Roger Oakland, author, lecturer, missionary is saying farewell to a 29-year relationship with Calvary Chapel. It began for Roger in 1977 where he taught Biology from an evolutionary perspective at a Canadian university to becoming a born-again, Bible-believing Christian. His life had been turned right side up by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Roger zealously became a servant of the Lord. In contrast to his years teaching evolution, in 1991, he spoke on national Russian television to a potential audience of over 200 million people and shared the Gospel. In Roger’s biography, Let There Be Light, he explains:
That great nation was still reeling from the news: it was the morning after Mikhail Gorbachev had announced the final countdown to the collapse of the Soviet Union. “The Bear” that had terrified the world for so long, was now about to die, unceremoniously, with barely a whimper.
Three years after Roger became a Christian, he met Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel, in June of 1981. In the spring of 1988, Roger met Chuck Smith again and describes the event, one that changed the course of his life:
[W]hile in Southern California in 1988, I stopped by the church to see if Pastor Chuck was available to see me. As I walked through the door of the Calvary Chapel church office, Chuck was coming out of his private office.
“Roger! How are you? Why don’t you come in and bring me up to date on what you’ve been doing?” I was delighted with the opportunity to share with him my recent discovery regarding the connection between evolution and the New Age philosophy.
“I’ve just come from the University of San Diego bookstore,” I began. Looking down at my bulging briefcase, I said, “You can’t believe where evolutionary thinking is headed.”
I reached into my briefcase and pulled out a copy of a book called Kundalini for the New Age. It had the following subtitle: A world-renowned yogi reveals the remarkable source of psychic energy that lies within us all. Handing it to him and reading from the back cover, I remarked, “See, the author of this book claims that evolution is slowly drawing the human race to a golden future of harmony, peace and happiness and the ‘higher consciousness’ will be the natural endowment of every man and woman in the future.”
I went on to share with him more about my research on the connection between evolution and the New Age idea–that man was on the evolutionary pathway to higher consciousness. Pastor Chuck was clearly shocked by what I had to say. “We need someone like you to come and deal with these issues here,” he commented. “Would you consider coming and joining us here at Calvary Chapel?”
Roger moved his family to Southern California from Saskatchewan, Canada and began speaking to Calvary Chapel churches. It was through Calvary Chapel that Roger eventually received his ordination for pastor, although he never used the title and always considered himself a Bible teacher and author.
As the years passed, Roger continued to see the impact that New Age thinking was having in our society; he became increasingly concerned as he saw this influence moving into the evangelical church at large. He felt relatively confident that Calvary Chapel would not go in that direction because of their verse by verse teachings of the Bible, something always encouraged by founder Chuck Smith.
In 2006, the emerging church had been on the scene for nearly a decade but had only recently moved into the forefront of influence in the evangelical and Protestant church. A 2005 public broadcasting special on the emerging church helped bring the movement to the forefront of the general public.1 That same year, Roger wrote a heart-felt letter to Chuck Smith (see in list below), warning of the danger he saw coming into the Calvary Chapel movement. By this time, Purpose Driven Life had sold millions of copies, and Rick Warren’s promotion of emerging leaders was no secret to discerning believers. As Roger studied and researched the emerging church, he saw that it was bringing in the same spirituality he had told Chuck Smith about in 1988, nearly twenty years earlier.
By 2006, Roger teamed up with Lighthouse Trails and began writing Faith Undone. Little did he or Lighthouse Trails know at the time that this book would become like water frozen in the cracks of rocks, causing the rocks to break and shatter. It would be his long standing relationship with Calvary Chapel that would shatter in this case.
The initial reaction by Chuck Smith over Faith Undone, released in 2007, was very favorable. But that was not the consensus by many in the movement. Roger had named names, including Rick Warren as well as Chuck Smith’s nephew Chuck Fromm (editor of Worship Leadermagazine). Soon, Roger began feeling the heat for speaking up. A number of events took place, many of which Lighthouse Trails reported on as they occurred.
In the summer of 2009, Roger had a serious accident at his farm in Saskatchewan. He had been very ill the previous three years with chronic idiopathic uticaria, a disease which Roger later learned was caused by toxics in airlines to kill bugs (Roger had flown extensively in his ministry). As a result of doctors prescribing steroids to Roger to deal with the symptoms of this disease, his body broke down. He fell and suffered a brain injury, and it has only been in the last few months that he has begun to return to normal health. When the year long ordeal of illness ended, it became painfully aware to Roger that many of his co-workers, associates, and even friends had abandoned him and his ministry. He had spoken the truth too many times, and they left when he was sick and even close to death.
Today, in many respects, Roger is starting over. As he recuperates from last year’s fall, he is realizing just how true that is. When it is all said and done, many of those who once stood with him, stand no more. At Lighthouse Trails, we consider Roger Oakland a defender of the faith, not afraid to speak the truth, even when it means taking personal and ministerial hits for it. One of the things in Roger’s ministry that took the biggest hit was his Myanmar orphanages. Churches that had once supported the mission pulled their support, in many cases clearly because of Roger’s stand for truth. You can read about the Myanmar orphanages (founded by Understand the Times) here.
The following is a chronological list of events leading to the present day. While we realize there may be questions, we believe if you read these reports the answers to most of those questions will become obvious. On November 20th, Understand the Times released a ministry update that we think you may find helpful as well in comprehending the serious nature of all that has taken place in Roger’s life and his ministry.
Please pray for Roger, his family, and his ministry during this time as he begins to put together his plans for the future. One of the things he will be working on is the new expanded edition of his biography, Let There Be Light (Lighthouse Trails, 2011). He will also be making trips to Myanmar. He plans to focus on and further develop the work of the Gospel and missions.
Chronological List of Events:
June 12th, 2005: Letter written by Roger Oakland to Chuck Smith
June 2006: Calvary Chapel Issues Notice to pull all Purpose Driven materials from their Calvary Chapel Distribution. At the same time, a statement is made stating that Chuck Smith’s book, When Storms Come, has been recalled because of an editor of the book adding in emerging/contemplative statements.
August 2007: Lighthouse Trails Releases Faith Undone: the emerging church – a new reformation or an end-time deception by Roger Oakland
November 13, 2007: “Ichabod” by Roger Oakland
November 19, 2007: Roger Oakland Removed from Calvary Chapel Radio!
December 6, 2007: Letter from Roger Oakland to Chuck Smith
Septembe 5, 2008: New Age Similarities, Popularity Continues, and Calvary Chapel Gives Official Statement (On Calvary Chapel’s Rejection of The Shack)
June 1st, 2009: A Letter from Ray Yungen: Is Lighthouse Trails “Haters?”
July 23, 2009: ROGER OAKLAND INJURED IN FALL
September 2009: WOE – Rick Warren Speaks at Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade – Introduced as Good Friend by Chuck Smith
July 26, 2010: Faith Undone – Back from 7th Printing!
July 29, 2010: Roger Oakland Announces Plans to Return to Ministry After Year Long Absence and Illness
September 24, 2010: ROGER OAKLAND SPECIAL REPORT: God’s Word Shines Light Upon End Time Apostasy
October 1, 2010: Is Your Denomination A Sinking Titanic?