In 2006, Calvary Chapel made a public stand against contemplative spirituality and the emerging church; they also stated: “The teaching and positions of Rick Warren have come into conflict with us at Calvary Chapel. Pastor Chuck has directed us to discontinue this product effective immediately. Chuck Smith read Deceived on Purpose, A Time of Departing, and Faith Undone and found them right on. In a number of radio programs, Smith favorably acknowledged the work of Lighthouse Trails, and in private e-mails to editors at Lighthouse Trails, he made his support of our work and warnings to the body of Christ evident. But over the past few years, several confusing things have taken place that leave many wondering just what direction the Calvary Chapel movement is really heading. An upcoming conference called Twelve: 2011 Global Online Gathering held by Saddleback Church and Rick Warren is another example of why many people are becoming increasingly confused about Calvary Chapel.
Rick Warren has become a major figure in helping to bring about what he calls a “new reformation,” one which he says will include other religions, not just Christianity. Throughout his efforts this past decade to develop his global P.E.A.C.E. Plan, Warren has consistently turned to the writings of contemplative advocates for training and teaching his followers. Lighthouse Trails has documented countless examples of this (see our research site). Even today books like Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s Handbook on Spiritual Disciplines (which promotes several New Age mystics) sits on the Saddleback Resource Center website. It has for a number of years now. Warren also helped to grow the emerging church movement in a number of ways (such as writing the foreword for Dan Kimball’s book, The Emerging Church), and most recently he launched the Daniel Plan at his church where he is using eastern-meditation teachers (ones promoted by Oprah) to teach mental and physical health to participants (including meditation). This is just less than a handful of ways that Rick Warren is working to change the face of Christianity.
These activities hardly seem conducive to biblical Christianity standards for pastors, enough so that some Christian pastors have distanced themselves from Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven movement. Many pastors, however, are drawn to Rick Warren, of which there are some Calvary Chapel pastors (contrary to Chuck Smith’s directive). Case in point, one of the speakers at the Twelve: 2011 Global conference is pastor Greg Anderson, an Assistant Pastor at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale (senior pastor Bob Coy). CC Ft. Lauderdale is one of the fastest growing churches in the U.S. according to their website. Lighthouse Trails has mentioned CC Ft. Lauderdale in a few articles, particularly relating to their online church bookstore that had carried several contemplative and/or authors such as Rob Bell in the past. After a personnel at the bookstore told us over the phone that they had removed these types of books, a Lighthouse Trails reader visited the walk-in store months later and purchased a Rob Bell book sitting on the shelves and sent us the receipt. Today, the CC Ft. Lauderdale bookstore sells books by emerging mystic proponent Tony Campolo, futurist/globalist John Maxwell, and contemplative advocate Max Lucado.
It is interesting to note that the CC Ft. Lauderdale bookstore is currently carrying Roger Oakland’s books Another Jesus and Faith Undone and his emerging church DVD series. Faith Undone was at one time being carried by the Calvary Chapel Distribution but was recently dropped for unexplained reasons. We think if the Calvary Chapel Ft Lauderdale pastors, including Greg Anderson, would read Faith Undone, they would see how the spirituality and goals of Rick Warren and Tony Campolo are the very thing that Roger Oakland warns against in his books and DVDs. By Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale partnering with Rick Warren on one hand and promoting Roger Oakland’s books on the other it certainly feeds the fires of confusion to the body of Christ further regarding Calvary Chapel.
Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale has also brought in contemplative/emerging type musicians for church-sponsored concerts. One was musician David Crowder in a church sponsored concert. Crowder is author of Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi, where he encourages the practice of lectio divina and references and quotes contemplative/emerging figure Walter Brueggemann a number times. The book is of a “road to Rome” caliber. In addition to the Crowder concert at CC Ft. Lauderdale, we received this e-mail from a Lighthouse Trails reader last February:
You may be aware of this but I am writing to give you a heads up if you are not. Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale is promoting a concert on March 16th for a band named Gungor, see link below; on Calvary’s web page they have a link to Gungor’s web site and on the bands blog they promote Spiritual Formation (meditation) in 3 consecutive blogs and give detailed instructions on how to practice this “ancient discipline”. http://www.calvaryftl.org/event/2011-03-16-gungor-in-concert/
Below is Gungor’s site where the blog can be seen.
I have not contacted Calvary Chapel but not sure it would matter anyway because surely Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale is aware of the bands beliefs. I just followed the link they provided and checked out the band. I am not sure if it is something you would want to report on but thought you should know.
The upcoming Twelve conference at Saddleback isn’t the first time a Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale pastor has teamed up with Rick Warren. In 2007, we issued an article when Bob Coy was to share the platform with Rick Warren and John Ortberg at a conference. After our article, plans changed, and Coy addressed the audience from video cast rather than live on stage. Our report Plans Changed for Bob Coy and the Exponential Conference relayed this.
While Calvary Chapel says that each of their churches is run independently and not under the control or jurisdiction of the Calvary Chapel founding church, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa with founding pastor Chuck Smith, there are “distinctives” that have been issued that all Calvary Chapel pastors are expected to follow (even Chuck Smith’s own son was asked to step down from being a Calvary Chapel pastor because of his emergent leanings). But there has not been consistency in following the distinctive that Calvary Chapel would not endorse in any way the contemplative prayer movement or the emerging church. One such example of this inconsistency actually took place at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, when they held an event for several thousand young people and had an emerging author as the featured speaker. Mike Erre, author of Death by Church, spoke that night. A Calvary Chapel minister introduced Erre and said to the crowd of youngsters, “The haters [referring to Lighthouse Trails] tried to stop us but they didn’t.” 1 That was based on an article we had written about Erre’s book and his scheduled appearance at the youth event.
And then there was the time that a parent of a CC Costa Mesa high school student contacted us, concerned because one of the teachers was using a book by a Protestant-turned-Catholic professor in class. This particular author promotes various contemplative practices.2
One of the most “memorable” incidents was at Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade 2009, when Rick Warren sat on the podium, was introduced by Chuck Smith as his “friend,” and gave the opening prayer.3 And Calvary Chapel pastor Skip Heitzig’s Riptide film must be included in this list of inconsistencies: Rick Warren and contemplative advocate Mark Driscoll were featured.
Other troubling issues have surfaced: Understand the Times reported on Calvary Chapel’s promotion of the Roman Catholic Knights of Malta Jerry Boykin when he participated in their Preach the Word Prophecy Conference. As most realize, the Roman Catholic Church has a plan to “bring back the lost brethren” to the “Mother of all churches.” In this day and age where so much of the evangelical/Protestant church is being pulled toward “Rome” (which we believe will ultimately lead to a one-world religion), is it not showing a lack of wisdom and discernment to engage publicly with one of its leading figures? And in a Preach the Word conference, what “Word” was Jerry Boykin preaching about? Lighthouse Trails and Understand the Times will soon be releasing a special report on the Catholic Jesuit Order and its connections to the evangelical church.
Some are also concerned about the issue with Chuck Smith’s brother Paul Smith, who was fired from CCOF in 2009. In fact, we received an e-mail this week from a woman sharing her concerns. Smith had been involved with efforts to keep emerging spirituality from coming into Calvary Chapel. His termination took place less than a month before the youth event with Mike Erre that we spoke of above. Paul Smith called Lighthouse Trails within a couple hours of being fired and told us he had hoped to stop the event. Smith told us his niece’s husband, Brian Brodersen, had seconded the motion to fire him and that his brother, Chuck Smith, who was in the meeting, did not object. Why do we bring this up now? We have been receiving e-mails from some of our readers lately asking if we were aware that Chuck Smith wrote the foreword to Paul Smith’s new book, The New Evangelicalism. Yes, we were aware of it. What we found even more distressing about the book though was that the book did not address the fact that many Calvary Chapels, including Costa Mesa, have in one form or another promoted the emerging/”road to Rome”/contemplative movement. The New Evangelicalism succinctly lays out the damaging influence Peter Drucker has had on evangelicalism, in particularly Rick Warren. Smith calls the coming together of Drucker and Warren a “slippery slope” and a “marriage made in postmodern heaven” (p. 124). Smith says this Drucker/Warren slippery slope includes “an emerging one-world church, and a new world order” (p. 131). So Paul Smith’s book clearly indicts Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven movement. But herein lies more confusion.
Lighthouse Trails discussed Paul Smith’s new book with Roger Oakland. Roger told us that he had read the original manuscript before it was edited and published by The Word for Today* and was very surprised to see how many important facts had been edited out of the original manuscript. Paul Smith told Roger Oakland that the edits had been done by The Word for Today. One of the facts that was left out was Paul Smith’s reference to Rick Warren speaking at the Greg Laurie Harvest Crusade and being introduced by Chuck Smith. Sadly, there is no mention in The New Evangelicalism about the co-mingling of Calvary Chapel with Rick Warren. In fact, references to Calvary Chapel in Smith’s book are glowing:
“Calvary Chapel can best be understood as a marvelous work of God” (p. 53).
“Calvary Chapel has been a God-blessed phenomenon . . . a marvelous work of God that defies human explanation” (p. 131).
We’re not here to say that God has not ever done “marvelous” things through Calvary Chapel over the years. Many people have found the Lord through the movement, and they have set a good example in studying the Word verse by verse. But what we are saying is that it is sending out confusion to many people when a book is published by Calvary Chapel that rightly identifies the apostasy of the Purpose Driven movement but does not acknowledge and report that Calvary Chapel is engaging with that very movement. The book could be considered as a smoke screen, which could take any focus off of the slippery slope that Calvary Chapel itself appears to be on right now. Not only does the book not acknowledge what is happening within the Calvary Chapel movement, but virtually no one from inside the movement is publicly acknowledging this either. Just the Boykin connection to the Calvary Chapel leadership alone is absolutely shocking!
So is it really any wonder that people are confused about what is going on at Calvary Chapel? While Lighthouse Trails and Understand the Times have been accused of trying to destroy Calvary Chapel, that simply isn’t true. But we also don’t believe it is right to ignore what is taking place and pretend a shift hasn’t occurred.
In the Calvary Chapel Distinctive titled “Position Letter Number Two,” it states: “The great confusion that exists in the divergent positions of the Emergent church results from their challenging the final authority of the Scriptures. When you no longer have a final authority, then every one’s ideas become as valid as the next person’s and it cannot help but end in total confusion and contradictions.” We would challenge Calvary Chapel pastors to consider the things we have said in this article and to see that Calvary Chapel’s increasingly laxed view on Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven movement is truly bringing “total confusion and contradictions.”
Earlier in this article, we mentioned Walter Brueggemann because he was frequently quoted and referenced in David Crowder’s book, Praise Habit. To get a glimpse of where this “new” Christianity is heading, consider this: Brueggemann endorsed the back cover of a book by Alan Jones titled Reimagining Christianity. In that book, Jones talks about a mystical spirituality in which not only all the world’s religions will be united but all humanity will be united whether religious or not. Jones says the doctrine of the Cross and Substitutionary Atonement is a vile doctrine. This is why Lighthouse Trails is so concerned. This is why we write about Calvary Chapel and other Christian groups, not to harm them but to alert people to the danger and deception that has come on board. On the back cover of Jones’ book, also sits an endorsement by Brian McLaren who claims that this [Jones’] view “stimulates” and “encourages” him “deeply” and that Christianity is moving away from “dogma” (doctrine) and toward “authentic spirituality” (mysticism). It is for the sake of the Gospel that we are compelled to speak up; and we pray that pastors of Calvary Chapel and of other denominations will begin to speak up for truth, no matter the cost and return to the purity of the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, leaving all the rudiments of the world behind.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8
*Note: The New Evangelicalism was published by The Word for Today; however in the copyright page of the book and on the cover it lists Calvary Publishing as the publisher. LT spoke by phone with The Word for Today prior to posting our article. We were told that this was a “typo” and that the actual publisher of Paul Smith’s book is The Word for Today. Calvary Publishing, according to the person we spoke with, is a now defunct publishing arm of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. The Word for Today is also an arm of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.
Attempt to Discredit Contenders of the Faithby Kjos Ministries