesus is coming soon!

 

Sincerely in Jesus,

 

Roger Oakland

 

Cc. Paul Smith C.C.O.F.